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The National Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit (NEIAA) continues to play a key role in helping to improve care for people with inflammatory arthritis. We speak to Welsh audit champion Dr Ceril Rhys-Dillon about some of the ways that NEIAA can help local teams.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Ceril (pronounced Kerrill) from Ceredigion in Mid Wales. I trained as a junior in England and Belgium and I've now been a consultant rheumatologist in South Wales for over 20 years. My main interests involve developing lupus and rare disease services and ensuring that patients have access to high-quality rheumatology care regardless of where they live. A strong life-work balance and maintaining a sense of humour has always been a priority for me.

What interested you in the NEIAA regional champion role?

The role was attractive initially as a way to delve deeper into the audit to apply the learning to my own unit and subsequently to share this learning with colleagues within Wales.

Why is the NEIAA important to you?

Diagnosing and treating patients with inflammatory arthritis is certainly one of the main roles of a rheumatology service and by getting this right for patients it can help model treatment pathways for treating patients with other rheumatological conditions. The NEIAA serves as a benchmark for best practice and as a driver to improve care for patients.

Having to analyse our own data regularly helps us keep the focus on what improvements work well and what needs to change. Without outcome data this is not possible.

How can the NEIAA help local teams?

It can identify units that are performing well thus enabling positive feedback and just reward for teams that have achieved this. It can also identify teams where additional support is needed. Sometimes very small practical changes can make a big difference to clinical outcomes but without data this isn’t always evident.

Feedback from teams performing well can be invaluable in achieving this aim. It can also help patient groups and rheumatology units highlight problem areas within their local area, thus enabling rheumatology service improvements to be high on the agenda where needed.

What are the priorities in your local area over the next year?

From looking at data on clinical outcomes in Wales it is apparent that units that have support from local audit services are best placed to use the NEIAA data to its maximum potential, so ensuring all teams have access to audit services is a priority.

Annual review has been highlighted as important by patient groups and we need to tie this in with the Patient Initiated Follow Up system (PIFU) so that patient choice is maximised. This can only happen with an appropriate workforce, including the development of nurse consultant roles in Wales.

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