National Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit

This audit aims to improve the quality of care for people living with inflammatory arthritis, collecting information on all new patients over the age of 16 in specialist rheumatology departments with suspected inflammatory arthritis in England and Wales.

Key dates:

  • Publish first annual reports (clinician and patient) – October 2019

Commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership as part of the National Clinical Audit Programme, the National Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit is being carried out by us with support from King's College London and Netsolving.

Information will be gathered over the first 12 months of specialist care for all patients with rheumatoid pattern inflammatory arthritis (including psoriatic arthritis of the rheumatoid type) and from the first appointment for all patients with suspected inflammatory arthritis and/or axial spondyloarthropathy.

The aim is to improve the quality of care for people living with inflammatory arthritis by assessing the performance of rheumatology units against NICE Quality Standards. There is compelling evidence that early intensive treatment greatly improves the outcome of these disabling diseases, which predominantly affect people of working age.

Benefits of taking part

The audit will generate unit-level data, benchmarked to regional and national comparators against NICE Quality Standard 33 and other key metrics.

It will quantify the impact of the last audit in more detail, measuring how reconfiguration and staffing changes have changed practice and patient care.

Supporting units

  • We have: streamlined the amount of data the audit collects and introduced a new, more user-friendly IT system

  • Appointed five regional champions, based on the NHS Regions and Wales, to work with units to address emerging issues and facilitate communication with the society

  • Written to Trust/Board CEOs and clinical leads to raise audit awareness, including requirement to participate under terms of the standard NHS contract, and ensured appropriate resources put into place

  • Continually updated FAQs within the audit tool and made quarterly newsletters available to all registered users

Data collection

All new patients over the age of 16 years presenting for the first time with suspected inflammatory arthritis should be recruited.

Data collection for patients with a diagnosis of rheumatoid or rheumatoid pattern arthritis will be at three time points across 12 months, assessing waiting times; time to treatment; clinical response to treatment; provision of education and patient reported outcomes.

For patients with axial spondyloarthritis, data collected will be referral time and waiting time to first appointment.



Everything you need to know about the audit project, what data to collect and how, in a handy 30 minute webinar. Audit lead analyst Dr James Galloway talks you through the essentials and answers your questions.

Look out for live webinars to learn more about QI and making the most of your audit data, dates will be published here.

View our most recent webinar

Regional Champions

Our five Regional Champions are happy to help advise you on the audit, They are Michael Plant (North), Caitlyn Dowson (Midlands), Tazeen Ahmed (London), Emma Williams (South and Zoe McLaren (Wales). If you would like to contact them, please email

Reports and case studies

Access reports from the first and second year national clinical audits, plus our collection of case studies

Second clinical annual report
Analyses data from 5,002 patients, who were recruited between 1 February and 30 October 2015.
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Second patient annual report
Assess the early management of patients referred to rheumatology providers with suspected inflammatory arthritis.
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Second annual report presentation of key findings
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First clinical annual report
Analyses data on 6,354 patients, who were recruited to the audit between 1 February 2014 and 31 January 2015.
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First patient annual report
In-depth look at patients over 16 years of age in England and Wales with suspected rheumatoid or other types of early inflammatory arthritis within the crucial first three months of referral to a specialist.
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First annual report presentation of key findings
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Case studies: National Clinical Audit for Rheumatoid and Early Inflammatory Arthritis
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