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Celebrating Clinical Audit during #CAAW2022

Each year we join in with this national event to promote the value of clinical audit and encourage people to get involved. Audits come in all shapes and sizes, but generally speaking they are checks to make sure we are doing what we should be doing. We also do service evaluations which ask wider questions about effectiveness, what patients and staff are experiencing and the outcomes of the treatments we provide.

Typically, an audit will involve a service looking at a sample of patient notes to check that the standards set have been achieved i.e., the right things done, at the right time and recorded in the right way. Our service evaluations often include information from the measures patients complete before and after treatment to show the effect it has had. They can also include surveys, short interviews, and focus groups with staff and patients.

Last year we did over 120 local and trust wide audits and service evaluations as well as 13 national ones. We are there to support everyone conducting clinical audits and service evaluations, making sure quality is high whilst encouraging the right topics to be addressed. When they identify an inconsistency or concern, our services make improvements and re-audit to check they have worked. When improvement ideas work, we share this learning as widely as possible.

Audit has been around for a long time – Florence Nightingale was an enthusiastic auditor though some say there is evidence of clinical audit going backs as far as 1750BC! It might not always sound exciting, but we think it is essential for good healthcare now and in the future. Without it you don’t really always know what is happening or what changes could lead to improvement.

Many of our audits look at things like patient records, referrals, and reports. Getting this right ensures clear communication and plans, safer working, and better experiences for patients.

Some of my favourite audits are the simple ones that lead to ongoing improvement; checking inpatients have correct wristbands, that infection control has been carried out, the right forms have been used and correct information has been recorded. One of the keys to successful improvement is involving staff and patients as much as possible in the process. In one recent example, our GP services used a series of audits to improve the coding and screening of people at risk of liver disease by over 50%. Most of this improvement was associated with increased GP awareness led by the initial audit results as well as improvement in their record keeping process.

During Audit Awareness week we will be holding daily drop in events to show staff what we do and encourage them to get involved. We’ll also be writing to our audit heroes across the trust to thank them for all their hard work. We do everything we can to support them including a series of training workshops as well as help with tools and reports.

Please get in touch if you are interested in learning more about clinical audit.

About the author

I am the Head of Improvement for the Academy and I look after our clinical audit programme as well as our Service Evaluation and Quality Improvement work.

I joined the Academy in April 2017, after spending 24 years working as an adult Speech and Language Therapist. In 2016 with the support of the Academy team, I completed my PhD, and retain an interest in research relating to dementia, carers, and communication difficulties.

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