Asthma UK response to news that NHS England will conduct a National Clinical Audit into asthma

Today the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) has announced it is to commission a National Clinical Audit into asthma on behalf of NHS England as part of the National Clinical Audit programme. Below is our response to the announcement which has just been published online:

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says: "We welcome today's announcement by HQIP that it will commission a National Clinical Audit on behalf of NHS England, a key recommendation in the National Review of Asthma Deaths which found that two thirds of deaths are preventable with good basic care. 1 in 11 people have asthma in the UK yet our research shows that 8 out of 10 people with asthma do not receive care that meets basic clinical standards.

"Our success in the future relies on the findings from this audit being used to improve asthma care for millions of people, to stop asthma attacks and end needless asthma deaths. As the majority of asthma care takes place at the primary level, the audit must be mandatory for all GP practices and primary healthcare providers so that we can focus resources exactly where they are needed. With someone in the UK having an asthma attack every 10 seconds, today's announcement is an important step towards improving care for millions of people with asthma."

What is a national clinical audit?

National clinical audits collect information about healthcare issues from around the country to improve care and outcomes for patients. The audits are developed in areas of healthcare considered to be the most important, and where it's felt that national results are needed to improve healthcare standards. The information collected in the audits helps patients see how well their local healthcare provider is performing, and also allows NHS organisations to compare outcomes of care, identify and share best practice, and understand where improvements need to be made.

Why is it so important that we have a national clinical audit for asthma?

There are already national clinical audits for many other health conditions including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), diabetes, stroke, cardiac surgery and kidney disease, and they've brought significant benefits for patients affected by these conditions. We've been lobbying for a national clinical audit for asthma for several years, and one of the key recommendations of theNational Review of Asthma Deathswas establishing a national audit for asthma to improve asthma care. Whilst ourresearch has already identified some areas of asthma care where improvement was needed, a national clinical audit would give us more in-depth information on a much wider scale that's crucial for making real improvements. A national clinical audit for asthma would be a unique opportunity for care to be assessed across the UK. Crucially, the audit would provide a way of improving patient care by specifically taking into account people with asthma's experiences of care. It would also help people with asthma make more informed choices about their care by ensuring that information about the quality of care of different practices is available.