Achievement of NICE quality standards for patients with new presentation of inflammatory arthritis: observations from the National Clinical Audit for Rheumatoid and Early Inflammatory Arthritis

Joanna M. Ledingham, Neil Snowden, Ali Rivett, James Galloway, Zoe Ide, Jill Firth, Elizabeth MacPhie, Ngianga Kandala, Elaine M. Dennison, Ian Rowe

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Abstract

Objectives - A national audit was performed assessing the early management of suspected inflammatory arthritis by English and Welsh rheumatology units. The aim of this audit was to measure the performance of rheumatology services against National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standards (QSs) for the management of early inflammatory arthritis benchmarked to regional and national comparators for the first time in the UK.

Methods - All individuals >16 years of age presenting to rheumatology services in England and Wales with suspected new-onset inflammatory arthritis were included in the audit. Information was collected against six NICE QSs that pertain to early inflammatory arthritis management.

Results - We present national data for the 6354 patients recruited from 1 February 2014 to 31 January 2015; 97% of trusts and health boards in England and Wales participated in this audit. Only 17% of patients were referred by their general practitioner within 3 days of first presentation. Specialist rheumatology assessment occurred within 3 weeks of referral in 38% of patients. The target of DMARD initiation within 6 weeks of referral was achieved in 53% of RA patients; 36% were treated with combination DMARDs and 82% with steroids within the first 3 months of specialist care. Fifty-nine per cent of patients received structured education on their arthritis within 1 month of diagnosis. In total, 91% of patients had a treatment target set; the agreed target was achieved within 3 months of specialist review in only 27% of patients. Access to urgent advice via a telephone helpline was reported to be available in 96% of trusts.

Conclusion - The audit has highlighted gaps between NICE standards and delivery of care, as well as substantial geographic variability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223–230
JournalRheumatology
Volume56
Issue number2
Early online date1 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

Keywords

  • RCUK
  • MRC

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