Improving the reporting of clinical audits in the NHS

Ros Collins, Ruth Lewis, Adrian Flynn, Michael Emmans Dean, Lindsey Myers, Paul Wilson, Alison Eastwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination was commissioned to conduct a systmatic review of clinical audits undertaken to assess the implementation and effectiveness of the National Health Service (NHS) two-week waiting time policy for cancer referrals in England and Wales. This paper highlights the logistical difficulties experienced by the review team in trying to obtain information from the NHS, and discusses what needs to be done in order to improve the reporting and usefulness of clinical audit reports. Design/methodology/approach - A total of 650 key individuals within NHS Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities were contacted for copies of relevant audits. Other key individuals and organisations across the NHS were also contacted, web sites of key organisations searched, requests for audits on relevant e-mail discussion lists posted and electronic databases and conference proceedings searched. Findings - Finds that many trusts do not appear to hold a centralised record of what clinical audits have been performed within the trust. In many instances several follow-up contacts were necessary. The majority of included audits were poorly reported, with fewer than half providing sufficient detail on methodological aspects for the audit to be reproducible. Practical implications - There should be a system of recording ongoing and completed audits conducted within the NHS, to ensure that audit reports are produced and accessible. The NHS needs to make sure that not only are appropriate audit methods used but that audit reports are written up in sufficient detail to allow the reader to ascertain how the audit was conducted and to assess the validity of the results. Documentary evidence of action plans would make it easier for those not directly involved in the audit to assess if, and in what ways, the audit findings are being acted upon to improve existing practices and procedures. Originality/value - This paper discusses what needs to be done in order to improve the reporting and usefulness of clinical audit reports. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-195
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Audit reports
  • Clinical audit
  • National Health Service
  • Quality improvement
  • United Kingdom


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