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The National Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit (NEIAA)

The National Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit (NEIAA) 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 in England and Wales.

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Commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership as part of the National Clinical Audit Programme, the NEIAA is carried by the British Society for Rheumatology with support from King’s College London and Netsolving. 

NRAS has been involved in working with the BSR on this and the previous audit, and one of our valued volunteers is Chair of the Patient Working Group on the audit working closely with the audit team at the BSR. We have always been extremely supportive of these audits as they have brought about quality improvement in services, such as new early inflammatory arthritis clinics being established and in improving referral times from GP to specialist care, time to being seen in rheumatology and getting starting on DMARDs, in line with the NICE Quality Standards in RA. The current audit also collects data as to whether rheumatology units are conducting annual reviews at 12 months following diagnosis and what is being measured at annual review, in line with the NICE RA Guideline NG100 and Quality Standard in RA QS33 which recommends: 

Offer all adults with RA, including those who have achieved the treatment target, an annual review to: 

  • assess disease activity and damage, and measure functional ability (using, for example, the Health Assessment Questionnaire [HAQ])  
  • check for the development of comorbidities, such as hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, osteoporosis and depression  
  • assess symptoms that suggest complications, such as vasculitis and disease of the cervical spine, lung or eyes  
  • organise appropriate cross referral within the multidisciplinary team • assess the need for referral for surgery (see section 1.10)  
  • assess the effect the disease is having on a person’s life. Follow recommendation 1.2.1 if the target is not maintained. [2009, amended 2020] 

In the event that you have not had an annual review in line with the above in the last 12 months, which might be possible this year due to COVID interrupting normal service delivery, you should ensure that you ask about annual review at your next clinic appointment. These reviews are particularly important in order to pick up on development of any comorbidities (conditions other than your RA, including anxiety and depression).