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Clinical Audit Awareness Week (CAAW) 2023

I’m Colin Barnes - Head of Improvement at the Academy and I look after our Clinical Audit, Service Evaluation, library and knowledge service, Quality Improvement (QI), and workshop programmes.

In October 2022 I was proud to see more than 23 of our audits and evaluations presented at the Academy Annual Conference with others presented at national conferences and published in journals during the year.

Numbers aren’t everything though. The key questions for me are “how do we know we are auditing the right things” and “what are we doing to improve them”?

To answer this, four words come to mind: curiosity, connections, listening and aspiration.

Curiosity is all about questioning what we do and the assumptions we make about our services. It's also about being open minded and challenging the way we have done things before.

To drive this curiosity, it’s increasingly important that we help our services to be connected to things like our business plans, incidents, complaints, risks as well as areas of excellence to make for a joined-up quality system where the things we measure reflect our changing priorities and in turn connect to our QI programme.

As an example of this, earlier in the year we brought 40 staff from our services together along with five patient representatives and senior leaders from our trust to listen to each other’s ideas for audits, evaluations, and quality improvement. We’ve also established a patient panel where audit and evaluation authors can present their projects and findings to our patient and public Side-by-Side network for feedback and to discuss their ideas for improvement together.

One highlight of the year for me has been our audit work with end-of-life care. The national audit on this topic is aimed at the in-patient setting, but most of our end-of-life care is in the community. So, we worked together with team leaders from Portsmouth and Southampton to adapt the national audit to make it relevant and usable for us. The audit results were particularly useful for identifying areas and plans for improvement but what I really liked was the sharing of good practice that started as soon as we sat down to plan the audit.

An aspirational plan for audit and way of working to me is a combination of ambitious ideas and a journey of improvement for the individuals involved as well as services being audited. There is an element of challenge to the way we work e.g, if we only audited things we know for sure we can audit, then there would be little space for innovation.

One thing that helps aspiration is our integrated way of working with multiple workstreams provided under the single Academy banner. Looking back, it’s great to see audit and evaluations growing into QI projects and being influenced by our library and knowledge service, but also great to see many of the people who joined our Researcher Development or QI leader programme coming from an audit and evaluation background.

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As we head into a new year our door is always open to new ideas, partnerships, and challenges and with a great team behind us we know its going to be a good one.


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