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National COPD primary care audit (Wales) 2014–15: about the audit

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The National COPD Audit Programme primary care workstream ran an audit in Wales in 2015 (data from the 2014–15 period was collected).

The Welsh national report was published in October 2016, local health board reports were published in November 2016, and a report for England was published in November 2016.

What we did

The primary care audit was designed to include all patients over the age of 35 years, with a diagnosis of COPD, on primary care registers, and it was originally commissioned in 2013 to cover both England and Wales.

Unfortunately, significant challenges and delays have been encountered, with increasing limitations on the permissions and mechanisms under which data can be obtained from English GP practices.

We have worked closely with our commissioners – the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP), the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and the Health Research Authority – to overcome these challenges. However, in July 2015, the decision was made by HQIP to decommission the England element of the primary care audit as comprehensive access to primary care data in England could not be achieved reliably at that time. It is hoped that commissioning of COPD primary care audit extractions in England will be re-established by HQIP at a future time when an efficient and cost-effective extraction process can be identified.

We are pleased to be able to proceed with annual COPD primary care audit extractions in Wales over the next 2 years. As originally planned, audit indicators selected will map to appropriate standards, guidelines and frameworks, eg National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standards for COPD, as related to primary care. Data items will be identified by Read Code. The dataset from the 2015 extraction will be linked to other existing data sources, including the other COPD audit workstream datasets.

Additionally, we are undertaking a piece of work looking at existing publicly available primary care data in England.

We anticipate that both elements of work will be supportive of future quality improvement (QI) activities in primary care in both England and Wales.

National COPD primary care audit (Wales)

Dr Noel Baxter, primary care audit workstream clinical lead, outlines this audit's intentions and goals:

This comprehensive primary care audit for Wales, and the first for a UK nation, reports on the clinical effectiveness of COPD care in the general practice setting. This intelligence from the primary care setting is vital to build on what we know from the recently published national COPD reports about the quality of hospital care and pulmonary rehabilitation services.

This data will begin to help us understand across systems and populations what the care and experience is like for people with this condition, and what areas of improvement we need to focus on.

The first national primary care audit (Wales) took place in late 2015, with data extracted for the period covering 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2015.

61% of practices in Wales, covering a population of 48,029 patients diagnosed with COPD, opted to take part in this first of three cycles of audit.

This first annual audit aims to help practices see where improvements can be made, and provide health boards and partner organisations of the COPD audit with the information needed to support quality improvement activities in practices and clusters. It will also inform how COPD care can be better recorded in practices.

Workstream timeline

  • 11 April 2016: Wales GP practice reports now available to individual practices via the HSCIC online reporting portal (for further information please see the resources section)
  • autumn 2016: cluster and local health board reports published
  • October 2016: national report published
  • November 2016: report for England published.

The above timeline may be subject to change but we will keep you updated regarding any alterations and provide additional timeline details as they are confirmed. 

Who's involved


The RCP is working closely with the National Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to deliver this workstream, along with key stakeholders including the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners.