A free tool created by the national diabetes audit enables GP practices to save time by extracting data from primary care clinical systems automatically

The Information Centre for health and social care's national diabetes audit has developed a free tool to help GP practices extract their data automatically.

This tool, known as Apollo, has made it possible to automatically extract the data from all primary care clinical systems and is making it easier for organisations to participate in the audit.

The extract tool works by running reports at night from 2am to 7am and from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, placing far less of a burden on staff and resources than the current manual process. A typical report will be generated in 20 minutes.

For the first time, staff can also view the practice data before it is submitted, allowing for quicker analysis and feedback on data quality.

An estimated 2.35 million people in England have diabetes. By 2010 this is predicted to grow to more than 2.5 million, partly due to increasing obesity. Almost 10 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on treating diabetes and its complications.

Quality information is vital to the success of organisations implementing the diabetes national service framework and key to improving services for people with diabetes.

With more than 700,000 patient records, the national diabetes audit is the largest clinical audit in the world. It provides an infrastructure for the collation, analysis, benchmarking and feedback of local clinical data to support an effective clinical audit across the NHS.

The aim of this audit is to improve the quality of patient care by enabling NHS organisations to:

  • compare the processes and outcomes of care with similar NHS organisations;

  • identify and share good practice;

  • identify gaps or shortfalls in commissioning services;

  • support identification of progress in meeting diabetes national service framework and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines;

  • provide a local health economy view of care and outcomes where primary and secondary care organisations actively participate.

The national diabetes audit is developed and delivered by the National Clinical Audit Support Programme, which is part of the Information Centre in partnership with the Healthcare Commission.

Next steps for the audit

Over the next few weeks, an e-mail reminder will be sent from NHS Connecting for Health inExeterto the primary contact for each primary care trust.

To implement this system, the practice must download the Apollo A3 reporting suite software. Practices that do not currently have access will be able to download the reporting tool and the national diabetes audit extract at www.apollo-medical.ws./reports/ncasp

For more information on the national diabetes audit click here

The closing date for submission of data to the national diabetes audit is30 September 2007.