Physiotherapy UK 2018: You can’t do a clinical audit of another service

Physiotherapy staff can only carry out a clinical audit of their own service, delegates at a seminar on the key aspects of planning a service evaluation heard.

The point of an audit is to make changes, said the University of Hertfordshire’s Heather Thornton

'Repeatedly, you see people trying to audit other people’s services,’ said Heather Thornton, senior clinical fellow at the University of Hertfordshire.

‘If there is a concern between services about standards being met, then you do a collaborative audit. But you can’t start auditing someone else’s service.’

Another key point made by Dr Thornton was that the main driver for a clinical audit was improving practice by looking at the standard of your practice against given criteria. These can be developed by you or by others.

‘It’s about implementing change,’ she said. ‘There is no point in doing an audit if you are not going to make changes.’

Her advice was to gather staff and service users together, ask them which service standards they had concerns about and then concentrate on auditing just three or four that need improvement.

‘It may be that you only audit one standard. That is absolutely fine. Don’t try and audit everything,’ she said.

And tell those who have helped with the audit about the outcomes, because then they will be more likely to participate again, she advised.

Angela Green, lead clinical research therapist at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said it was valuable to involve service users and carers in a broader service evaluation because they could help to identify which areas to focus on.

Physiotherapist Dr Green said that it was important to choose the right language and ask people how they would like to be addressed, and to involve them in the analysis and share findings with them.

She said that service users could have very active roles in the recruitment and selection of new staff, too. That way, you made sure the values you were looking for in new recruits were aligned with what service users may wish to see.

Among the challenges that physiotherapists face are changes in the way healthcare is delivered, and thinking about population health rather than just the individual, according to Helen Baxter.

Director of management consultancy Tessellates Innovation and until this month head of improvement and transformation at the CSP, she told delegates that physiotherapists were part of large systems.

Evaluating a physiotherapy service was about ‘looking at how are we delivering care services across a system, rather than thinking about it within silos,’ she said.


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