There is a large and growing library of quality indicators available from a variety of organisations, but despite this, many national organisations find they are too constrained, both in the information they can use and how they use it, to assess quality of care within England.

QualityWatch involves the tracking of an extensive range of quality indicators. As independent organisations, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation have the freedom to work beyond some of the constraints on organisations with a national responsibility.

Our approach maps a range of existing indicators to a broad framework, as the first step in a process of concentrating on those that might add most value. The information may be structured in different ways but will always be examining one of the following categories:

  • Change over time at national level;
  • Change at national level with respect to other benchmarks (for example other countries);
  • Change over time at provider/area level within England;
  • Change in mean across areas/providers;
  • Change in achievement of threshold (for example fewer extremes);
  • Change in relationship to other variables (for example versus deprivation, unemployment or other social factors).

Of the large numbers of existing indicators relating to quality, we identified a subset that would form a good platform for ongoing monitoring.

Internal discussions between analysts and comments from external experts were used to refine the indicator lists. We eventually identified a list of approximately 500 indicators, from which around 150 indicators were prioritised to form the basis for the first wave of our programme.

Our indicators provide a good platform for ongoing monitoring

Our choice of these final 150 or so was pragmatic and preferred indicators where data was currently available and able to show some form of trend over time. We also sought indicators from across our framework covering all domains of quality and sectors of care. We have since added to this list and currently monitor about 300 indicators. 

How indicators are updated

While we understand the importance of timely information and endeavour to keep the care quality indicators as up-to-date as possible, due to the extensive number that we track and the frequency at which many of the data are released nationally, it is not always possible for us to present the most recent data for all indicators. Most months a subset of indicators are updated based on a flexible schedule that takes into account several factors including the frequency of the data releases, grouping related indicators together based on data source or topics, indicators that are accessed the most frequently and topical events. Any time stamps applied only indicate when the data was last updated in the QualityWatch programme.

Where to find more information

The majority of the data that we use for our care quality indicators are publicly available and links are provided underneath each individual chart to allow access to the data from the original source. This link may also provide access to additional material published by the source. Where the link itself doesn’t give direct access to the most up-to-date data or related material (as it only links to the analysed data on the QualityWatch website) these links can be used as a starting point to navigate through the original source website to locate this information.

Each indicator page also gives related links within the QualityWatch website itself. These can be found on the left hand side of the indicator page and include links to related indicators (based on the quality domains, sectors and topics), blogs, infographics and other QualityWatch reports.

We recognise that in some sectors (such as community services) there is very sparse national information available. We try to provide some commentary around this through our news & opinion section.

Feedback

We welcome comments on which indicators are the most or least valuable – and which indicators may usefully be added or perhaps excluded from our set. You can either leave comments on an individual indicator page (as you would on a blog), or contact us via email.

To find out more about how you can comment on our analysis, please visit the ‘Have your say’ section of the website.