Join NASS in catalysing change and driving down axial SpA diagnosis time by helping us measure the impacts.

Time to Diagnosis Audit

In October 2022 NASS launched a pilot of a simple patient survey and audit tool to measure and monitor the time to diagnosis for Axial Spondyloarthritis (axial SpA). This was as part of our Aspiring to Excellence programme and was piloted by the 19 participating rheumatology departments. When we launched the Act on Axial SpA campaign in June 2021, the average UK time to diagnosis was 8.5 years. The patient survey is part of our aim to reduce the 8.5 year delay to a Gold Standard of just one year. Participating Aspiring to Excellence teams are all focussed on solutions to drive down this diagnostic delay.

The NASS survey and associated audit complements the clinically led National Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit (NEIAA) run by the British Society of Rheumatology (BSR). The NEIAA aims to improve the quality of care for people living with inflammatory arthritis, collecting information on all new patients over the age of 16 in specialist rheumatology departments in England and Wales. You can read more about NEIAA here:

The NASS survey is simply completed by patients at the time of diagnosis, by scanning a QR code from a patient leaflet in the rheumatology department, as the diagram below shows.

In the first two quarters (Q4 2022 and Q1 2023) of the pilot 258 patients diagnosis journeys were submitted from across 21 Trusts / rheumatology teams with a further 14 expressing interest in contributing.

Professor Hasan Tahir, Consultant Physician and Rheumatologist from the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, one of the Aspiring to Excellence teams and a pilot site for the survey, the first to hit the fantastic milestone of 100 patients, said:

“The survey has become part of our routine practice with great engagement by patients which will help us identify our issues with the delay to diagnosis.”

Following the successful pilot we are now opening up the survey to all rheumatology departments across the UK.

We want to thank all teams and patients who have contributed so far and hope you want to join us too. 

Do you work in Rheumatology and see patients with Axial SpA?

Help us measure the time to diagnosis across the UK and end diagnostic delay. 

In return you will access powerful data including granular local performance data on time to diagnosis benchmarked against other organisations. The images below show some of the data (anonymised) available to NASS and the sites involved. Click on the images to see the data examples.

Find out more about the Aspiring to Excellence programme here.

This survey and audit tool is funded by the Aspiring to Excellence programme which is led by NASS in partnership with BRITSpA and the NHS Transformation Unit and sponsored by Abbvie, Biogen, Lilly, Novartis and UCB.

Symptoms starting slowly

Pain in the lower back

Improves with movement

Night time waking

Early onset (under 40)