Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced 11 new areas of medicine whose outcomes for patients will be audited, monitored and published regularly in future.
This brings to 40 the total number of areas of medicine involved in National Clinical Audits. They will measure a variety of different indicators depending on the clinical area involved, such as mortality, patients' own feedback and hospitals' success in making sure patients get the right treatment quickly.
The 11 new clinical areas selected for audit are: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); emergency laparotomy; the National Vascular Registry; prostate cancer; healthcare for individuals with learning difficulties; specialist rehabilitation for patients with complex needs; chronic kidney disease in primary care; ophthalmology; breast cancer; rheumatoid and early inflammatory arthritis; and healthcare for individuals with sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV.
Mr Lansley announced the extension of government plans to audit outcomes across and range of different clinical areas in a speech given at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
"Better data means better quality in the NHS - for patients, their specialist clinicians and crucially for you - both as their GPs and as their future commissioners of these services," he told the audience, and he thanked the College for leading the ongoing work to publish comparative data on the provision of services by GP practices, due from December.
"It means patients can make better-informed choices. It means specialists can compare themselves with the best and learn the lessons. And it means you can commission services from specialists who have learned those lessons," he added.
COPD will be one of the first new audits to be commissioned, before the end of the year, said the Health Secretary, and he added that this will be "a huge piece of work which will serve a large number of patients whose care straddles the primary, secondary and tertiary divide."
The other new audit to be published before year-end will be emergency laparotomy. Subsequent audits will be commissioned two at a time in the following months until all 40 are underway. Results will be published from 2013 and on a regular basis thereafter.