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National COPD Audit Programme: primary care workstream 2015–18

What we are doing

This workstream, part of the National COPD Audit Programme, involved the collection of audit data relating to COPD patient care and management from routinely collected data in computerised primary care records. The audit has only been conducted in Wales.

On 1 March 2018, adult and paediatric asthma were added to the COPD audit programme when the National Asthma and COPD Audit Programme (NACAP) was launched.

The first round of the audit ran in 2015 (data from the 2014–15 period was collected), with a Welsh national report published in October 2016, and local health board reports published in November 2016. The English national report was published in November 2016.

Following a second round of audit in 2017 (data from the 2015-17 period was collected), a Welsh national report was published in December 2017, along with seven local health board reports and a quality improvement focused slide deck.

COPD Audit Programme

The primary care audit included all patients over the age of 35 years with a diagnosis of COPD on primary care registers in Wales. The audit looked at diagnosis and treatment of the condition within primary care, and at the recording of data on general practice systems.

To deliver this work, the National COPD Audit Programme and its partners worked with the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) to collect, analyse and report on the findings. Data items were identified by read code.

Audit indicators were selected to map to appropriate standards, guidelines and frameworks, for example the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standards for COPD, as related to primary care.

This work has been supportive of quality improvement (QI) activities in primary care in both England and Wales.

Workstream timeline

  • January–May 2017: recruitment of general practices to opt into the audit
  • May–June 2017: extraction of general practice data
  • summer and autumn 2017: analysis and preparation of national report
  • December 2017: publication of national report.

Data processing

No patient identifiers were collected or held by the audit programme, as the data was pseudonymised at source. This means no patient identifiable information left the practices in which the patient is registered and that no patient is able to be re-identified by any party.  The audit has Welsh Data Quality System (DQS) governance group approval to conduct this audit.    

This audit operated on an opt-in (at practice level) basis, which meant that practices needed to actively enrol in the audit in order for their data to be extracted and included. The NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) automatically extracted the pseudonymised data required for this audit, which were then securely transferred to the Royal College of Physicians and Imperial College London for analysis and processing, to produce national and local health board level reports. Practice-level reports have been made available to each individual practice, but will not be made publicly available.

Data was published only in aggregate and no information will be released that could be used to identify individuals.

The resources page contains information on the data queries that were collected, as well as a patient information sheet and a patient poster, available in both English and Welsh. This page will be updated regularly, including the Read codes that were used.

Please note that the data collected for this audit may periodically be shared with other organisations in a completely anonymised format. Circumstances may include research, or for local quality improvement initiatives. Data will only be shared if appropriate legal approvals are in place, and no information that could be used to identify individuals will be released. Any such use of the data will always be in line with the overall aims of improving care and services for people with COPD.

If you would like more information about the audit, please contact a member of the audit programme team (copd@rcplondon.ac.uk; +44 (0)20 3075 1526) to have your details removed.

Who's involved


The RCP is working closely with the National Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to deliver this workstream, along with key stakeholders including the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

What we have produced

Documents developed to help practices participating in the national COPD primary care audit (Wales) 2015–17 navigate the process.
'Planning for every breath' is the second of the Welsh COPD primary care audit reports and presents data relating to primary-care-delivered COPD care in Wales. It also includes a QI-focused slide set.
This primary care report aims to provide English general practice with recommendations regarding the care and diagnosis of people with COPD.
The primary care snapshot audit report for Wales in 2014–15 offers insight into the clinical effectiveness of COPD care in the general practice setting. Local health board reports and a QI-focused slide set are also available.
The primary care workstream ran an audit in Wales in 2015. A Welsh national report, local health board reports and a report for England were published.
The national COPD primary care audit (Wales) 2014–15 collected information to measure the delivery and quality of care which COPD patients received at their GP surgery.