A strategy for the publication of national clinical audit data has been released today as part of the government’s transparency drive.

From this spring, patients will be able to search for clinical audit information via a new portal and NHS staff will be able to give feedback on national audits online.

The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership said its new strategy is designed to make more localised results public and to make findings more accessible for patients.

It also wants to reduce the time lag between gathering data and publishing it, and to put an increased focus on the implementation of audit results.

Prime Minister David Cameron outlined a commitment to making clinical audit data publicly available in his ‘Transparency and Open Data’ letter to cabinet ministers on 7 July last year.

The National Lung Cancer Audit was chosen as the pilot for this new transparency agenda and the results are available today on data.gov.uk, along with a timetable for the release of other audit data.

The HQIP has also designed a set of “rigorous new guidelines” to “ensure information is more granular, more widely available and more accessible for patients and the public."

In the spring, the partnership will launch a search portal for the public to find national audit participation and case ascertainment rates and an online system for NHS staff to feedback on national audits.

The audit programme covers 29 of the most commonly occurring medical conditions, rising to 40 in the coming years, measuring the treatment patients receive and outcomes of that treatment.

Health minister, Lord Howe said the lung cancer audit data made available today was an invaluable resource.

"These are crucial first steps in opening up health data for public scrutiny and analysis,” he said.

“We will set out our vision on how information can support greater choice and improved care when we launch our information strategy in the spring."

HQIP chief executive Robin Burgess said the strategy supported the government’s agenda to not only make data available but also accessible and understandable to the public.

"Clinical audit is about tangibly and fundamentally improving the healthcare patients receive and the outcomes of that healthcare provision,” he said.

“This strategy is a solid platform to quickly establish whether that is happening and, if necessary make the right changes to ensure it does going forward."