A Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation programme

The NHS and social care system faces a number of profound challenges: severe spending constraints, workforce pressure, organisational changes and increasing levels of chronic disease in an ageing population. Meanwhile, with performance reports regularly showing that the NHS is missing key targets for patient care, the quality of care delivered to patients and service users remains under scrutiny.

While many national organisations are monitoring the quality of care, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation believe there is also a need for independent scrutiny by non-statutory bodies.

QualityWatch is a joint research programme monitoring how the quality of health and social care is changing over time. We hope it will both augment and inform the work of other statutory national bodies and initiatives.

QualityWatch aims to:

  • provide an authoritative resource on the overall quality of health and social care
  • independently monitor and comment on changes over time
  • highlight areas where improvement is possible 
  • contribute to improving measures of quality.

Key elements of the programme include over 200 care quality indicators, regular commentary and  an annual statement on quality.

Care quality indicators

Our 200+ indicators feature interactive charts designed to explore changes in the quality of health and social care over time. They are categorised by domain and sector to provide coverage of a wide range of services and aspects of quality.

Domains are:

  • Access and waiting times
  • Capacity
  • Effective clinical care
  • Patient experience
  • Safety
  • Equity and fairness

The newly updated sectors are:

  • Primary and community care
  • Hospital care
  • Emergency care
  • Mental health
  • Learning disability
  • Public health
  • Social care
  • Children and young people
  • Integrated care
  • International

Where possible, we consider regional variation within the UK and draw comparisons with other countries. We generally use existing sources of data, drawing on a wide range of sources, to get a rounded picture of quality.

Our focus is on monitoring change in recent years, setting our analysis within the context of longer-term changes over the last decade where possible. 

Monthly indicator updates

Each month we update a selection of indicators focusing on one aspect of quality, and publish a summary of our analysis. 

Annual statement

Each year we publish an annual statement commenting on the current state of care quality in the NHS in England, drawing on information from our extensive range of care quality indicators.

Previous work

QualityWatch has been moved into the Nuffield Trust website, but all previous QualityWatch blogs, analysis and reports are still available.


Have your say

We welcome comments on the programme, suggestions for areas of interest and are always interested in working with experts in their areas. If your thoughts relate specifically to QualityWatch's indicators, you can use the Disqus comments function at the bottom of the relevant page. These comments are moderated and will be visible to all users of the site.

If you have more general thoughts, questions or comments about QualityWatch, you can get in touch via email.

Individual cases

We aim to provide an overview of the health and social care system and are not in a position to comment or respond to individual cases. The Care Quality Commission provides useful information on what to do if you have a complaint or concern about a care service or provider.