‘Liberating the NHS’ and the new Outcomes Framework make information central to the management of the UK National Health Service (NHS). The principles of patient choice and government policy on the transparency of outcomes for public services are key drivers for improving the performance. Specialist neonatal care is able to respond positively to these challenges owing to the development of a well-defined dataset and comprehensive national data collection. When combined with analysis, audit and feedback at the national level, this is proving to be an effective means to harness the potential of clinical data. Other key characteristics have been an integrated approach to ensure that data are captured once and serve multiple needs, collaboration between professional organisations, parents, academic institutions, the commercial sector and NHS managers, and responsiveness to changing requirements. The authors discuss these aspects of national neonatal specialist data and point to future developments.
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