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Linking health and education data to plan and evaluate services for children
  1. Johnny Downs1,2,
  2. Ruth Gilbert3,4,
  3. Richard D Hayes1,2,
  4. Matthew Hotopf1,2,
  5. Tamsin Ford5
    1. 1 Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK
    2. 2 NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
    3. 3 Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research London, London, UK
    4. 4 Children's Policy Research Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK
    5. 5 Child Mental Health Research Group, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK
    1. Correspondence to Dr Johnny Downs, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, Box 63, London SE5 8AF, UK; johnny.downs{at}

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    Linkage of routinely collected data from public services has the potential to improve how local health, education and social care are delivered to children. All mental health services, hospital-based child health services, schools and child protection services which serve the same local area could be more efficient if the design, monitoring, targeting and integration of services were based on data. Health services need evidence from the populations that they serve to plan care and know whether they are meeting children's needs, duplicating effort or allowing some children to fall through the net. In this paper, we describe how the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) programme has joined up data from health, education and social services for children living in four local authorities in South London to create two datasets: one linking hospital to children's mental health services and the second linking mental health data to education data. We describe these resources, give examples of how they are being used to improve services and discuss what is needed to implement this approach more widely across the UK.

    What data are available?

    Across England, all National Health Service (NHS) and state education services for children routinely generate administrative data, but few areas have managed to join these data systematically to evaluate how services could better serve their populations. Details of every NHS hospital inpatient admission, emergency department and outpatient contact are centrally collated by NHS Digital.1 Demographic and socioeconomic data on every child in state education are submitted by all state-maintained schools to the Department of Education, along with the information on school attendance, attainment, exclusion, child protection involvement and special educational needs.2 Centrally collected child mental health data have yet to become available, but nearly all local services collect these data within their electronic health record systems.3 A big challenge is meeting …

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