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Definitions, Files & Standards

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NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Definitions, Reference Files and Standards - Data Advice

In order to quantify, compare, contrast and re-use healthcare information in a meaningful way at a national level, data must be recorded using recognised healthcare data standards, definitions, classifications and terminologies. The information produced from these data can then be used to support strategic decision making which will improve the health of the people of Scotland and support a timely, effective, safe and efficient healthcare service.

National Data Standards are essential in order for the health and healthcare data held by ISD Scotland to be of high quality. They ensure that the data are collected throughout Scotland according to the same classifications and rules and the data is interchanged between systems consistently, robustly and securely. Customers include clinicians, project and information managers, clinical coding staff, administrators, healthcare researchers, information analysts and software developers.

Data Standards encompass a range of products and tools which include National Data Definitions and National Reference Files. Some of the products are listed below:

National Data Catalogue Opens in new window
ISD holds NHS health and health related data for over 5 million people in Scotland. This is a wealth of information which can be linked, summarised and analysed to support research studies.

The National Data Catalogue (NDC) details the full list of datasets that are held by ISD. Further information on each of the datasets is available by selecting the dataset name using either the A-Z or the dataset groupings in the left hand bar. The NDC also incorporates the ISD Data Dictionary.

Data Dictionary Opens in new window
The Data Dictionary is the main online source for health and social care data definitions and standards in Scotland relating to SMRs and ISD(S)1. The Dictionary is managed by ISD Scotland and as new definitions and standards are agreed they will be published on this site.

SMR Validation Section Opens in new window
Also part of the ISD Data Dictionary, the SMR Validation Manual contains all the validation rules related to SMR records.

Definitions and Reference Files Service - provides an advisory service to NHS Scotland on the interpretation and application of the definitions, codes and recording rules; principally those that relate to Scottish Morbidity Records (SMRs) and ISDS1. The team manages and maintain ISDs National Reference Files which are used in the validation of the national data. The team also manages National Change Control which is a formal process for managing changes to these national datasets. For further information contact:

Definitions and Standards/Change control:

National Reference Information:

Definitions, Reference Files & Standards Bulletin (formerly QDV Newsletter)
These electronic newsletters contain important information about changes to data recording, validation and issues arising from quality assessment. An archive of all QDV Newsletters can be accessed through the ISD Data Dictionary.

Change Control Group
This group discusses definitional and data recording queries, relating to SMR and ISDS1, raised by NHS boards and the Scottish Government in NHS Scotland. An archive of queries (back to 1996) can be found on the ISD Data Dictionary.

Clinical Document Indexing Standard

The Team provide support in the maintenance of the NHS Scotland eHealth Clinical Document Indexing Standard which can be found here.


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