NHS England - Transformation Directorate

Accessing data for research and analysis


We have recently published a consultation seeking feedback on the latest update to data access policy.

The Data Saves Lives Strategy sets out a commitment for the implementation of Secure Data Environments as the default way to access NHS health and social care data for research and analysis.

It is clear that NHS health and social care data has immense value beyond the direct care of patients. It accelerates the discovery of new treatments from industry and academia, and helps the NHS to plan better services.

Public confidence in how data is used and protected must be ensured if its full potential is to be unlocked. The use of Secure Data Environments represents a strategic move away from a model of data sharing to one that is based on access. This approach is endorsed by a wide range of experts, including the recent Goldacre Review.

Secure Data Environments have specific design features that allow approved users to access and analyse data without the data leaving the environment. Widespread adoption of these environments, in combination with our overarching policy, will help build public confidence in how their data is stored and used. It will also provide researchers and analysts with quicker access to data and the learnings of others.

Secure Data Environment policy will ensure that appropriate technology, processes, and governance are upheld whenever NHS health and social care data is used for research and planning. This means that a variety of approved users can analyse data, whilst ensuring that the highest standards of security and privacy are maintained.

Further information