Transformation Directorate

Researchers, analysts and innovators

We have to close the gap between research and the delivery of care, and encourage research participation and innovation across the system. By increasing the scale and quality of the data sets available to researchers, while maintaining the necessary safeguards to ensure privacy, we can create even richer data insights.

Our vision: researchers will be able to safely and easily access data to provide innovative solutions to health and care issues for the benefit of all

As a researcher or analyst, I will have:

  • easy ways to find members of the public to join research and innovation studies in areas such as developing new treatments, vaccines or diagnostic tools to support patients and service users
  • easy to understand guidance explaining what I need to do to access data
  • safe environments to analyse information without needing to receive patient identifiable data, so that I can explore hypotheses or identify and pursue new areas for research and innovation, through access to wide-ranging studies or clinical data.

Our vision: innovators will be supported to develop and deliver new solutions quickly and safely for the benefit of all citizens, staff and the system

As an innovator creating or deploying new data-driven technology for health and social care, I will have a clear understanding of how to work with the health and care system through:

  • clear guidance on data partnerships that maximise benefits to the public and the system
  • open standards, code, APIs and systems architecture so that my innovations will easily and effectively work across the system
  • adequate documentation of the data and the APIs
  • clear understanding of my obligations to respect data privacy and a clear description of any regulatory, data protection, data handling and cyber security obligations, so that I know how to build these in at the beginning of my project
  • a speedy and simple approvals process for my application to interact with health and care data, so that I can get it out to users quickly
  • clear route maps to deploy technology at scale across the system, so that my solution has the best chance to seamlessly integrate into care pathways and frontline ways of working

Key commitments to achieve this include:

  • to work with expert partners and the public to implement secure data environments as a default across the NHS. We will do this by delivering (December 2022):
    • a clear public guide to secure data environments and our overarching policy guidelines for the use of secure data environments
    • a robust accreditation regime to ensure our high standards for secure data environments are implemented. This will include not only accreditation requirements for secure data environments but also guidance and oversight on users of the environment, as well as the process to monitor and assess implementation.
    • a full technical specification, drawing on industry best practice, including requirements to ensure interoperability, cyber security and the use of privacy-enhancing technologies
    • a comprehensive roadmap to ensure all partners across the system know how to implement our framework, with clear indicative timescales and expectations for those at different readiness levels. This will include not only those delivering the transformation in the NHS but also software providers, academic and industry researchers, as well as funding agencies.
  • to build on platforms such as NHS DigiTrials to support the best use of data and digital tools in study feasibility, identification and monitoring of research participants, to enable faster, more efficient and effective clinical trials (commenced from March 2021)
  • to help regulators to develop fit for purpose regulations that are easy for the market to navigate, including approaches for the health and care sector to validate AI technologies and recommendations on the use of synthetic data sets (June 2022).