The UK is privileged to have a rich set of healthcare datasets across all four nations. Investment to improve safe and trustworthy access to and quality of these datasets will therefore act as an important and positive input into the wider health research sector, supporting innovation and scientific discovery.

The collaborative efforts of the UK research community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic over last two years have demonstrated the huge value in the secure and transparent access to healthcare datasets for research. The secure and transparent use of healthcare data has been a crucial component – for example the use of data to enable the “National Core Studies”, the work of the BHF Data Science Centre to understand the effectiveness and safety of vaccines; and role of the HDR UK DigiTrials Hub to enable the RECOVERY Trial, which discovered dexamethasone as life-saving treatment for hospitalised patients. This new investment will provide support to build on this work.

It is also positive to see that this investment will focus on the development and use of Trusted Research Environments. HDR UK is working with the UK’s leading healthcare and research organisations to establish Trusted Research Environments as a crucial component of secure and transparent access to healthcare data, by encouraging and supporting their development, for example by providing the sector with comprehensive guidance on development, implementation and use.  HDR UK continues to work closely with NHS Transformation Directorate to make sure these best practices are the heart of this vital contribution.

Professor Andrew Morris, CEO and Director at Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), said:

“The UK has been at the forefront of the global research response to better understand, treat and prevent Covid-19. As the national institute for health data science, Health Data Research UK’s mission is to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that improve people’s lives. The investment announced today to enhance data infrastructure in the National Health Service will allow the UK’s scientific community to build on this work and advance the UK’s position as a global leader in healthcare research.


Enhancing data infrastructure for trustworthy access to large-scale, representative datasets supports great science. We look forward to continuing our positive collaborations across the NHS, medical research charities, academia and industry, to deliver even greater health benefits for people across the UK.”

Read the announcement