Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) welcomes the government’s focus on delivering better, broader, safer use of NHS data for analysis and research, as outlined in this week’s independent report led by Ben Goldacre 

The report highlights the challenges and opportunities for improving lives using health data.  

Although the pandemic has shown the transformative impact of data research and innovation the potential of health data is far from being realised in full. Only a fraction of NHS, biomedical and health-relevant data is accessible to inform research. Data is of variable quality. Many datasets are still held, unconnected, in individual Institutions and/or on data platforms that lack the computing infrastructure required for advanced analysis. There are major research and technological skills shortages. Public trust and confidence in the use of health data for research remains vulnerable. 

At HDR UK, our mission is to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that improve people’s lives and the report provides clear recommendations that align strongly with our aims. There are many examples of success, including where health data has enabled some of the most crucial analysis and discoveries through the COVID-19 pandemic, including the RECOVERY TRIAL; and understanding the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. 

We look forward to working with our research community across the UK, with our partners in the UK Health Data Research Alliance and our patient and public representatives to continue to find better ways to create value and impact from distributed data assets by developing reliable, safe, and secure approaches to the assembly of a trustworthy data ecosystem. 

Read the full report

Further information 

Learn more about the impact of health data science in our case studies and research publications 

Read about our future 5-year proposals