Coronavirus researchers get improved access to health data

NHS Digital has announced that researchers working on projects related to coronavirus are benefitting from a new service for studying vital health data quickly and securely.

The Trusted Research Environment (TRE) Service for England provides researchers with access to permitted health data for analysis and research via a remote, secure, analytical platform within the NHS. It aims to speed up the pace of research which is vital to the UK’s coronavirus response.

Datasets and analytical tools within the TRE improve the potential to make new discoveries through research. The service also aims to reduce issues researchers have faced in the past with accessing data promptly and in consistent formats.

Benefits of the TRE service include: streamlined access to health data sets in a secure environment for research; ability to link different data sets for research to inform the treatment and care of patients and wider health care policy; remote access by researchers to data in the TRE with the ability to collaborate with other organisations which is essential for responding to coronavirus; access and analysis stays in the NHS Digital TRE, ensuring the security, confidentiality, ethical use, and governance of health data; and access is only provided to trained and vetted researchers.

Brian Roberts, head of the TRE for England at NHS Digital, said: “Covid-19 has generated an influx of research projects coming into NHS Digital. These requests are to either use our data or link it to answer data questions that aim guide national decision making, look at potential interventions and reduce the severity of outcomes.

“We want to provide rapid, safe and trustworthy access to essential health and care data for timely research at scale. It’s a key part of NHS Digital’s strategic vision and gives our customers prompt and safe access to data alongside our existing data dissemination services.”