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UK Health Data Research Alliance formed to support future medical research

The UK’s leading academics and health data specialists have formed an alliance to develop new ways to design and support the medical research of the future, and to improve the care patients receive from the NHS.

The UK Health Data Research Alliance will look atthe best ways to design, use, collect, manage and analyse health data in a responsible way for clinical trials, medical research, and innovation.

Inspired by the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Human Genome Project, “the Alliance will bring together organisations and digital health leaders to mobilise the UK’s health data for science and innovation”, NHS Digital Health said.

Health Data Research UK and NHS Digital are the first partners to join the Alliance, with other organisations expected to follow.

The UK Health Data Research Alliance aims to make health data more accessible and improve data quality in order to build a more innovative and efficient health and care system. Currently only a fraction of NHS and research data is easily accessible to researchers. 

The Alliance will build a set of governance policies and standards to open up this information, while still ensuring that it is safe, secure and only shared where there is an appropriate legal basis.

 NHS Digital said this would help the NHS “to reach its performance targets as well as allowing new clinical research that can pave the way for medical trials into new treatments”.

Part of this work will involve NHS Digital and Health Data Research UK agreeing an approach to using data to better inform clinical trials and to design systems that allow data from across the English healthcare system to be accessible in real time.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “Using health data for research has the potential to deliver solutions to the greatest healthcare challenges we face.

This new alliance brings together the unique data assets across the NHS, and allows access to them by the research community in a safe, secure and ethical framework. From this will flow new treatments and insights which will transform outcomes for patients”.

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, said: “A dynamic partnership between the NHS, academia and industry is critical to create the necessary environment for the sector to continue to thrive and to maintain its status as a world leader.”