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Requesting patient data not available through Freedom of Information

How to request patient-identifiable data

  1. Discuss your research project with the NHS Health Research Authority.
  2. Apply to the relevant research ethics committee for approval (this approval must be supplied as part of your application).
  3. If you want to link our primary care data with Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) sensitive patient-identifiable data, complete the DARS application process at NHS Digital.         
  4. Read our data for research application form (Word: 578KB) and research board terms of reference (Word: 2.1MB).
  5. Email us at to discuss your request - include any relevant documents (for example, the ethical approval or your legal basis for requesting patient-identifiable data).
  6. Complete the application form, including purchase order details, and email it to

How we review your request

Our research board reviews all requests. They decide if it meets the requirements and if we can support it.

We'll give you a reason if we're unable to support your request at the time of application. 

Reviews usually take 6 to 8 weeks. It may take longer, depending on our resource availability and how complex the request is.

There will be a non-refundable charge for reviewing your request. If your request is approved, there will be additional charges to cover the cost of processing and delivering the data.

Non-identifiable patient data or data from multiple data sources not available through Freedom of Information

If data is not published and not available through Freedom of Information you must complete our application for requesting data (Word: 227KB) and return to

We'll then review your application.

If it contains the appropriate detail, we'll schedule an appointment to discuss any elements that need to be considered in order for your application to progress.

Some important elements of an application that often require further discussion include:

  • the legal basis under which you access the data
  • technical feasibility - whether we can provide what is being requested
  • the purpose for wanting the data, including what benefits will be yielded for health and social care in the UK

The application will be sent back to you if more information is required in any of these areas.

We'll work closely with you to capture the necessary detail in your application.

You then resubmit your application with the additional information included.

We do not charge for data but we do apply charges to cover the cost of processing and delivering the service. We make sure charges are applied fairly and consistently, broadly determined by the amount of effort and approvals required.

Charges apply to any application received after 1 February 2019.

Charges are calculated on 4 key service components, which are the:

  • type of application
  • volume of data requested
  • number of times throughout the agreement that you require data to be disseminated
  • nature of the service requested

Costs will be based on a daily rate of the analytical resource involved. Each request will be individually costed including a charge for assessing the request.

Actual costs will be confirmed at the end of the application process and formally agreed before work commences.

The importance of using data

We recognise the importance of using data to benefit public health. It’s important to use data in an ethical, controlled and consensual way.

Our policies make sure that data used for public health research remains confidential.

All requests for data are subject to the provisions outlined in:

Find out more about our governance framework.