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Requesting patient level data or data for academic research

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 the our governance framework.

How to request data for academic research

  1. Check other data publishers to see if the data you're looking for is already available.
  2. Read our application form (Word: 2.2 MB) and terms of reference.
  3. Discuss your research project with NHS Health Research Authority or NHS Digital.
  4. Complete the DARS application process if using sensitive patient-level data.
  5. Email to arrange an appointment to discuss your request with us, and to get a reference number - include any relevant documentation in your email.
  6. Complete the application form and email it to

How we review your request

Our research board reviews requests for research data. 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.

Non-academic requests for patient level data or data from multiple data sources

If data is not published and not available through Freedom of Information you must complete our application for requesting data (Word: 235KB).

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.

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