Use of Covid Data for Research Purposes

The OpenSAFELY COVID-19 research service provides a secure analytics service that supports COVID-19 research, COVID-19 clinical audit, COVID-19 service evaluation and COVID-19 health surveillance purposes.

Under the COVID-19 Public Health Directions 2020 NHS England has been directed by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to establish and operate the OpenSAFELY service. While each GP practice remains the data controller of its own patient data, they are required under the provisions of s259 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to provide access to de-identified (pseudonymised) patient data through the OpenSAFELY service.

The service enables individuals (academics, analysts and data scientists) approved by NHS England to run queries on pseudonymised GP and NHS England patient data which is held within the GP system suppliers’ data environments. Controls are in place to ensure that individuals only have access to aggregated outputs from the service (i.e. they cannot access information that either directly or indirectly identifies individuals).