I Am A Researcher

What do you need to know?

The UHB Health Research Data hubs are designed to provide access to data for different types of research analysis. The common purpose of all such projects must be use of the data to benefit patients and the public.

What is UHB data?

For more than a decade UHB has been a leader in the effective use of health data to improve quality of care through efficient evaluation of services, audit, research and innovation. UHB has been exceptionally well-placed to do this as it built its own electronic systems, which have been supporting front-line care for more than 20 years. This means that all routinely collected healthcare data ranging from blood pressure measurements to health outcomes are stored within integrated UHB-held systems, facilitating secure in-house analyses by appropriate UHB personnel. This integration also supports a more holistic view of patient care since relevant data can be drawn and analyses supported across multiple disciplines and multiple specialities

Who can apply to access data?

We recognise the opportunity to benefit patients and public through providing access to approved external researchers who wish to undertake projects that are clearly in the ‘public good’.


Applicants will be considered from individuals looking to undertake academic studies or grant funded work that require patient data. Key intentions of the use of this data should be to improve patient care. Appropriate organisations or individuals could include:

  • Universities
  • Academic Institutes
  • Those wishing to have support with projects at Degree, Masters or PhD level

Health Professionals

Applicants who are substantively employed for a NHS Care Trust and looking to use data to help improve patient outcomes and assist in the care they provide. Staff may be from the below groups:

  • Consultants
  • Clinicians
  • Nurses
  • Allied Health Professionals
  • Administrative Staff
  • Informatics Staff
  • Support Services

External Stakeholders & Business Development

Applicants will only be considered if they represent organisations with recognised research programmes and a clear commitment to patient benefit. Appropriate organisations could include:

  • Research organisations and charities
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Health technology companies
  • Start-ups and SMEs
  • Other organisations that can demonstrate how their research will improve outcomes for patients and the NHS
  • Healthcare companies

Why do you want to access health data and is my project Research?

Researchers applying for access to data should be clear on their projects;

  • Use case and it’s benefit to patients and the public.
  • What data would be required whether this may be identifiable or anonymised and how much data is required.
  • The researchers plan for analysis and ability to ensure safe handling of data.

Please watch this short video which explains the different types of processes and approvals required for a researcher when completing Research, Service Evaluation or Clinical Audits.

It is important to note that you should not start collecting or storing data without having the appropriate approvals in place to ensure protection of patients privacy and the researchers against breaching data protection law and being compliant with national legislation.

The UHB Health Research Data Hubs can only facilitate data access requests for the purpose of research. If you are unsure whether your project is Research, Service Evaluation or clinical Audit please review guidance on the HRA website or speak to RD&I department.

HRA Website

Ethical Approvals

Current UHB Health Research Data hubs hold HRA research ethical approvals. The hubs ethical approval can be utilised by researchers, where the research projects proposed, and the intended data use falls within the scope of these.

For research projects which fall outside of the scope of current ethical approvals, researchers are advised that separate ethical approvals will be required for their intended projects.

How do we cost for UHB data access?

An appropriate costing model will be developed for each application, taking into account the nature of the research and any potential commercial value that may derive from use of the data

Data Services

Each UHB Research Data Hub has a range of Data Services available to Researchers for example:

Data Access and infrastructure consultancy
Each UHB Research Data Hub have dedicated team of analysts and clinical staff who can support Researchers at all parts of their application

Access to REDCap
REDCap Software is a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases available to researchers’ accessing data via the UHB Health Research Data Hubs if required. It is geared to support online and offline data capture for research studies and operations and can provide clinicians with an effective tool to help them continue to carry out research at a high standard. For more information email REDCAP@uhb.nhs.uk

Trusted Research Environments and Secure Data Environments

Secure data environments are data storage and access platforms which are built to ensure and uphold the highest standards of privacy and security of NHS health and social care data. They may also be referred to as Trusted Research Environments (TREs) or Data Safe Havens. Secure Data Environments can be used for research and analysis of NHS and Social Care data. They provide a secure environment where authorised researchers can be given access to the data they need for approved projects. They allow for control of what data authorised researchers can access, what authorised researchers can do in the SDE, what they can remove (export), and what they can import.

UHB’s default position, is to provide access to data within a secure data environment so that we can best manage and oversee data access for authorised research and uphold our commitment to the ONS “5 Safes”.

UHB recognises that there may be unique scenarios in which an approved researcher will be unable to conduct their research within a UHB provided and managed secure data environment. In these instances, it is practice to conduct technical, cybersecurity assessment and access processes of the intended environment within which the data will be held. In addition, there will be a legally binding agreement between UHB and the lead researcher’s organisation stipulating the terms of use, duration of utilizing the data, audit of the secure environment and appropriate destruction or return of the data.

Data Safety and Security

Data safety is vital to the work that we do and there are strict controls on how researchers can access health data information. For access to health data to be granted, researchers need to demonstrate that their proposal is an appropriate and ethical use of the data and that it is intended to deliver clear public benefits.

Instead of obtaining explicit written consent from each individual patient, the UHB Research Data Hub’s operate on an ‘opt out’ principle under the National data opt-out for the secondary use of data.

For more detailed information see our Data Safety and Security Page.

Data Safety And Security

Data Use Registers

Data Use Registers are published for UHB Research Data Projects and contain summary information for successful Data Use Applications where a contract between the NHS Data Controller and the lead research applicant’s organisation has been fully completed and secure access to data has been granted. These can be found on each of the UHB Research Data Hubs dedicated web pages and within our Data Portfolio and Publications page.

Health Data Research UK

The Health Data Research Innovation Gateway

The Health Data Research Innovation Gateway is a portal set up by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) to provide a single resource where researchers can discover and request access to hundreds of NHS datasets, including those from UHB Health Data Hubs.

HDR UK Midlands – Health Data Research UK

HDR UK Midlands is part of Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), who are the national institute for health data science. Their regional community is made-up of clinicians, academics, data scientists, informaticians and technologists who are interested in health data science and hosted by University of Birmingham and partnered with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust as well as a number of other consortium partners across the midlands. Their website has information on upcoming regional and national HDR UK events, learning and network opportunities for researchers. To find out more HDR UK Midlands

Find out More

Our Data Portfolio and Publications

Find out more about the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust Data Portfolio, including the UHB Research Data Use Register, the infrastructures we partner with and the projects and programmes we have supported.

Data Portfolio and Publications

If you want to request access to data find out how to do this here

Accessing Health Data