COVID-19 data research service

We are bringing together expertise, resource and capabilities from a range of existing programmes across the public sector

To support the current public health emergency we are bringing together expertise, resource and capabilities from a range of existing programmes across the public sector including RDS and HDRUK national core studies programmes. 

COVID-19 Data Research Service
In response to the public health emergency in March 2020, the Scottish Government set up a Data Taskforce to support operational decision-making and evidence-based policy. This work has been continued by Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Data and Intelligence Network, which focuses on enabling collaborative research and analysis for Covid-19 decision making. As part of this work a Covid-19 database was created for key datasets to be linked safely and quickly. The Covid-19 database now contains 36 datasets, including data from PHS, NHS24, SAS, NRS Census 2011, COG-UK, ISARIC and Post Hospitalisation Covid study. eDRIS is currently providing support to 90 active COVID related research projects and since April 2020, has successfully helped 68 COVID related research studies and amendments to existing studies get approvals in place from the relevant data controllers. To find out more about the Covid-19 Research Database please follow this link.

HDRUK National Core Studies Programme

The National Core Studies consist of six programmes - Surveillance & Epidemiology, Transmission and Environment, Clinical Trials - Vaccines Clinical, Clinical Trials – Therapeutics and Longitudinal Cohorts and a sixth underpinning enablement workstream, Data and Connectivity were set up as a part of this programme. Data and Connectivity established in October 2020, brings together UK-wide health and administrative data available and accessible for research through a federated Health Data Research UK Innovation Gateway (UKs portal for data discovery and access request) and streamlines data access request, enabling the delivery partners in four nations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to provide data through existing or newly established  secure, trusted environments for researchers.

The Scottish TRE, under the management of PHS via eDRIS, has been supporting research for over seven years via a secure analytical environment, operated by the University of Edinburgh’s EPCC (Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) on behalf of PHS.  Since April 2020, to support rapid COVID-19 research, Scottish National health and non-health datasets have been hosted securely in the National Safe Haven. The National Core Studies programme helps us to build on this existing infrastructure by onboarding key NCS datasets, funding resources and infrastructure to maintain and enhance its capabilities.

Protecting Privacy 
After the pandemic is contained, data will be destroyed or transferred to another data holding subject to the appropriate safeguards and governance. 
All NHS data in the COVID-19 data holding will remain under NHS (PHS/NSS) control. All non-NHS data will be handled in line with the law and the strict contractual agreements that are in place between the NHS/NSS and partners.
At the forefront of our response to COVID-19 is ensuring that privacy is maintained, and that research is always carried out transparently and in the public interest.
This will include safeguards such as alignment with Scottish Government’s Guiding Principles for Data Linkage, the UK Data Service’s 5 Safes Framework and time-limited solutions that will only apply for the duration of the current public health emergency.
You can read more here about how research is carried out safely and securely.

Guidance for researchers
For research access to the COVID-19 Research Database that supports immediate and future health and care demands relating to our response to COVID-19, researchers can find more information here and get in touch via phs.edris@phs.scot referencing the accompanying guidance.

For new, bespoke data access requests that are directly COVID-19 related and use only Scottish Government datasets or NRS census data researchers can visit Scottish Statistics referencing the accompanying guidance.

The Scottish Government also publishes official national statistics in 1,000 bulletins each year, most of which are National Statistics. Most bulletins include data that can be downloaded. A 12-month calendar of forthcoming statistical releases is available.

Public Health Scotland is one of Scotland’s largest producers of official statistics, responsible for collecting and publishing statistics relating to health and social care across Scotland at a national, regional and local level. Find more information here. 

The Scottish Government’s Open Data platform allows access to the data behind The Scottish Government’s official statistics.

Public Health Scotland’s Health and Social Care Open Data platform gives access to statistics and reference data for information and re-use.