Almost all (98%) of the UK population are registered with an NHS GP practice, providing a wealth of data and information about interactions with health and social care provisions. This data, which is captured in routine datasets (except where somebody has actively opted out), has the potential to save lives – it allows health care services to be evaluated, health needs and inequalities to be recognised and addressed, and important health improvement projects to be developed based on need.

While the data provides so much hope and potential for better health and wellbeing, confusing data access arrangements mean that those who could analyse the data to inform change and improvement, can’t. Often, analysts are unable to access this vital information in a timely way, meaning the data goes unused and is abandoned.

Recognising the challenges faced by researchers wanting to use routinely collected health and social care data to build understanding and improve healthcare services, Brighton and Sussex Medical School has developed a Data Science Hub resource, as part of a project funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) to provide guidance and clarity, eliminating the fog of confusion around national and regional datasets and help unlock their full potential for greater, public good.

One of the latest developments in the health data science sector is the NHS Federation Data Platform (FDP).  In her blog, Katie Goddard, ARC KSS Data Hub Co-ordinator, explains what the NHS FDP is and how it will work, why the NHS needs a shared platform, how NHS data will be handled and how public concerns are being addressed.

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