Health data

Health Data Research UK to realise potential of data with new £70m investment

The UK health sector is moving to fully leverage the power of data as more than £70m of new investment is made available to help tackle some of the world’s biggest healthcare crises.

The funding has been awarded to Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and will support the organisation’s ongoing work to streamline secure access to data to ultimately facilitate innovations that improve treatments and boost outcomes.

HDR UK was established five years ago with initial funding of £52.7m but, following an extensive review by an international panel, the decision has been made to increase the next five years of investment to £72.3m.

The funding will help HDR UK catalyse work in a number of places, including:

  • UK-wide research projects that will drive the use of large datasets in a range of areas; from cancer and heart disease all the way to analysing how social and environmental factors impact health;
  • Working with a range of organisations to tackle the issue of data fragmentation and inconsistency;
  • Collaborating with patients and members of the public to ensure data access remains safe and trustworthy, and is through secure systems that benefit the population.

Professor Andrew Morris, director at HDR UK, said: “The transformative potential of health data research is a long way from being realised in full. Only a small proportion of NHS, biomedical and health-relevant data is accessible for research.

“Our work is far from done if we are to benefit patients and improve lives – this significant funding award is a step change in ensuring we achieve this mission.”

The investment has been allocated by nine partners, including:

  1. The Medical Research Council
  2. The British Heart Foundation
  3. Cancer Research UK
  4. The Economic and Social Research Council
  5. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  6. The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates
  7. Health and Care Research Wales
  8. Health and Social Care R&D in Northern Ireland
  9. The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

Health minister, Will Quince, added: “Data is key to better understanding the health of individuals and the population as a whole. With increased use of data we can speed up diagnoses and even predict outcomes and prevent conditions from developing.

“Health Data Research UK is leading the way in progressing safe, secure access to information, backed by £15m of government funding through NIHR, to accelerate trustworthy access to large data sets. This will help improve treatments, deliver better care and ensure a better quality of life for patients both now and in the future.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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