Your Data

NHS health professionals collect and use patient data every day. This helps you get the right care at the right time by allowing doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to find, understand and treat conditions earlier.

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NHS health professionals collect and use patient data every day. This helps you get the right care at the right time by allowing doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to find, understand and treat conditions earlier.

Every x-ray, blood test result or GP appointment is logged in health records, along with personal details such as age, ethnicity and where you live. This secured information, which is only accessed for specific reasons, supports decision making at every step of your patient journey.

Patient data in research

Researchers also rely on NHS patient data when completing clinical trials and studies to identify potential new treatments or procedures, or to investigate their safety and efficacy (does the treatment work).

Previously, accessing NHS data for research has been costly and time-consuming, delaying the development and introduction of new treatments to save lives.

The national secure data environment (SDE) network, including the West Midlands Secure Data Environment (WMSDE), is designed to make this process easier while maintaining the highest data protection standards.

Our guiding framework

  • Five Safes Framework

    The WMSDE will align its processes and procedures with the Five Safes framework, which is outlined here.

  • Safe Data

    Data for research projects has personal identifying information removed to protect people’s privacy and confidentiality.

  • Safe Projects

    Only approved projects with clear public benefits will be allowed to use data through the WMSDE.

  • Safe People

    Only researchers who are accredited, authorised and trained will be able to use the data.

  • Safe Settings

    Data can only be used inside the secure environment.

  • Safe Outputs

    Researchers’ completed work will be checked to ensure no-one can be identified.

How is data protected?

NHS and care organisations are committed to keeping people’s information safe and being transparent on how it is used.

Researchers can only use the WMSDE once they have proven their proposal is an appropriate and ethical use of data to improve patient outcomes. Patients are involved in this approval process for the WMSDE, through a Patient and Public Advisory Group (see our get involved page) and Data Trust Committee (DTC).

Once approved, access and use of the data is carefully managed by the NHS throughout, following the Five Safes framework outlined above.

Data requests

You can access data held about you through subject access or freedom of information requests.

You can make these requests by:

  • letter
  • email
  • verbally asking (for subject access requests)

If you would like to make a request about your data, then please email us at: WMSDE@uhb.nhs.uk.

The national Data Saves Lives strategy outlines how, as a key priority, people will be given easier access to data kept about them.