ADR UK comments on researcher call for improved data access

Categories: Press releases, ADR England

6 July 2020

The recomendations include:

  • reducing the costs of administrative data access to researchers;
  • simplifying approvals processes for de-identified data access;
  • reducing data release delays through increased capacity;
  • and enabling more efficient data access through remote systems.

The letter’s recommendations are addressed to the Information Commissioner’s Office, UK Chief Medical Officers and UK Government departments, as well as secure data access providers – some of which are ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK) partners.

Commenting on the letter, Dr Emma Gordon, Director of ADR UK, said: “Administrative data is an invaluable resource for public good, and our mission is to harness its potential in a safe and responsible way. As such, we welcome this letter from the research community, highlighting the importance of timely and efficient access to data, during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

“This is a moment at which administrative data research is really coming into its own, as shown by the huge amount of work going on across the ADR UK partnership to enable targeted responses to Covid-19. This data will only continue to grow in importance as we seek to understand and address the pandemic’s long term effects on the economy and society.

“As we move forward, it is essential that we continue to provide research access to de-identified data in a way that is supported by the public. ADR UK’s infrastructure, and that of our data processing partners, provides an existing best-practice framework for doing so, ensuring that people’s data is safe from misuse, and only used proportionately for projects in the public interest. We are working with government to expand access to a rapidly growing portfolio of linked public sector data, both at a UK-level and in the devolved administrations, with new data acquisitions being made on a regular basis. This includes making UK Government and Office for National Statistics (ONS) datasets available via the secure research environments in all four UK nations.”

“The recommendations made in this letter are sensible and desirable, and ADR UK data processing partners are working hard on relevant improvements. Thanks to ADR UK funding, the ONS is significantly increasing the processing capacity of its Secure Research Service, and has recently launched a streamlined online Research Accreditation Service, all without imposing data access charges on researchers. Partners are also working on extending secure remote access, building on years of experience doing so safely at the SAIL Databank, part of ADR Wales.”

Find out more about data available through ADR UK partners, how researchers can access it, and the Office for National Statistics’ new Research Accreditation Service on the ADR UK website,

You can also find out more about the work ADR UK partners are enabling in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and measures in place to enable continued access to data for research at this time.

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