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Data services

As the data custodian for the health and care system, data services has primary responsibility for driving data quality, linking data across the system, and providing reliable statistics and insights.

Guided by an absolute respect for data privacy and a commitment to empowering healthcare research and the UK life sciences sector.


A health and social care system making the best use of all its data to provide better care outcomes, more efficient services and more impactful research, while promoting the privacy and confidentiality of our citizens.

To make this vision a reality, we want to become the data provider of choice for health and social care in England.

Responsible person

Executive Director of Data services


  • to deliver data services for health and social care providers, national entities, life science industry and citizens​

  • to deliver value-creating linked data and insight services, increasing health and social care quality, at a reduced cost, contributing to a thriving life science sector and enabling better policy making​

  • to deliver a harmonised end-to-end approach to data within NHS Digital spanning collection, extraction and curation, promoting data security, privacy and regulations

  • to deliver accessibility of data that safely empowers the health and care ecosystem and citizens

What we do

We make the data we hold in trust for the nation, accessible for those with the correct legal basis, to drive life science research, support a learning health system, and ultimately improvements in treatments and therapies available to patients.

It comprises:

  • strategy and policy
  • research and clinical trials 
  • analytics service
  • data access and publications
  • partnerships and communications 
  • major programme delivery

We collect, process, transform, and optimise the data held in trust by NHS Digital, to make it available to the Data, insights and statistics part of the team. The master registries and data sub-directorate delivers the following:

  • data architecture
  • collection, coding and curation
  • privacy enhancing technologies
  • data platform engineering, technical data standards and architecture

Products and services

Data strategy and policy

Lead: vacancy

Drive the development and delivery of the Data Strategy to meet the priorities and needs of our commissioners, citizens and patients, the health and social care system, and life-science researchers.

Develop and lead the key strategic partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders enabling the effective delivery of a customer-centred strategy.

Research and clinical trials

Lead: Michael Chapman

Providing services to clinical triallists through NHS DigiTrials and development of our service offer to research communities across the health and care system, within academia and within the Life Sciences sector.

Insights and statistics

Lead: Chris Roebuck 

To meet emerging client needs for a rapid intelligence service, including pattern and trend detection, forecasting and variation analysis, on emerging policy matters, and to develop our data science capabilities.

Providing world class national, official and experimental statistics and delivering our open data strategy. 

Data access

Leads: Gary Coleman

Providing world class national, official and experimental statistics, and delivering our open data strategy.

Enabling access to those with a clear legal basis, through our Data Access Request Service and through the National Back Office, ensuring data discrepancies are resolved. The Data Services for Commissioners safely provides anonymised patient-level data to commissioners for use in healthcare planning and payment within the NHS.

Major programme delivery

Lead: Paul Gilliatt

Delivering major data programmes across the directorate, including managing the COVID-19 data programme portfolio, the value of data work in collaboration with NHSX and OLS and the programme management of Digi-trials.

Chief data architect

Lead: Jem Rashbass

Leads on transfer of the National Disease Registration from Public Health England to NHS Digital and data processes and architecture to deliver national healthcare data curation.

Analysis and technology

Lead: vacancy

Leads on Directorate’s Analytics Insights service and development of the technology function. This will include the new Advanced Analytics function which will bring expertise in a range of analytical approaches and techniques into Data Services, some exploratory or novel in nature and the development of a technology function that can provide industry leading platforms and tools to underpin all the services we offer.

Data curation and open data

Lead: vacancy

Ensuring that data extraction has minimal burden for data providers, that data is centrally mapped, that quality is optimised, and that data is linkable at patient level for longitudinal applications.

Coding, collection and curation

Lead: Alex Elias

We design, implement and maintain the data standards used to describe direct care.

We are leading the change in the way we collect this data, to make it closer to real-time, and to reduce burden.

Privacy enhancing technologies

Lead: vacancy

We are strengthening our Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) to ensure that we better protect data and the individuals and organisations it relates to.

Data platform engineering, technical data standards, and architecture

Leads: Tim Gentry

Developing and implementing the next phases of our data platform to transform how we securely manage and provide data to our data services teams and partners, including the Trusted Research Environment for England service.

We enable health and care system transformation by providing access to best-practice policies, patterns, technical data standards, advice and self-service tools to improve data architecture. We support data, data governance, collaboration, and provide access to the national data dictionary and ontology services.

Skills fit for the future

Skills needed

Our talented and motivated teams need to be agile, innovative and work at pace combining robust development, with cutting edge methodology and professional delivery.

To enable us to move forward with delivery of world class data services, we are redesigning our operating model for Data services.

We need more:

  • user experience and customer engagement experts
  • advanced analytical skills and domain experts
  • flexible and talented coders
  • data scientists, data engineers and full-stack developers
  • data visualisation and design experts

 Working with the best universities and industry to:

  • retain, retrain and reassign capable permanent staff
  • attract the best talent, innovation and applied research
  • encourage reciprocal placements and secondments and more higher degree placements

Indication of numbers of staff in the data services directorate in the budget year 2021-22, as at May 2021 and predicted for August 2021. Proportion of staff in the various professions also highlighted.

1. Chart note

† Exact full-time equivalent (FTE) subject to change in line with business need.

* Specialism within Business and Operational Delivery

2. Chart note - numbers of staff

Numbers are as at 1 May 2021

The budget chart reflects the indicative proportions based on the budgeted headcount spend and are subject to revision.

Last edited: 10 June 2021 3:12 pm