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Social care data collection for pandemic planning and research coronavirus (COVID-19)

This collection will provide controlled access to a range of existing data to support service planning, outcome monitoring and research during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased and urgent demand for social care data for planning and research.

To support care providers and help them manage the coronavirus (COVID-19 ) pandemic, care management IT suppliers introduced the ability to record the COVID-19 status of care receivers and staff in their systems. This has meant that care providers have been recording COVID-19 status information as part of their workflow within their care management software.

As part of their terms and conditions with their customers, social care management IT suppliers can share the data they hold on behalf of their customers for the benefits of health and social care planning and research.   

To support the response to the coronavirus outbreak, NHS Digital has been legally directed to collect and analyse social care information, relating to COVID-19, under the COVID-19 public health directions 2020 from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

To enable this collection, a Data Provision Notice has been issued under Section 259 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. 

We have been working with care management IT suppliers with a view to merging existing COVID-19 status data together into one new anonymised data set.

Care management IT suppliers are contacting their customers (care providers) to seek their specific permission to enable the flow of data to NHS Digital, in accordance with the terms of the Data Provision Notice.

What the data will be used for

This collection will provide controlled access to a range of existing data to support service planning, outcome monitoring and research during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is expected that the new data collection will help the system understand the trends and impact of Covid-19 over time and what impact different variables such as the type of care home and the age profile of care receivers can have.   

The data will be used to help to guide the wider system in being able to predict how future outbreaks will continue to impact care providers and adult social care delivery in the medium to long term. 

The new data collection will include information on the COVID-19 status of care givers, along with information on location, type of care provision, and key demographics of care receivers, to identify current and historical trends.

Details of the data which will be collected is available in the Data Dictionary. 

This data will not be used to reach judgements about the quality of care within an organisation as part of a current or future Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection. 

How the data will be collected

The data is recorded as part of the care delivery workflow within a number of care management systems that are in use by social care providers.

The data collected by NHS Digital will not include directly identifiable personal data. NHS Digital will undertake further mitigating action, such as small number suppression, before the data is shared, to anonymise the data and prevent any indirect identification of individuals.

This initiative, and its ongoing role in complementing the daily Care Provider COVID-19 data collections, has the support of the Care Provider Alliance, Local Government Association and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Who we will share the data with

NHS Digital is the national safe haven for patient data in England and we collect, analyse, publish and share health and social care data safely, securely and appropriately as part of our statutory functions. 

NHS Digital will work with colleagues across the social care system - initially on a restricted basis, to analyse the data with a focus on identifying trends. 

In the future, the intention is to release this information to participating care providers and the wider sector in an accessible form, such as an information management tool, so that it can be used to help local, regional and national colleagues plan and deliver services.  

A sector wide board will oversee the data collection and analysis and will include representatives from the care provider sector.

The data will only be shared to support the coronavirus response. 

This data collection will cease on the 31 March 2022, but this date will be reviewed in September 2020 and every six months thereafter.

Further information

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    COVID-19 Public Health Directions 2020

    A Direction given by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requiring NHS Digital to establish and operate information systems to collect and analyse data in connection with COVID-19, and develop and operate information and communication systems to deliver services in connection with COVID-19.

Last edited: 19 August 2020 9:34 am