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Data Access Request Service (DARS)

The Data Access Request Service (DARS) can offer clinicians, researchers and commissioners the data required to help improve NHS services.

COPI Notice expired - 30 June 2022

Information on Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 (COPI). 

COPI Notice Exit guidance for organisations on processing of Confidential Patient information now the COPI Notice has expired. Read the step by step guidance

Please contact [email protected] if you have any further queries about this.

National Disease Registration Service (NDRS)

The process for requesting NDRS data has changed. Further information is available in the NDRS section below. 

If your query relates to charges for National Disease Registration Service (NDRS) Data, see the October 2022 update.

Organisations and individuals wanting to use certain kinds of data need to show they meet strict data governance standards by completing our DARS application process

The DARS team only share special categories of personal data to organisations that have the appropriate legal basis according to data protection laws and that such data sharing will be of benefit to health and social care.

NHS Digital can provide access to a wide range of products and services

View the range of data products and services available through DARS.

We make charges to cover the costs of managing your application, processing data and providing access. View our latest charging guidelines.

How to access our data

Not all enquiries progress to the application stage - it may be that your requirement can be satisfied through existing published data.

If you need any help or guidance with the DARS process, contact us.

When you're ready to proceed with an application you'll need to follow the DARS application process.

Once your DARS application has been approved, data will be made available either by secure electronic file transfer or through the National Secure Data Environment.

Contractual controls

Data is never provided without a contract. The contract is critical in controlling the purposes for which data can be used.

The process of review and approval described above is key to the development of a legal contract.

All releases through the DARS process are covered by two contracts:

Data Sharing Framework Contract with NHS Digital which creates a framework of legally binding terms and conditions that applies to each and every agreement with NHS Digital to share data with the data recipient. A data application cannot be progressed until an organisation has signed a contractually binding Data Sharing Framework Contract.  

Data Sharing Agreement relating to the specific use of data covering the data required, minimisation, purpose, funding, any commercial element, processing activities, outputs, benefits and transparency and legal basis. Once all reviews of a data application are completed satisfactorily then a contractual Data Sharing Agreement is issued.

National Disease Registration Service (NDRS)

The National Disease Registration Service (NDRS) is a collection of data on all cancers, rare diseases and congenital anomalies diagnosed each year in England.

On 1 October 2021, the responsibility for the management of NDRS transferred from Public Health England (PHE) to NHS Digital. NHS Digital is now the data controller for this data.

October 2022 update

Applications for National Disease Registration Service (NDRS) data can now be made through NHS Digital’s Data Access Request Service (DARS). While completing an application for data, you will notice ‘Total Cost’ at the top of the page. The ‘Total Cost’ is an estimated charge for processing and disseminating the data you request. As NHS Digital is currently developing a pricing structure for NDRS data requests, the cost shown will be incorrect.

How to get the correct cost associated with your data request

Once you have submitted your application for data, a case officer from the DARS team at NHS Digital will contact you. They will be able to provide you with more details on the cost associated with your data request.

If you are making a resubmission for data already received or an amendment to a current Data Sharing Agreement (DSA), costs may have changed. In this instance, submit the data request to a DARS Case Officer who will be able to confirm associated costs. 

Access of NDRS data via NHS Digital routes – update May 2022

As part of the long-term plan for data access to NDRS data through NHS Digital, we are beginning to transition the service from UKHSA Office for Data Release (ODR) to NHS Digital Data Access Request Service (DARS).

There are 3 stages to the transition of the service:

1. Expired or expiring data sharing agreements

From 9 May 2022, the NHS Digital DARS service will begin to contact all current ODR Data Sharing Agreement (DSA) holders with expired and expiring contracts to ascertain whether they wish to extend their contract or undergo the data deletion procedure.

2. Current applications

If you have an application already in the system, the DARS team will be making contact with you in the near future to confirm your data access request and provide you with an estimated completion timeline. This includes those who have applied for access to NDRS data since the transition of NDRS to NHS Digital on 1 October 2021.

3. Future applications

From 20 June 2022 applicants will be able to make new applications to the NHS Digital DARS service.

Please note, new expressions of interest, applications and amendments for NDRS data will no longer be taken forward by the ODR and will need to be made to NHS Digital directly.

When open, the intention is that DARS will initially only process applications for data which sit under the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) suite of products.

This webpage will explain the process and documentation needed to gain access to data via DARS.

Please note that this will be a beta service with initial release functionality that will be increased over the following months. This means that for the time being, applicants will only be able to request NCRAS data as prior, and not any additional linkage to NHS Digital datasets. Further information will be made available when this service is up and running.

For requests for data which sit under the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service (NCARDRS) suite of products, please contact [email protected].

Update on current applications and enquiries – August 2022

We have been working closely with the former service responsible for the data access and governance arrangements and have now reached a position where your application/enquiry has transitioned across to NHS Digital.

We are working through the requests in date order and will be in touch with applicants directly when we come to the request. It is likely that we will need to put these requests through our formal data request process here in NHS Digital and we will work with applicants to utilise as much of the information they have already provided to ODR. Whilst we work on assessing the requests it may be useful, if applicants have not done so already, to familiarise themselves with the NHS Digital DARS standards which applications will need to meet. These can be accessed on the DARS guidance page. 

Please do not make a new application to us until we have contacted you so we can ensure that we direct you though the most appropriate route.

More information

Find out more about the new process for accessing NDRS data through NHS Digital and what will happen to existing applications and agreements.


If you need further information about the current routes for NDRS data release please contact [email protected].

How NHS Digital protects data

Our decisions and actions are bound by law and policies. We will check that there is an appropriate legal basis for us to receive, process and pass data to you. We will also check that you have safeguards in place so that you store and handle the data safely and securely.

We carry out data sharing audits to check that you meet the obligations in your data sharing contract and Data Sharing Agreement.

Learn more about how NHS Digital protects your information.

Contact us

To discuss any aspect of DARS or an existing application call the team on 0300 303 5678 or email [email protected].

Existing customers can also contact their assigned case officer.

Further information

internal Data Access Request Service (DARS): process

A summary of the stages you'll need to navigate in your application for data. The DARS process consists of the following stages: Enquiry, Application, Approval, Access, Audit and Deletion of data.

internal Data Sharing Audits

We carry out independent audits to check that our customers are meeting their obligations towards data security.

internal Data Uses Registers

The Data Uses Registers are published every month and provide information on our Data Sharing Agreements. They are supplemented by the Internal Data Flow Record that provides information on data sharing internal to the organisation

Last edited: 7 February 2024 1:02 pm