Skip to main content

NHS DigiTrials

NHS DigiTrials, the Health Data Research Hub for clinical trials, is part of a number of new services being developed to enable more efficient and effective clinical trials. It supports commitments made to life sciences following the publication of the Life sciences: industrial strategy and publication of the Life Sciences Sector Deal 2.

DigiTrials logo

About NHS DigiTrials

Clinical trials enable the development of new and improved treatments to transform patient lives. As important as these trials are for improving patient care, they can be difficult to establish and run.

NHS Digital saw a valuable opportunity to support clinical trials while protecting patient privacy with the scale and reach of the data held in trust for the nation.

Working in partnership with the University of Oxford Big Data Institute, IBM and Microsoft, and commissioned by Health Data Research UK through the UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, we have created the NHS DigiTrials Service to provide data, expertise and infrastructure specific for clinical trials. NHS DigiTrials is supported by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), the National Institute of Health Research Clinical Research Network, and the Health Research Agency, who are members of the governance board.

What the service will offer

The first release of the service focuses on enabling a rapid feasibility assessment of the number and location of eligible patients through secure analysis of clinical and demographic data sets.

This service aims to:

  • enable more opportunities for participation in research
  • reduce the cost and complexity of developing new treatments
  • reduce drug costs to the NHS improve the quality of evidence on the effectiveness and safety of new treatments for patients and their doctors. 

We have worked closely with clinical trialists and patients to ensure they have been included in the design of this service. 

Further phases are subject to funding include:

  • Identification: Identifying suitable patients to be invited by the appropriate investigator to participate in a clinical trial
  • Communication: Improving communications between clinical trialists, patients and their general practitioners before, during and after the trial
  • Outcomes:  Linking trial cohorts to NHS data sources to collect information on relevant medical events to provide an efficient and comprehensive assessment of clinical safety.

What are the benefits

The feasibility service will support searches across:

We will update this list as additional data sets are made available. If you have any specific data sets you think would be beneficial to be added to this service please email us.

We are developing a range of analyses which we hope will encourage patients to participate in trials in the future including the number and location of patients who meet certain demographic clinical eligibility criteria or for patients who may be based near a research trial site.

All outputs (data) from the service are anonymous and provided as tables with small numbers suppressed to protect individual privacy. These can also be supported by maps.   

This is a chargeable service. Learn more about DARS charging information

Responding to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Recognising that clinical trials will be focused on Covid-19 for the foreseeable future, and understanding the need for outcome data to support this vital work - namely data about clinical interventions across a range of care settings - we have taken the decision to move beyond a core feasibility offer. 

We will continue to make incremental improvements to supporting feasibility, but are pivoting resource to support the large number of requests for outcome data that we are now receiving. 

Focusing on outcomes data will better address current clinical trial needs and is central to our vision of creating a service that provides clear benefits at the right time and in the right way. 

To submit a request

Please download, complete and send a feasibility service request form.  

Your data rights

Improving health and care relies on better pathways and treatments. These are validated by carefully controlled clinical trials.

NHS Digital aims to support researchers to make the best use of the data we hold in trust to select the most appropriate participants. This not only reduces the cost of the trial but should also improve the quality of the study leading to better pathways and treatments the future.

All of the above services protect individuals’ data rights and only take place where there is an appropriate legal framework in place.

Find out how NHS Digital make sure patient data is protected and handled securely

NHS DigiTrials board

A board convenes on a monthly basis to provide scrutiny, governance, challenge and direction for the evolving NHS DigiTrials service.

Membership is comprised from the four host partners alongside research and patient and public representatives.

We are committed to transparency through the board and minutes will be routinely published for review.

Minutes from the board meeting on 31 January 2020

Minutes from the board meeting on 28 February 2020. 

Minutes from the board meeting on 17 March 2020. 

Minutes from the board meeting on 21 April 2020. 

Minutes from the board meeting on 22 May 2020. 

Contact details

If you need assistance completing this form or would like to enquire more generally about the NHS DigiTrials service, please contact enquiries@nhsdigital.nhs.uk or phone 03003035678 with the details of your enquiry.

If you are contacting us about an existing enquiry or application please include your NIC number when you contact us.

Last edited: 14 July 2020 12:20 pm