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Research Advisory Group

The Research Advisory Group hosted by NHS Digital, brings the research community together to make better use of our data and services.


About the RAG

The Research Advisory Group (RAG), hosted by NHS Digital, brings the research community together to advance the use and effectiveness of NHS Digital's data and services. Group membership consists of senior representatives from across research, the third sector and NHS Digital.  

The aim of RAG is to build a strategic partnership between researchers and NHS Digital. This partnership will: 

  • enable NHS Digital to improve its data and data services  
  • help researchers deliver better research quicker through the use of high-quality NHS Digital data, for the benefit of patients and the public 

Read the RAG minutes

Learn more about our membership

Read our terms of reference

NHS Digital’s research role in Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find examples of how NHS Digital is supporting research and data sharing during COVID-19 below. For the latest information about this and our wider work take a look at our coronavirus programme updates

Lancet study into cardiovascular hospital admission research

New data from NHS Digital has been used by the University of Oxford to look at the weekly cardiac-related hospital admissions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, published in The Lancet, documents a reduction in admissions of patients with heart attacks in England by comparing weekly rates in 2020 to those in 2019.

Oxford RECOVERY trial finds effective treatment for COVID-19

Data from NHS Digital’s Secondary Uses Service (SUS+) and other data sets was used by scientists at the University of Oxford in the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial to help assess the effectiveness of potential treatments for the virus.

GPES data for pandemic planning and research

To support the response to the coronavirus outbreak, NHS Digital has been working with the GP profession to collect and analyse healthcare information about patients, including from their GP record, for the duration of the coronavirus emergency period. Find out how this collection is supporting COVID-19 research in this blog from Dr Peter Short, Clinical Lead for GP Data. 

News and resources from RAG members

News and resources from research organisations

Resources to support health data applications from Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) 

HQIP has designed and published a new series of short films and website content to support researchers and clinicians who wish to access health and care data for uses beyond treating individuals. 

The Understanding Health Data Access (UHDA) project is a suite of introductory resources explaining the rules that govern how health and social care data is shared in England and Wales. It includes an introduction to developing good data applications ,an animated film introducing the principles that data custodians work within to ensure that data is shared safely, legally, fairly and with public benefit. This will be of particular benefit to those with little previous or recent experience of making data applications.

The duty of confidentiality is a more detailed look at the legal requirements around the duty of confidentiality: how it arises, how it can be met, and it how this applies to health data application.

Planning a health data application: questions and information sources is a downloadable visual guide illustrating key steps in planning an application, and providing collated guidance and information across the research and data sharing pathway.

Researcher Roadshow: Fundamentals of using routinely collected healthcare data in research, 28 June 2021, 11.00am - 2.00pm

The NIHR Research Design Service, and partners, is pleased to offer the opportunity to attend the third in its series of researcher roadshows. 

The roadshow, free to attend, is aimed at researchers who want to understand more about the fundamentals of using routinely collected healthcare data for research. 

It will bring together experts from Health Data Research UK, MRC Regulatory Support Centre, The University of Leeds and NHS Digital to outline:

  • potential for using routinely collected healthcare data in research
  • fundamentals of research approvals
  • discovering what healthcare data available – HDR UK’s Gateway
  • healthcare data which can be accessed from NHS Digital with more information about Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), one of the most frequently requested datasets

Sign up 

Sign up for our next roadshow, and feel free to share this link with your network. 

You can watch sessions from the 15 and 17 March 2021 and the 25 November 2020 roadshow 2020 


Please send any questions about this roadshow to

Last edited: 24 May 2021 7:00 am