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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.

Our next researcher roadshow on accessing health data

These events are run by NHS Digital, the NIHR Research Design Service, MRC Regulatory Support Centre, Health Data Research UK, and the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.  You can watch sessions from the 25 November 2020 roadshow 2020 and the 15 and 17 March 2021

If you are interested in attending any of our future sessions please email

Last edited: 13 April 2021 2:54 pm