Analysis of the cancer-specific data will help the NHS develop new services and treatments
"Safe access to data is absolutely vital in helping medical researchers explore the impact of Covid-19 on cancer services and outcomes, and more widely to understand the causes of cancer and how best to diagnose, prevent and treat it." Michael Chapman, director of research and clinical trials, NHS Digital
Researchers will be able to use new data from NHS Digital to understand the impact of Covid-19 on people living with cancer.
The data has been shared in NHS Digital’s Trusted Research Environment (TRE), a secure space where authorized researchers can access necessary data for approved projects.
It will enable researchers to analyse the impact of Covid-19 on the referral, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of patients with cancer, as well as those who may become unwell in the future. This information will help the NHS develop new services, tests and treatments.
NHS Digital has worked with DATA-CAN, a partnership of NHS organisations, patients, charities, academia and industry, to provide access to the cancer-specific data.
Michael Chapman, director of research and clinical trials at NHS Digital, said: “Safe access to data is absolutely vital in helping medical researchers explore the impact of Covid-19 on cancer services and outcomes, and more widely to understand the causes of cancer and how best to diagnose, prevent and treat it.
“NHS Digital is committed to making data accessible to researchers in a safe and trusted environment that safeguards patient data at the same time as allowing for world-class research.”
Professor Geoff Hall, DATA-CAN’s clinical lead, professor of digital health and honorary consultant in medical oncology at the Leeds Cancer Centre, said: “As a cancer doctor with a specialist interest in health data research, utilising this national Trusted Research Environment allows us to better understand the impact that Covid-19 has had on NHS cancer services.
“The same data, used effectively and responsibly and with the support of patients and the public, has the potential to drive research into new, more effective ways to diagnose cancer early and could support the development of new treatments to improve people’s lives. It is a really exciting development and has the potential to be a real game-changer.”
The government has recently announced that it will invest up to £200m to enable more secure and efficient access to NHS data. This will help the NHS to deliver new treatments more quickly and to enhance patient care.