How to apply top section

As well as service-management requests from the NHS, DataLoch also considers applications from researchers who wish to securely access health and social care data from the South-East Scotland region. Researchers can be from private- and third-sector organisations, as well as from academic or clinical settings. Applicants and applications need to meet a number of key governance criteria to ensure their purposes are legitimate and in the public interest.

The DataLoch team works with applicants to understand the purpose and technical requirements of the project. Researchers must undertake training on how to work safely with data. We recommend either the ONS Safe Researcher Training course or the Research, GDPR and Confidentiality modules and quiz from the Medical Research Council.

Each project goes through careful scrutiny by NHS employees trained in data privacy, to ensure the request is appropriate and proportionate. Depending on the specific purposes and data required to support the project, ethical approval may also be required. Public Value Assessments from our Public Reference Group ensure that each approved project is in the public interest. We help guide applicants through any additional exceptional approvals.

Approved researchers can then access and analyse the data extracts within our secure data environment, which is dedicated to protecting the confidentiality of data and meet the best practice national standards for access and information security.

Request Metadata Catalogue access or start an application

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How to apply middle section

Applicants can download the Microsoft Word application form to complete before uploading to the website for submission.

Our purpose is to support improvements in public health and we are not a profit-making service. However, we will apply a charge to cover our costs to support different projects. Our charge is based on the complexity of the application and any consultancy or analytical requirement. We will also consider the type of organisation requesting access, with a pricing structure applied to research and academic institutions, as well as the private sector. However, no charge will be made for projects related to service improvements for the NHS or public sector. 

DataLoch’s consultancy and analytical services include: 

  • Cross-linking structured data  
  • Data analysis 
  • Collaborations with the NHS Lothian BioResource service
  • Governance advice
  • Clinical Team consultancy
GRAPHIC - How to apply to access data

How to apply final section

Accessing the data

Once approved, researchers will access de-identified extracts of data for their project through our secure data environment which has been developed in association with Public Health Scotland and hosted by EPCC at the University of Edinburgh. Researchers can access statistical and analytical tools within the environment such as RStudio. The secure platform puts virtual walls around data so that researchers can only access the data extracts for which they have been approved.

How to access

GRAPHIC - DataLoch application process represented in an infographic