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Data Safe Haven

Currently, Scotland has regional ‘Safe Havens’ located within Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and a National ‘Safe Haven’ at NSS .

Working to agreed principles and standards these Safe Havens provide access to health data and services to enable research while protecting the confidentiality of the data.  Data remains under the control of the NHS and complies with legislative and NHS policies.

  • National Safe Haven - eDRIS
  • Grampian - DaSH
  • Tayside - HIC
  • Lothian - HSRU
  • Greater Glasgow and Clyde – NHS R&D

These Safe Havens operate independently to provide advice, support and a secure environment for access to a wide range of datasets (including national datasets through to specialised local datasets) but also as a federated network across Scotland working to common principles and standards and common processes optimising the safe and secure flow of data between the different Safe Havens.

Safe Havens in Scotland were established as part of a national need for delivering research excellence and the need for rapid access to high quality health data for research purposes. They were developed in line with the SHIP blueprint which outlined a programme for a Scotland-wide research platform for the collation, management, dissemination and analysis of anonymised Electronic Patient Records (EPRs).

The agreed principles and standards to which the Safe Havens are required to operate are based on the SHIP Blueprint, and set out in the Safe Haven Charter and the Safe Havens are currently undergoing accreditation as a means to demonstrate that robust controls and safeguards are in place.  Use of a (accredited) Safe Haven addresses key areas of interest to Information Governance leads or Caldicott Guardians in reviewing applications for access to health data for research. 

A Safe Haven, in terms of NHS data, is a secure environment supported by trained staff and agreed processes whereby health data can be processes and linked with other health data (and/or non-health related data) and made available in de-identified form for analysis to facilitate research. It is a safeguard for confidential information which is being used for research purposes. Any researchers applying for access to health data must adhere to the Safe Haven principles.