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The Trusted Research Environments (TREs) Hub is a new collective for training in the handling of sensitive health and social care data

The TRE Learning Hub is a digital platform that provides easy access to a range of education and training resources to support the upskilling of UK researchers and innovators. This will support users in their understanding of public perspectives and governance requirements when accessing and working with sensitive health and social care data.

What is a Trusted Research Environment?

Trusted Research Environments provide secure and trusted infrastructures and services to create an efficient and safe approach to store, link and enable access to data. Data required for research or innovation is typically detailed, personal and may be sensitive and therefore must be treated with proportionate care and governance. TREs support privacy by design and support researchers and practitioners utilising frameworks like the Five Safes as tools to support the safe use of data.

Why is this training important?

Putting data at the centre of responses to challenges in systems (e.g. health and care or economic) is critical to improving services. Developments in technology such as AI and partnerships between the NHS and private or third-sector organisations can result in new and improved healthcare technologies, treatments and medical devices that support better outcomes for patients. Reaping the benefits from the wealth of routinely collected data in the public sector to support frontline services requires research, development and innovation resource such as software/AI developers and expertise from across sectors.

While TREs support privacy by design, access by users beyond academia and the NHS has been limited and remains largely aspirational. Users beyond academia and the NHS are those researchers from different disciplines and organisations, including software developers, AI experts and others from third- and private sector organisations. These organisations are critical to driving improvements to health systems and outcomes across the United Kingdom, but may not have grounding in health and care data challenges, governance and responsibilities in accessing sensitive data via a TRE.

The initial online training course targeted at innovators and TRE users beyond academia and the NHS, and it aims to ensure robust standards are clearly achieved before granting data access. It covers governance and standards for access to sensitive health and social care data using the Five Safes framework. The Five Safes framework is a set of principles adopted by a range of data centres providing secure access to data around the world. Assessing each aspect of the framework individually and as a whole is part of how TREs ensure data are hosted and accessed safely. 

Who will benefit from the TRE learning hub and training course?

The education and training resources within this space intend to upskill TRE users to support innovation and interdisciplinary research in the innovation and insight community, including health and social care providers, private and third sector. 

The ‘Safe Data Access: Working in Trusted Research Environments’ course will be most beneficial to researchers or innovators working in the following areas or roles, such as:

  • Start-ups and SMEs 
  • Software developers 
  • Large corporates 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts
  • Care providers and service improvement 
  • Data controllers
  • Technology and device innovators 
  • Cross-cutting researchers 
  • Innovative and data-driven research charities
The TRE learning hub is in Beta phase and new features will be frequently released.