Public Services > Healthcare

NHS Digital progresses procurement of key data de-identification project

David Bicknell Published 08 December 2017

Prior information notice looks for expressions of interest in key plan to procure new technical solution “to enable consistent de-identification of data for secondary uses”


NHS Digital is setting out to progress procurement of a new system as part of a major project to de-identify data flowing in and out of the organisation.

The organisation has published a prior information notice (PIN) - essentially a note advising that a procurement process is planned within the next 12 months - saying that NHS Digital is in the process of procuring a new technical solution “to enable consistent de-identification of data for secondary uses.” The PIN contains a Contracts Finder link

NHS Digital, which is working with NHS England on the project, said all data will be transmitted through approved secure methods either as de-identified data or as identifiable data which is then “de-identified in secure processing areas upon landing.” Authorised re-identification will be through a controlled central process and the solution is expected to be implemented both regionally and nationally.

The so-called “De-Identification project” is intended to implement a strategic approach to de-identifying the data that either flows into or out of NHS Digital, or requires linkage with NHS Digital data. According to the PIN, the solution will replace “a varied landscape of existing de-id tools across the NHS.”

High level drivers for the De-Identification project are to reduce the risk of unauthorised access to identifiable data; minimise the risks of re-identification; protect patient privacy and comply with legislation, through the consistent application of a standardised de-identification and re-identification capability; enable the linkage of data, without the need to flow identifiers; and provide de-identified data with high analytic utility. 

The De-Identification project is regarded by NHS Digital as an essential part of the Data Services Platform (DSP) Programme which is intended to deliver improvement and innovation in the way NHS Digital collects, processes and shares information, and will be a “consistent de-identification capability that will be deployed across the NHS.”

Expressions of interest in the opportunity have to be made by December 18 and a contract start date of March 29 is anticipated with the contract duration likely to be for five years.

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