Information about you that is collected during a research study may be kept securely to be used in future research in any disease area, including research looking at social and economic factors affecting health. This may include combining it with information about you held by other health or government organisations such as NHS Digital. Usually the information is combined together by matching information that has the same NHS number. Doing this makes maximum use of the information you have provided and allows researchers to discover more.

Researchers may not be able to specify all the possible future uses of the information they keep. It could include providing the information to other researchers from NHS organisations, universities or companies developing new treatments or care. Wherever this happens it will be done under strict legal agreements. The information about you will be depersonalised wherever possible so that you cannot be identified. Where there is a risk that you can be identified your data will only be used in research that has been independently reviewed by an ethics committee.

On rare occasions NHS organisations may provide researchers with confidential patient information from your health records when we are not able to seek your agreement to take part in the study, for example because the number of patients involved is too large or the NHS organisation no longer has your contact details. Researchers must have special approval before they can do this.