All NHS organisations are expected to participate and support health and care research. The Health Research Authority and government departments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales set standards for NHS organisations to make sure they protect your privacy and comply with the law when they are involved in research. We review research studies to make sure that the research uses of data about you are in the public interest, and meet ethical standards.

Health and care research may be exploring prevention, diagnosis or treatment of disease, which includes health and social factors in any disease area. Research may be sponsored by companies developing new medicines or medical devices, NHS organisations, universities or medical research charities. The research sponsor decides what information will be collected for the study and how it will be used.

Health and care research should serve the public interest, which means that research sponsors have to demonstrate that their research serves the interests of society as a whole. They do this by following the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research. They also have to have a legal basis for any use of personally-identifiable information.