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The Scottish Health Informatics Programme (SHIP)


SHIP is an ambitious, Scotland-wide research collaboration that was established in 2008 to enhance the safe and secure collation, management, dissemination and analysis of Electronic Patient Records for research. The programme brings together the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews with the Information Services Division (ISD) of NHS National Services Scotland. SHIP is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

The SHIP Vision

The SHIP vision is for Scotland to set an international standard for the safe and secure use of electronic patient records and other population-based datasets for research purposes in order to create new knowledge that informs the delivery of quality health care and the development, implementation and delivery of policy at a Scottish, UK and International level.

The centre mast of SHIP is the development of an infrastructure for the provision of national datasets to researchers for health related research.  One of the key aspects of this has been the creation of a research portal for electronic patient records already held by NHS Scotland that will provide rapid, secure, access to the type of data that clinical scientists require.  Alongside this SHIP aims to develop and evaluate systems that work across institutional boundaries to allow linkage between large, federated, third party research datasets and the NHS Scotland research portal.

The SHIP Information Governance Toolkit

There are many examples of the benefits derived from analysis of health care data for research purposes in Scotland.  Scotland has some of the most comprehensive health service data in the world.  Despite impressive results, it is evident that considerable uncertainty about the legal requirements persists amongst research and data custodian communities and this has sometimes led to confusion and delay when applying for and using patient data in research.   

The purpose of this toolkit is to guide researchers and others in the Scottish research community through the legal and ethical framework surrounding the secondary use of patient data. It is hoped that this will reduce the current confusion which is evident in the research community and help to streamline the application process for applying to use patient data.