Early in the response to the pandemic, the Government announced emergency provisions for the use of confidential patient information without consent for COVID-19 purposes. Although these provisions were originally due to end in September, they have now been extended to the end of March 2021.
The provisions, known as the COPI Notice, were issued by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to support relevant research and planning activities in response to the COVID-19 emergency, by providing a temporary legal basis for processing confidential patient information without consent.
This means that researchers using confidential patient information without consent in COVID-19 research do not need to apply to the HRA Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG) for support, although they do still need review by a Research Ethics Committee (REC). CAG has provided advice and support to RECs and directly to researchers where a formal REC opinion has not been needed.
The COPI notice was originally intended to be in place until the end of September 2020. However, as there is still a need for COVID-19 related research and planning, the COPI notice will remain until the end of March 2021. We are working with DHSC, NHSX and NHS Digital to ensure that relevant research and planning activities relating to COVID-19, which are expected to continue after March 2021, can move to a permanent legal basis when the COPI notice expires.