NHS Digital and NHS England merger – what it means for Confidentiality Advisory Group or Research Ethics Committee approvals.

Last updated on 27 Jan 2023

On 1 February 2023, NHS Digital will merge with NHS England. NHS England will be responsible for all of NHS Digital’s activities. If you have Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG) support or Research Ethics Committee (REC) opinion which involves working with NHS Digital, you may be wondering what this means for your application.

What do I need to do for my existing research that has HRA, REC or CAG approval?

In terms of your CAG support or REC approval the short answer is - nothing! You should carry on as normal.

Any approval from a REC or from CAG to existing research involving NHS Digital data will still apply after the merger. The name change from NHS Digital to NHS England will not be considered as an amendment to the study, so you do not need to notify the Health Research Authority, REC, or CAG.

If your research participant information mentions NHS Digital, you should change that to NHS England at your next planned update.

You don’t need to change any contracts or agreements referring to NHS Digital, as responsibilities will transfer legally to NHS England.

So, I don’t need to submit an amendment request for an existing approval?

You don’t need to submit an amendment yet. You can make any changes as part of any future amendments. You don’t need to make any extra requests or complete extra paperwork.

We hope that approaching changes this way will avoid adding extra burden to already busy study teams.

What if I am about to submit an application for approval?

If you will submit your application after 1 February 2023 and you need to reference NHS Digital in it, use the new name of NHS England instead.

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