eDRIS: enabling research access to Scottish health datasets

The electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS) is an early adopter of EIDF and its Safe Haven services. Carole Morris, eDRIS Head of Service, explains the role of the Service.

Established several years ago, the electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS) acts as a single point of contact for those in the research community who want to link health datasets for research. Over the last few years we have expanded our services to support non-health research.

eDRIS supports researchers who wish to request and make use of Scottish healthcare and other public sector administrative datasets. We offer assistance to:

  • Identify relevant data sources
  • Define data requirements
  • Gain data access approvals.

We also:

  • Provision data
  • Perform data linkage
  • Manage a trusted research environment known as the National Safe Haven.

The eDRIS team is part of the Data Driven Innovation Directorate of Public Health Scotland (as of April 1st 2020).


eDRIS offers the facility to access high quality data and to link data to support a wide range of health and social research. An array of healthcare and administrative data are available for researchers. Working within Public Health Scotland, eDRIS can access nationally collated health data and our close relationship with National Records Scotland and Scottish Government facilitates access to other administrative data. Our Research Co-ordinators will take researchers through what data could potentially be available to them and discuss any opportunities to access data from other data controllers.

We also support a number of national, UK and international research initiatives and programmes including Health Data Research UK (HDRUK) and the Scottish Centre for Administrative Research (SCADR). Enhancing our data offerings is key to enabling good research. Currently we have two large-scale projects on the go to help us do this:

  • Creation of a repository of public sector administrative data (in collaboration with SCADR and the Scottish Government)
  • Creation of a de-identified national Scottish Medical Imaging database for research (in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and the University of Dundee).

Information Governance for Data Access

Whilst the use of data in research is extremely important, it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that it is used for the public benefit and is handled safely and securely. eDRIS helps researchers to ensure that due diligence is done on the information governance around access to data. We work closely with the NHS Scotland Public Benefit and Privacy Panel (PBPP) and the Scottish Government Public Benefit and Privacy Panel (SPBPP) to provide support when making applications to these or when accessing data held by other data controllers.

National Safe Haven – Trusted Research Environment

And finally, eDRIS manages an analytical platform for access or hosting of data within the National Safe Haven. This is a secure environment where data for your project is uploaded and accessed. It offers a high powered computing service, secure analytic environment, secure file transfer, and a range of analytic software including SPSS, STATA, SAS and R.


If you are interested in accessing health or other public sector data for a research project or would like to know more about eDRIS or the National Safe Haven, please do contact us at NSS.edris@nhs.net.  We are always happy to chat.

We are co-located with the University of Edinburgh on the second floor at No 9, Edinburgh Bioquarter. More information on who we are and our services can be found on our website: www.isdscotland.org/edris

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