Stethoscope and laptop

Updated 9 September 2021 to include the final ODI response

This is the Open Data Institute (ODI) response to the UK government’s proposed data strategy for health and social care: Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data (draft) launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in June 2021.


The government has requested comments on its draft data strategy for health and social care: Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data (draft).

Information collected by health and care organisations helps to improve individual care, speed up diagnosis, plan local services and research new treatments. Data saves lives. It also saves everybody time and NHS and care services money that can be put back into patient care.

The draft data strategy sets out the Secretary of State’s vision for how data will be used to improve the health and care of the population in a safe, trusted and transparent way. It aims to provide an overarching narrative and action plan to address the current cultural, behavioural and structural barriers in the system with the ultimate goal of having a health and care system that is underpinned by high quality, readily available data. It has been framed as the next step of the discussion about how we can best utilise data for the benefit of patients, service users, and the health and care system.

ODI response

We responded to the consultation with an open letter, and previously shared a draft to gain feedback and help inform others’ responses. 


The ODI is pleased that the government has published its draft health and social care data strategy ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’, but wants to make sure that the incoming Secretary of State for Health and Social Care recognises the scale of his task and is committed to acting on it. Among the recommendations in the ODI’s open letter are calls for the government to:

  • not skimp on creating a trustworthy and trusted data sharing culture in the NHS and social care
  • build a strong data infrastructure and ensure it is integrated into national strategy
  • ensure that the strategy benefits those who are digitally excluded and does not compound bias on ethnic or economic grounds
  • recognise the huge challenges regarding the quality of social care data and invest in the long term changes needed to improve data infrastructure in this area
  • empower NHS staff, researchers, data infrastructure builders, developers and innovators both nationally and locally to use data effectively for public benefit

Read our open letter in response to the proposed health data strategy below: