Public Health Wales joins network of data experts looking to solve the UK's most pressing health care challenges

Data specialists at Public Health Wales, partnering with NHS Wales Informatics Service, Population Data Science at Swansea University and Social Care Wales, will receive funding of up to £400,000 over two years to join a national network of experts who are working to address some of the biggest challenges facing health and care services today, both nationally and locally.

The Networked Data Lab, created by the independent charity the Health Foundation, is the first network of its kind, bringing together analytical teams from across the country to develop a deeper understanding of the factors affecting people’s health in the UK. It will focus on today’s most pressing challenges, such as understanding how to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable people who are shielding or identifying the unmet need of those with severe mental illness.  

While there is already a wealth of data which could be used to paint a clearer picture of the UK’s health needs – including from GPs, hospitals and local authorities – this information is often very fragmented and does not capture all of the health and care services that people are likely to experience.   

The Networked Data Lab’s partners are already successfully linking data locally, and by combining their expertise, knowledge and experience, the Health Foundation is aiming to create unique insights that will help national and local decision makers to better understand the needs of their community, improve services and design innovative approaches to delivering care.  

Sarah Deeny, Assistant Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, explains:  

‘What has been clear throughout the COVID-19 crisis, is that high-quality and comprehensive data and information are often the key to solving our most pressing health and care issues. Data has played a fundamental role in understanding the challenges presented by the virus and in finding innovative ways to solve problems. But these complex challenges extend beyond the current crisis – the same innovation will be needed in future to ensure that health and care services meet people’s needs.’   

Alisha Davies, Head of Research and Development at Public Health Wales, adds: 

‘We are delighted to join the collaborative network of analytical teams across the UK. This exciting and innovative programme will enable us to accelerate the use of linked data to address key questions in health.

‘Working in new ways with the Networked Data Lab will enable us to deliver timely and more in-depth understanding of highly relevant health challenges facing Wales and the UK.

‘Together we can optimise the use of routine data to address health, prevention and inequalities across generations, and produce valuable insights to inform decisions to improve population health in Wales.’

The Network Data Lab will also share freely the learnings and the code used to analysis, for others to use, to achieve impact at national and local level. 

Find out more about the Networked Data Lab here: https://www.health.org.uk/funding-and-partnerships/the-networked-data-lab