Below is a list of commonly asked questions on how HIC can help you.

HIC hosts and updates linkable health data for the whole population of Tayside & Fife, Scotland – 800,000 or 16% of Scottish population, covering Community-dispensed prescribing, hospital stays, diagnoses and interventions, Lab tests and Deaths. HIC also hosts a number of research data collections.  Go to HIC’s active dataset catalogue. 

Accurate linkage is enabled using the NHS unique individual identifier, the Community Health Index number (CHI).

Yes, in many situations. When the data items can be supplied with full name, address, date of birth and postcode, HIC has tools to accurately identify and index the data for subsequent linkage. 

PLEASE NOTE: Before Identifiable data can be used for indexing, APPROVAL must be sought, and granted, from the Data Controller.

Typically, CALDICOTT Guardian approval is needed for using NHS data

DIRECT patient consent is needed for all most other uses. 

For guidance please refer further to HIC SOP Data Access Approvals.

Contact HIC by emailing ( Please include a brief description of your question and/or requirement. HIC reviews each request to make sure the most appropriate member of staff contacts you for a follow-up discussion.


Yes. Prior to submitting a funding proposal, HIC are happy to assist with creating aggregate reports of population sizes, which match you project’s cohort inclusion criteria.

HIC generally offer this service for free, as part of supporting University of Dundee research activities. However, where feasibility searches are complex, or repeated, then HIC may be required to request a fee. 

No. Aggregates will only report (sub-)totals of participants matching specific criteria e.g. Males > 56 years old in Tayside; Aggregates do not report individual level data, therefore do not require approvals. Specific aggregates that report less than 5 matches are suppressed, and reported as <5.

HIC Services is funded (using  a cost recovery model) through money allocated within individual researcher grant applications.
When a project requires the use of HIC Services, the Principle Investigator (PI) must contact HIC to discuss specific requirements, and request a HIC Services Quotation.

HIC has many demands on its time so as early as possible in the proposal planning phase.

Please allow at least 4 weeks before any grant processing deadline to meet; assess requirements and for HIC to prepare a HIC Services quotation.

Contact HIC to schedule a Data Requirement User Meeting (DRUM). The DRUM is a very important meeting, for both the research team and HIC. 

A DRUM aims to confirm project details from the pre-award data Project Scope document and Quotation; agree a delivery schedule & project milestones; as well as define a communication strategy for providing feedback at key delivery points.

Governance requirements are discussed and agreed.


Yes. Medical research projects that use electronic medical data require some level of governance approval. Which approval depends on the research, and the type of data.

Please Note: HIC is an approved Safe Haven, regularly audited by the NHS; HIC’s Data Governance committee is chaired by the local NHS Caldicott Guardian.  Projects using HIC to manage their data benefit from existing close relationships with the NHS Tayside/NHS Fife and TASC.  

Data Requirement Approval Required

100% retrospective data project, only using anonymised historically stored electronic data. 

 NHS Health-board R&D Approval

Requires the exchange of patient identifiers data between research team and HIC

Caldicott Guardian & NHS Health-board R&D Approvals

HIC is required to host a new clinical dataset, which contains sensitive person identifiable data, so that it can be subsequently linked to an anonymised extract created for research team.

Caldicott Guardian approval from health-board, includes agreement from the clinical data owner, for HIC to host the dataset. In addition to Caldicott the clinical owner may stipulate specific dataset specific dataset usage approval.

Research requires access to patient identifiable data e.g. to review patient notes

Project-specific Caldicott Guardian approval.

Identify people for the purposes of contact and recruitment into a study

Project-specific Caldicott Guardian approval, Ethics committee review.

Ethics review, which can be applied for at:

Sponsor approval. Contact TASC at

General Approval Notes: All research projects, using NHS data, will need NHS R&D approval. 

 For guidance on approvals follow theHIC SOP Data Access Approvals

For further information and assistance please contact Duncan Heather

To protect data confidentiality, satisfy public concerns about data loss and reassure Data Controllers that their data is secure. HIC operates an ISO27001 certified  remote-access “Safe Haven” environment.

In this model extracted data is not released directly to data users but is placed on a server at HIC, within a tightly controlled and secure IT environment. Each data user is given their own secure remote access to carry out their analysis.

Yes. HIC will contact each individual to provide the current version of the Data User Declaration to read and sign, if a current copy is not signed already. HIC also require the Research Data and Confidentially E-course hosted on the Medical Research Council website to be completed and the certificate to be emailed  to our support team before a request to set up access to the safe haven will be processed.

If you have been locked out of your account or forgotten your password please email HIC Support with your project number requesting a password reset.

If your account has expired a email must come from your Project PI, specifying the project involved and the length of time the extension is required for, to HIC Support. You will be notified if this request has been approved and your account reactivated.

Project data will be located either on the Z: Drive, or in a specifically named project folder on the P: Drive, which can be accessed through Computer in the Start Menu. All data must be saved to these locations.

No individual-level data are permitted to be removed from the safe haven by data users. Only analysis outputs e.g. reports, summaries, aggregates, graphs etc. may be removed.

Between 9-11am the next working day(Mon – Fri) the output file(s) will be reviewed by HIC and, once verified as not containing individual-level data, emailed to the data user.

HIC can provide a secure data collection system, as part of a one-off research project, or for more extensive longer-term data collection, e.g. NHS-based clinical data collection and disease registers. HIC’s existing software development and data management experience; access to both NHS and University networks; secure systems and environments; familiarity with NHS data and research environments; makes HIC well placed to provide a range of web-based and other data collection solutions.

For further information contact Keith Milburn.

To enable HIC to understand the project requirements, anticipate what governance approvals may be required and provide an accurate costing. Please see page 24 of the HIC User Guide to ensure you have all the information we will require. 

General enquiries about the room can be obtained by completing the room booking form here