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The role of patient factors, surgical factors and hospital factors upon patient outcomes and NHS costs in the treatment of upper limb musculoskeletal injuries and infections: spatial and longitudinal analysis of routine data: Privacy Notice

This study uses de-identified routinely collected NHS data to better understand how upper limb (arm) injuries and infections have been treated over the last 20 years in England. 

The main aims are: 

  • To investigate the variation in surgical treatments, revision rates and mortality (death) rates after upper limb injuries and infections
  • To investigate spatial and retrospective longitudinal trends (trends over time) in mortality (death) after upper limb injuries and infections
  • To investigate geographical and temporal trends (trends over time) in management and outcome
  • To assess patient access to care & care costs

Routinely collected data from hospital based care (also known as HES or Hospital Episodes Statistics) are linked via a pseudonymised identifier to produce a timeline of a patient’s interaction with hospital services. This data is also linked to national mortality data from the Office of National Statistics. It contains details where and when the operation took place, the type of operation undertaken, and by linking to other episodes of care, enables a link between the original operation and complications to be made. It is only after all these linkages are made that the resulting information is provided to the researchers.  They will not be able to identify individuals.

This study contains only de-identified retrospective data received from NHS Digital, and therefore does not require full ethics review with the NHS Research Ethics Committee. The study is sponsored by the University of Oxford, in keeping with the requirements of the Department of Health’s UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research.

Research is a task that we perform in the public interest. The University of Oxford, as sponsor, is the data controller. This means that we, as University of Oxford researchers, are responsible for looking after the information received and using it properly. We will use the minimum information possible.  

The legal basis for the processing and storage of personal data for this study is that it is ‘a task in the public interest’ (article 6(1)(e)) and, that sensitive personal data is necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes (article 9 (2) (j), based on Article 89(1)).

The data that we receive and analyse will be identified by a code only, and will not be identified by name, date of birth, NHS number or address. The information received from NHS Digital will be imported into a database held securely by the University of Oxford and used solely for academic research purposes. Importantly, whilst the information received is specific to each person who has received care in the NHS, no individual person will be identifiable in the dataset we receive, nor will an individual be identifiable in any publication arising from this work. If at any point a researcher believes that an individual may be identifiable from the data provided, they will report this to NHS Digital who will review the issue and may take steps to censor that individual record. If you would like to have this data withdrawn, please contact the study team using the details given below.

 What to do next?

If you decide you do not want your data to be used in this way you can inform NHS Digital by using the online at or by calling 03003035678. NHS Digital will not provide us with data for anyone who has previously opted out of research use of their data. 

Data protection regulation provides you with control over your personal data and how it is used. Further information about your rights with respect to your personal data is available at

If you have further questions about the research, please contact the study team using the contact details below. Alternatively, you can contact the study sponsor on 01865 616480 or  You have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commmissioner’s Office (0303 123 1113) or

Contact Details for study team

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