UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


ECHILD applications

The ECHILD Database is being made available for research that benefits the provision of healthcare and education. 

Nurse and child in hospital

How will ECHILD be accessed securely?

Access to the ECHILD Database is restricted to fully accredited and approved researchers in the UK and access is only within the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS)The ONS SRS is a secure system that does not allow researchers to copy or remove data to their own computers.  Before any results from ECHILD can be used (for example, a graph in a report), they are checked by an independent team at ONS to make sure that they are safe.   For more information about how ECHILD's data is kept safe, please see "The data" webpage. 

What can ECHILD be used to research?

ECHILD has been approved for research that has a clear public benefit relating to the provision of healthcare and education. This falls under the following five themes. 

  • 1)    Informing preventative strategies by Healthcare and Education services
    • e.g., do disabled children attending schools or living in areas that provide a good level of support in school or social care services for disability have decreased rates of unplanned hospital contacts compared with less supportive schools/areas? 
  • 2)    Informing children and their parents 
    • e.g., about variation in special educational needs support and outcomes for children with chronic health conditions or disability.
  • 3)    Informing education and clinical practice 
    • e.g., investigating whether associations between chronic health conditions and lower school attainment are explained by school absence. The evidence would be important for policies to reduce school absences for children with chronic conditions. 
  • 4)    Identifying groups who could benefit from intervention 
    • e.g., what are the health outcomes of children post age 16 who have contact with social care services or have special educational needs? 
  • 5)    Understanding the most effective methods for working with linked health and education data 
    • e.g., what the most effective methods for working with linked health and education data are. The complexity of ECHILD increases in proportion to the number of datasets and individuals it contains. Therefore, novel approaches need to be investigated to unlock the full potential of the linked data.

The linkage of additional datasets to the current ECHILD Database is not permitted.  Additional linkages require permission from the ECHILD HES and NPD data owners NHSE and the DfE.  The ECHILD Database is not available to commercial organisations.

Find out how ECHILD is being used in research to improve services and benefit large proportions of the population. 

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How do I make an application to use ECHILD?

Researchers wishing to access the ECHILD Database must apply to the ECHILD Data Access Committee (DAC).  The ECHILD DAC manages and evaluates requests according to the data sharing principles and approval ECHILD criteria.  Decisions about which requests are approved are based on the information provided in the application form.  The matters that are considered include:

  • Is the request bona fide research with an established legal basis?
  • Is there a formal ethical review and approval?
  • Is the data requested minimised to focus on the research questions being asked?
  • Does the research Impact on the public perception of the study and is public engagement planned?
  • Are data security requirements met?
  • Are there clear, expected and measurable public benefits relating to the provision of healthcare and education.  Do these benefits fall within the five themes described above?

For more information on the ECHILD DAC and application process, please contact ich.echild@ucl.ac.uk

If the ECHILD DAC supports an application for data access, the researcher must then apply through the Office for National Statistics Research Accreditation Panel (RAP).  The ONS RAP consists of independent members, representatives from government departments, the devolved administrations and members of the public.  The ONS RAP manages the review of applications, evaluating against ECHILD’s permitted uses and the criteria:

  • Is there clear public benefit?
  • Is there demonstrable analytical merit?
  • Is the project feasible?
  • Are any relevant privacy implications sufficiently mitigated?
  • Is the data requested minimised to focus on the research questions being asked?
  • Has the project successfully completed a formal ethical review?
  • Are all researchers ONS accredited and approved?

Forms and further guidance on the application process to the ONS RAP are available on the Research Accreditation Framework website

The UCL ECHILD team also welcome the opportunity to discuss potential applications in advance, please contact ich.echild@ucl.ac.uk 

The details of all approved projects, publications and relevant public engagement will be listed on the ECHILD Release Register.

Find out more about this study’s research, how we collect, manage and use data and what to do if you (or your child) do not wish for your data to be included in research studies.

The UCL research team will not be able to identify you and cannot remove your records from the study directly at your request. You have the right to tell NHS Digital if you do not want the information you provide to the NHS to be used beyond the purpose of providing healthcare. This is known as a ‘patient objection.' Please visit NHS Digital’s website for further details: http://content.digital.nhs.uk/yourinfo. Your choice will not affect the health care or the educational resources you receive.

Please also find more information within the project’s privacy notice.