Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Message from ONS on 27 March 2024:

Important update about the transition from the SRS to the IDS

Over the past 12 months we have been keeping all users of the Secure Research Service (SRS) updated about the transition to the Integrated Data Service (IDS). In our previous communications, we confirmed that work was ongoing to identify a date to finalise the transition to the IDS, and that we would be in touch with users when plans had progressed.

Please read the important updates below in full as these will give a detailed update on the latest plan. This is for information only at this stage, and no action is required from SRS users until otherwise instructed.

Key messages

  • All active SRS projects will either be completed in the SRS or fully transitioned to the IDS by March 2026.
  • New project applications will no longer be accepted by the SRS after 30 September 2024. All new projects will begin in the IDS after this date.
  • This will be made possible by working closely with data owners to move all SRS data to the IDS by September 2024 and by implementing improvements in analytic tooling including a solution for Stata by Summer 2024.

Please read on to understand the reasons why these decisions have been taken.

New SRS project applications

As you may be aware a triage process was introduced in autumn 2023 for new SRS project applications. This process is designed to assess all new project applications for their suitability to begin in the IDS, where the data and tooling requirements for the project are available to do so.

The introduction of this triage process ensures that the transition is as smooth as possible, and that we do not have an unmanageable number of projects to transition from the SRS to the IDS.

Following extensive consultation with users and stakeholders, and considering feedback received, we have now mapped out a path of transition for users, their projects, and all datasets to the IDS. Based on our current delivery plans we are confident that we will be able to support the majority of SRS user needs by autumn of this year. Therefore, a decision has now been reached that the SRS will not accept applications for new projects after 30 September 2024.

Setting a realistic timeline for transition allows the space to ensure the decisions we have made are achievable. To ensure we are on track for delivery to this date we will be regularly reviewing our progress, alongside the development of the IDS. This will also consider user feedback from the service, the outcome of pilot transition projects, and discussions with our partners to ensure that the IDS is a suitable replacement for the needs of SRS users.

Active SRS projects

Access to the SRS for existing projects will continue as normal for the time being, and existing users will see no impact in the short-term. Existing projects will be able to continue in the SRS until such time as they reach their specified project end date or can be fully transitioned to the IDS.

The running of the SRS alongside the IDS is not open ended, and we have set a clear marker for the closedown and full transition to the new service. Our plan is that the SRS will fully transition to the IDS by March 2026.

We will be in contact with existing SRS users over the coming months to discuss any impact to their project(s). However, based on project end dates, SRS projects:

  • ending before March 2026 - will be able to run until their agreed end date within the SRS with no impact. Users on these projects are welcome to transition sooner if they wish to do so and make use of the functionality offered in the IDS.
  • ending after March 2026 – will need to be transitioned to the IDS during their project. The transition team are currently assessing these projects and will be in touch directly with project leads before the end of the year to discuss the transition process in more detail.

Why have we taken this decision?

Following extensive planning, user testing and validation, we have confidence that the key requirements for transitioning SRS users will be resolved by the end of 2024:

  • Data availability – we are working closely with data owners to gain their agreement that all datasets from the SRS can be made available within the IDS by autumn 2024. This means that we will be able to serve all data needs of existing SRS users after this time. In addition to this, new datasets that were previously unavailable in the SRS are being added to the IDS regularly, providing a richer selection of data for new SRS users to utilise for research and analysis. The IDS website is regularly updated to show the current data available in IDS, including datasets transitioned across from the SRS.
  • Tooling availability – the IDS tooling offer is regularly being developed and expanded. We have listened to your feedback through extensive user research and use case analysis, providing additional confidence that the tools soon to be available in the IDS can meet most of the user need from the SRS. There is now a solution for Stata which delivers most of the functionality that users will be familiar with from the SRS. The IDS website details available and upcoming tools and will continue to be updated with new tools as they are made available.
  • IDS service maturity – the IDS offering continues to develop with new functions and capabilities being added regularly. Starting new projects in the IDS from autumn 2024 will provide a steady flow of new users to validate service maturity and ensure it is meeting SRS user need. Continuing to transition existing SRS projects across to the IDS, over the following year until the full closure date of March 2026, will keep the growth of the service at a manageable rate alongside its development.

Next steps

This message serves as advance notice of key transition dates. Project applications can continue to be submitted as normal, however researchers wishing to submit a project application in the coming months should first consider the IDS as the place to start their projects, should the required data and tooling be available.

Existing users are not required to take any action at this time and will see no impact to their active projects in the short-term. The transition team will be in touch with affected users in the coming months to update on any future impact to their projects. We will also publish detailed information about the specifics of these dates as soon as we can. We are working closely with ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK) to ensure a smooth transition for our users, including those with ADR UK funded projects.

We will continue to send regular communications to potential and active users to keep them informed on progress. Please continue to keep updated on the latest with the transition through the monthly SRS newsletter, which will detail developments in this space, and will flag new data and capabilities made available in the IDS.

Thank you for engaging with our updates on the transition from the SRS to the IDS so far, and for all the feedback and input which has helped to shape the direction of the transition to the new service.