Schools Infection Survey (SIS) data linkage
The Covid-19 Schools Infection Survey (SIS) took place in 150 schools across 15 local authorities in England during the academic year 2020 to 2021 and was enlarged in the academic year 2021 to 2022 to include 180 schools. The study was designed to investigate the role of schools in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection and more.
The University of Bristol and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) will analyse de-identified SIS data, as well as linked health data on things like diagnoses, prescriptions, and GP and hospital visits, for SIS participants.
Specifically, the University of Bristol, LSHTM and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have applied to NHS England for permission to link SIS data with the following electronic health record data held by NHS England:
- GP data (General Practice Extraction Service [GPES] Data for Pandemic Planning and Research [GDPPR] data)
- Hospital data (Hospital Episode Statistics [HES] data: Outpatients, Critical Care, Accident and Emergency, and Admitted Patient Care)
- Emergency Care Data Set (ECDS) data (a newer dataset which will replace the Accident and Emergency dataset)
- Prescription data (Medicines dispensed in Primary Care NHS Business Services Authority [NHSBSA] data)
- COVID-19 testing data (COVID-19 Second Generation Surveillance Systems [SGSS] data).
The University of Bristol and LSHTM are joint data controllers for the study. The University of Bristol, LSHTM and ONS are joint data processors for the study. The request for the linkage is submitted under the following condition: “Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.”
An additional condition is required for any processing of special personal data. Special personal data used in the study will include health data and data on ethnicity. The condition under which the data linkage request for special personal data is submitted is: “Processing is necessary for archiving in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes based on UK law.”
Electronic health record data covering the period 1 April 2019-31 March 2023 have been requested. The linked data will be retained only for as long as they remain useful to the study, after which they will be deleted. The University of Bristol and LSHTM will not see any personal data. They will access the de-identified data through secure environments. The data linkage has received ethical approval from the Confidential Advisory Group (22/CAG/0130) and East of England – Cambridge South Research Ethics Committee (23/EE/0013).
The original consent material provided as part of the SIS enrolment information outlined the intention to link SIS data to other data sources. However if, as a SIS participant or a parent/caregiver of a SIS participant, you wish to opt out of the further linkage to health data held by NHS England for this study, please contact: email: email@example.com; phone number: +44 (0)208 039 0326 by 9 June 2023.
Please also see the COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey: Privacy, Cookie, and Accessibility Information on ONS’s website, which includes more information on the purposes for which data are collected, the storage of the data, and who to contact about use of your data, relevant for SIS participants and their families.
Covid-19 Mapping and Mitigation in Schools (CoMMinS) study data linkage
The Covid-19 Mapping and Mitigation in Schools (CoMMinS) study ran from November 2020 to December 2021, led by the University of Bristol in partnership with Bristol City Council, the UK Health Security Agency and schools in Bristol and surrounding area. Similar to SIS, its aims included to understand how SARS-CoV-2 infection spread in schools and families.
The data linkage for CoMMinS has been commissioned by NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (BNSSG ICB), which is the data controller.
BNSSG ICB has a duty to ensure that organisations work together to improve outcomes for people, to improve quality of services, and to reduce inequalities.
The University of Bristol is processing the linked data on behalf of the data controller BNSSG ICB. The condition for processing is: “Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest.” The condition for processing of special category personal data (including data on ethnicity) is: “Processing is necessary for the purposes of preventive or occupational medicine … or the management of health or social care systems and services.”
Electronic health record data covering the period 1 November 2020-31 December 2021 have been requested. The linked data will be retained only for as long as they remain useful to the study, after which they will be deleted. The University of Bristol will not see any personal data. They will access the de-identified data through a secure data safe haven.
Collection of CoMMinS research data has received the required ethical approval by London – City & East Research Ethics Committee (REC reference 20/HRA/4876).