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TREE university update

The Trusted Research and Evaluation Environment – also known as TREE is a North East and North Cumbria (NENC) programme seeking to improve how health and care data is made available for health and care service planning, evaluation and research in a regionally governed, secure environment.

TREE will allow partners from across the NHS, local authorities and universities to collaborate on evaluation or research projects using data from different sources to answer specific health and care questions relevant to our region.

What will TREE mean for researchers and academics:

  • TREE will help to create collaborative opportunities for local and national research projects.
  • It provides a regionally accredited, standardised approach to data management, access and information governance.
  • Researchers will have more timely access to relevant and linked health and care data, which is appropriately secure and governed.

As a regional resource TREE will also:

  • Support universities by enhancing their grant bidding capability.
  • Make the region more attractive for students and post-graduate researchers.
  • Provide a rich resource for education and training.
  • Be more cost effective for all organisations by using a shared regional platform, resource and governance.


The programme will build on the success of previous work as part of the Connected Health Cities programme with Durham University and the Academic Health Science Network – North East and North Cumbria. This project explored accessing data from different sources in a secure and governed environment, while setting up the regulatory and legal frameworks required for a Trusted Research Environment (TRE.)

The NENC region has a long history of working collaboratively within healthcare – this is becoming even more formalised as the NENC Integrated Care System (ICS) develops.  

TREE provides a unique opportunity by providing a regional capability that has the trust of our health and care organisations and safeguards to involve university partners, on projects that will ultimately benefit our population as we understand more about their health and how we can improve care.

Current programme status: May 2022

Following a regional consultation last year, a strategy for the TREE programme was developed.

The TREE will be governed by the NENC Integrated Care Board (ICB) which becomes a legal entity on 01 July 2022. The ICB is the formal statutory body which will govern the ICS (or the geographical NENC region). An Outline Business Case has been prepared for the ICB with recommendations on how to progress the programme.

Trusted Research Environments are gaining national prominence - we want to ensure the region develops the TREE consistent with national strategy and are working with bodies including NHS England and Improvement and HDRUK.

NHS England's ‘Data Saves Lives’ draft strategy  the Goldacre Review - Better, broader, safer: using health data for research and analysis and notice of a government funding call £260 million to boost healthcare research and manufacturing have all recently been published and the TREE programme continues to work with national partners to ensure strategic alignment.

If you would like to find out more about the programme, or have a possible project you would like to discuss with us, contact tree@ahsn-nenc.org.uk

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