What is the SAIL Databank?

SAIL stands for Secure Anonymised Information Linkage. The SAIL Databank is a world-class flagship for the robust secure storage and use of anonymised person-based data for research to improve health, well-being and services. Its databank of anonymised data about the population of Wales is internationally recognised. Backed and endorsed by the Government, the SAIL Databank receives core funding from the Welsh Government’s Health and Care Research Wales.

description What is the SAIL Databank? description SAIL Databank 10 Year Review

Data Linkage Using the SAIL Databank

Billions of anonymised, person-based records are held in the SAIL Databank and, subject to safeguards and approvals, these can be linked together to address important research questions. This advanced data linkage research platform is the UK’s first single resource for population, health and social care data intended solely for research. The SAIL Databank is home to the broadest and most accessible source of anonymised population data in the world and offers a secure environment to conduct research analysis.

Protecting the Data

The security and protection of the data held within is ensured through its tightly controlled, robust, proportionate Privacy by Design methodology that is regulated by a team of specialists and overseen by an independent Information Governance Review Panel. The SAIL Databank does not receive or handle identifiable data. The commonly-recognised identifying details are removed before datasets come to the SAIL Databank, and so the SAIL Databank cannot reconstruct the identifiable datasets.


The SAIL Databank is now powered by the UK Secure e-Research Platform (UKSeRP), developed by the Health Informatics Group at Swansea University, with support from the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research funded by Medical Research Council.

UKSeRP, is a high powered data management and sharing technology, is infinitely scalable to suit a range of use cases including imaging, genomics and analysis of free text. It benefits from carefully designed Information Governance to ensure person-based data with high privacy risk is managed to the highest standards, and is ISO 27001 certified.

The SAIL Databank, like an increasing number of large scaled research programmes, now uses UKSeRP to provide controlled data access and High Performance Computing to hundreds of users across the world.

The Organisation

The SAIL Databank underpins various research studies that are conducted in the Health Informatics Group at Swansea University Medical School.

Building on the SAIL Databank, and increasing the focus on the international arena, The Farr Institute CIPHER, is Swansea University’s first multi-funder (led by the Medical Research Council) centre. One of four E-health Research UK Centres of Excellence (and closely networked to the partners in London, Manchester and Dundee), it brings together a collaboration across the UK with key involvement from NHS, Government and international partners.

The Research Councils UK commitment to these projects was further strengthened in 2013 by the announcement of an additional £20m capital investment in The Farr Institute of Health Informatics, a doubling of UK investment in this field, with one of the four Farr Institute Centres based at Swansea University Medical School with the Data Science building completed in 2016.

The Research Councils UK are again set to support our leading achievements in this area with the announcement of the Economic and Social Research Council investment in a UK Big Data Network – The Administrative Data Research Network (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), with a £8m Administrative Data Research Centre Wales led by Swansea University which allow our e-health and informatics expertise to expand to include social science and economic data.

A selection of the Health Informatics Group’s case studies can be found here.