Using the Simulacrum

Getting started

Here’s a step by step guide to using the Simulacrum.  Join our mailing list to keep up to date with new versions of the Simulacrum.

1. Download the Simulacrum

Download the Simulacrum and explore the data.

Learn about the Simulacrum data, and its limitations, in our ‘What’s in the Simulacrum’ section. You can analyse the Simulacrum using your preferred analytical package, but here are some SQL query examples.

2. Interpreting your results

Simulating multiple types of data while trying to protect patient confidentiality is a complex mathematical challenge.  The more complex your queries, the more approximate the Simulacrum is. 

Once you have refined your query using the Simulacrum, you can, if you wish, make a request to Public Health England to have your queries run on the real NCRAS data. See Public Health England’s ‘Guide to using the Simulacrum and submitting code’, here. The email address for submitting requests for data is

Public Health England can safely release aggregate and anonymous data, but if you want more you will need to make a formal request to the Office of Data Release (ODR).

3. Publishing results

You are welcome to publish your research from the Simulacrum. But by doing so you accept your published results are based on synthetic data, which has limitations. We recommend you check your results by making a request to PHE to run your queries on the real data.

Anyone publishing data with results obtained by using the Simulacrum should acknowledge its use. Please visit our acknowledgements page for more information.