What data does SAVSNET collect?

Data collected by SAVSNET is covered by the General Data Protection Regulations. Data comes from two sources, veterinary practices and diagnostic laboratories.

Veterinary practices: Data collected from veterinary practitioners includes postcodes. Occasionally the free text data we collect may include names, phone numbers or addresses. We are also aware that rare animal breeds may effectively constitute personal identifiers especially when linked to data such as animal age. Software tools are used to efficiently remove most of the inadvertent identifiers in the free text (we call this deidentification). All data is anonymised before sharing and any publications are entirely anonymised. Consent for receiving data from veterinary practitioners is a two-step process.  We only receive data from veterinary practices that have agreed to participate in SAVSNET.

Diagnostic laboratories: Data collected from diagnostic laboratories includes no owner data, only the post code of the submitting veterinary practice. Laboratories give consent for us to access these data.   

Why is collecting or processing these data necessary?

The collection and analyses of these data (“processing” in the language of GDPR) from vets and laboratories is necessary in order to understand the burdens, distribution and risk of disease to individual pet animals. The postcode is needed to look for hotspots of disease in different parts of the country such as outbreaks. Breed information allows us to explore which breeds are more disposed to which diseases. The free text is needed as it can be mined to identify what was wrong with the animal and how it was treated; this allows us to research all the important reasons why owners take their pets to see veterinary surgeons and nurses. Some of the diseases we study also affect humans and the results of studying these data can therefore also improve human health. Without these data, there is no other reasonable way to research animal health, especially at these large population levels, with the explicit aim of improving it.

Who might we share data with?

In addition to being used for research by the SAVSNET team, SAVSNET-approved researchers can apply for access to anonymised data for their own research purposes.  This can generate income, which is used for the sustainability of SAVSNET.  

What is the lawful basis for processing these data form vets and laboratories?

Under GDPR, it is necessary to define which of six “legal basis” justify data processing.  The lawful basis for processing these data in SAVSNET’s case is primarily that of LEGITIMATE INTEREST. Data is largely anonymised when collected and absolutely anonymised when shared or published. Processing these data allows us to improve the evidence base for diagnosis and treatment of disease in companion animals. It can also be used to provide early warning of outbreaks of disease thereby mitigating their impact. Both if these are in the legitimate interest of both owners, who attend veterinary practices to improve their animals’ health.

Who can I contact?

If you have any questions about how your personal information is used, or wish to exercise any of your rights, please contact SAVSNET on savsnet@liverpool.ac.uk

Can I remove my data?

Veterinary practices and owners can request their data be removed from the SAVSNET database. Just contact us at savsnet@liverpool.ac.uk

How do I complain?

If you are unhappy with any aspect of this project, please contact us by phone, email or post and we will try to help. 

If you remain unhappy, or have a complaint which you feel you cannot come to us with, then you should contact the Research Governance Office directly on 0151 794 8290 (ethics@liv.ac.uk) stating the name of the project (SAVSNET), and the details of the complaint you wish to make.

If you are not happy with the way your information is being handled, or with the response received from us, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF (https://ico.org.uk/).