In 2020, collaboration and community meant more than ever. And the response to the pandemic highlighted the value of analysis. We needed open and transparent analysis and we wanted to find the ways to share statistical models across the UK and health and social care sector.

So NHS-R Community is looking back and reflecting on how we spent this challenging year.

In February, we started a series of monthly webinars. Little did we know that the world would become fully digital in less than a month. Our webinars focused on fundamental R skills: functional programming, connecting to databases, forecasting and so much more. But mentioning COVID-19 was unavoidable, and in April, Richard Wood and his team at Bristol and North Somerset CCG presented their Covid-19 Modelling.

Our training moved online. We held ten webinars in 2020, attended by hundreds of guests, covering topics from Introduction to R, to Building R packages and Advanced modelling. We run two virtual trainings – Forecasting in R and Introduction to R. We would like to send out our thanks to everyone who presented a webinar (if only we could minimise the amount of time we spent asking ‘Can you hear me?’)

We have started our slack workspace. It’s a friendly place to collaborate and everybody is welcome to join us. We have dedicated spaces to ask R questions, discuss new packages or have a conversation about other open-source software such as python. We have reached 700 participants and we have representatives from various NHS, government, private and academia organisations.

NHS-R Community was featured in the ‘Bringing NHS data analysis into the 21st century’ paper as the example of ‘good practice’ of an analytical community. The authors, including NHS-R’s Mohammed A Mohammed, encourage everyone to use open tools and make outstanding analytics re-usable. Mohammed also wrote a blog for us detailing how the NHS-R community came about. Peter Spilsbury, Director of The Strategy Unit, also wrote about the importance of openness in using data, which can be seen here. No more black boxes in healthcare analysis!

We were privileged to present at the R Medicine conference – a big international event with more than 600 attendees. It was an August highlight for the R world. It was an honour to present about our community straight after hearing the keynote session by Professor Ewen Harrison. We spoke about the power of community, its ethics and management. Our full presentation can be found here.

Our amazing and enthusiastic community started a book club! We have finished reading ‘Art of Statistics’. The book club was even mentioned in the Big Book of R.

Autumn brought us an exciting new partnership - Hexitime. Hexitime is the first and currently only national timebank in health and social care and has won multiple awards for innovating in this space. To end 2020, Hexitime receive the fantastic news that it has been shortlisted as a finalist for the HSJ Partnership Awards 2021.

And, of course, we could not avoid mentioning our own NHS-R Community Conference 2020. This year, it was a weeklong online event with speakers from all over the world. More than 1,000 people from 39 countries attended (either watching live or rewatching later) and more than 60 speakers presented. We have also organised 15 workshops throughout November.

This success would not be possible without support of our partners: RStudio, Mango, AphA and Jumping Rivers. And, of course, we were grateful to have such an amazing and involved participants who found time to spend the conference week with us.

So what next for NHS-R Community?

If you have any projects that you would be keen to share with the community, we would invite you to write a blog for our website, run a webinar, write a profile for AphA magazine, or set up a skill exchange on the Hexitime platform.

As always, if you want to stay in touch or help us become better – just drop us a message. We would love to hear from you at

As 2020 came to an end we, as the rest of the world, are looking to 2021 with hope. The future will be bRight!