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22/126 HSDR Rapid Service Evaluation Team Specification Document


Published: 26 August 2022

Version: 1.3 - September 2022

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Call for Expressions of Interest (EoI): Rapid Service Evaluation Research Team
Closing date: 1pm on 10 November 2022

The NHS Five Year Forward View’s push for ‘accelerating innovation in new ways of delivering care’ lies at the heart of this call, especially in response to the development of what the document calls ‘combinatorial innovation’ and the need to develop methods to promote a rigorous way of answering questions as to the validity, sustainability and potential for roll out of service redesign, so that learning and innovation, shown to work across a health pathway or health economy, can be taken up quickly in other parts of the health system. The call also reflects the intention of the NIHR to answer the needs of decision-makers and members of the public set out in Best Research for Best Health: The Next Chapter

The Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme wishes to commission up to two research teams to produce, in partnership with colleagues working in health and care services, proportionate alongside, real time evaluations of innovations and development in health and care services, which will generate evidence of national relevance. This evidence should be of immediate use to decision-makers in order to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of the NHS including delivery of services.

The purpose of this call for expressions of interest is to identify suitable applicant teams able to undertake this type of evaluation. The commissioned teams will have demonstrable networks into the health and care frontline enabling them to produce learning that could be transferable to the whole of health and care in the UK.  This reach into services might also elicit topics for evaluation.  The commissioned teams would have to make the case as to the value of the particular research to the HSDR Programme.

Within this call for applied research, whilst methodological development is not the primary intent of the call, the HSDR programme is interested in pushing the methodological boundaries of health and social care services research. We would view this as a by-product of evaluation work.

Teams expressing an interest should demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Expertise in evaluation of health and care services organisation and delivery
  • A track record in:
    o carrying out research in collaboration with evidence users
    o partnership-working with the health and care frontline, and have
    o well established expertise in co-production methods of research and in formative ways of working
  • Evidence of access to networks of evidence users who are innovating in health and care services, experts in various health service delivery and organisational disciplines (content expertise)
  • Familiarity with service issues is essential, as well as a deep understanding of the tensions and sensitivities which might arise when evaluating new initiatives in health and care in real time
  • Ability to undertake evaluations that meet the needs of the “customer”, i.e., the NHS
  • Novel approaches to getting fast uptake in services of research findings
  • Explain their understanding of service innovation.


This call complements, not duplicates the scope and work of the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARCs), the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and The Health Foundation. Applicants should work through a UK lens when looking at a specific service innovation, and outputs will include considerations of scalability as well as longevity of learning.

Co-production and highly participatory research methods, which close the gap between what the public wants in the way of health and care services, and the need to make sure that what it wants is delivered to the highest standards, will be required. Mechanisms of rapid knowledge transfer into practice will have to be considered and demonstrated by applicant teams. The HSDR is not specifying the deployment model applicants might wish to put forward. However, the programme is interested in seeing deep partnership working including commissioners.

Outputs from a contract let under this call will be evaluations, using novel methods, of local and regional service developments and innovations for immediate national learning1. The focus of evaluations will be identified by the HSDR programme.

Advancements in methodology will be a by-product of this call and applicants will need to show they have expertise in developing the health and care services research environment including ways of getting knowledge to move quickly into and across the NHS.

In commissioning a team with a critical mass of evaluators, we would expect there to be efficiencies in activity: the value of the contract(s) is likely to be £3m over five years outputting at least two evaluations a year, depending on the scope of each evaluation to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Assessment process and timetable

Please ensure you have read the supporting document and expression of interest application guidance notes provided to support this call.

Expressions of interest will be considered by the programme director and a number of teams will be invited to submit a stage two application form to the HSDR funding committee. Two to three representatives from each team submitting an application form are likely to be invited to interview by the committee.

Expressions of interest must include:

  • Consideration of the criteria set out in this call
  • A statement of the general approach to be adopted
  • A description of the centre or team; its overall capacity and ability to recruit/supervise/direct resources as needed
  • A description of the team’s networks and partnerships
  • Brief CVs of the likely lead applicant and two other likely to be named as co- applicants should a stage two application be invited. The roles of these individuals and their level of input must also be stated
  • Arrangements for project management of the work and contract
  • Details of the resources required to undertake the work over the life of the contract

The on-line expression of interest application form should be completed and submitted by 1.00pm on 10 November 2022.

Probity and handling conflicts of interest

  • A competing interest will include any financial or other relationship with, or interest in, an intervention or service to be evaluated.
  • Any competing interests will be adjudged against individual evaluations within the contract.
  • Any possible conflict of interest arising should be declared to the HS&DR Programme at the time of scoping the evaluation.

Transparency agenda

In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the public.