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Emergency Response and Preparedness Call Specification



Stage 2 closing date: 08 January 2020

This National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) invites proposals for research to provide health and health services related learning from recent emergencies and Mass Casualty Incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire, Manchester Arena bombing and London Bridge and Borough Market terror attacks.

The completed Kerslake Review, and the ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry and London Bridge Inquests provide insight into these incidents and highlight the need for research to inform the planning, preparation and organisation of response to such emergencies by the appropriate services as well as other evidence users, such as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

The NIHR wishes to fund health and health services related research that will provide evidence to inform policy and practice in the short to medium term. Applicants must therefore demonstrate a clear pathway to influence and impact for their proposed research. Research proposals that do not meet this requirement are unlikely to be considered for funding.

This call covers the whole pathway of the emergency response, including planning, acute phase, definitive care and reconstruction, and the recovery phase. Physical and/or mental health and psychological aspects may be included, but applicants do not have to cover all phases and aspects in a single proposal for as long as the choice of phase is well justified. All services and agencies involved in this response, including the NHS, police, fire service, local authorities, health protection and the Environment Agency are of interest

Proposals are invited to address the following topics which are examples of potential areas of interest for health-related research and do not represent an exhaustive list. Other research questions in the remit of the participating NIHR funding programmes and relevant to this call will also be considered.

  • Governance and management of the responding services
  • Communications within and between services, and with affected individuals, communities and the wider public
  • Response of emergency services and variation in protocols
  • Organisation, education and training of the emergency response workforce and support for the workforce, for example in dealing with Mass Casualty Incidents.
  • How should organisations support senior leadership roles in the preparation for, recovery from and consequences of these events 
  • Organisation of, and impact on, physical and mental health services in the recovery phase 
  • Rapid learning and emergency preparedness
  • Responding to health issues and reducing the impact of potential environmental hazards
  • Multi service planning for emergencies
  • Immediate, short- and medium-term response to displaced communities
  • Mental health impacts for responders and affected communities
  • Relevant epidemiology studies where these can lead to clear action. Please note that mechanistic research, whilst important, may fall within the remit of UK Research and Innovation

Applicants do not have to cover all phases and aspects in a single proposal so long as the focus of the proposal is well justified. For all topics, addressed or proposed, consideration must be given to health inequalities and the needs and rights of less well-heard groups of the community.

For the purposes of this call, the definition of “emergency” is taken from the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 Part 1:
a) An event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the United Kingdom,
b) An event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment of a place in the United Kingdom, or
c) War, or terrorism, which threatens serious damage to the security of the United Kingdom.

How to apply

The deadline for Stage 2 applications for all participating funding programmes is 08 January 2020. Funding decisions are expected by the end of March 2020.

The Programmes involved in this call are:

 Applicants should note that:

  • Proposals for both primary and secondary research are welcome. Both retrospective and prospective research studies are in scope for this call. The inclusion of patient, service user, carer and public views and experiences are considered important by each participating programme.
  • Research proposals must be within the remit of at least one of the participating NIHR programmes. 
  • Applications must include detailed plans for the rapid dissemination of key learning points in order to support future responses. 
  • Proposals must be complementary to existing knowledge and any work underway which is in the public domain.
  • This call represents an ongoing area of interest for the NIHR and following this opportunity, the NIHR research programmes will still be interested in receiving applications in this area to their researcher-led workstreams, and in particular if there are any future events

Contact Information

General questions about the call should be addressed to your local RDS in the first instance or further guidance may be obtained from the most relevant funding programme by sending a short summary (max 1 A4 page) of their research proposal, in a structured format including rationale, research question, proposed methodology and outcome/evaluation methods to one of the following email addresses