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HS&DR supporting document for call for production of rapid reviews and evidence syntheses - expression of interest 19/98



Supporting document

Closing date: 05 September 2019

It is likely the programme will eventually contract at least two teams. The contract will be awarded for a maximum of four years and maximum value of £600,000 (For HEIs, up to 80% of FEC will be paid - up to £600,000), for the whole contract, with an annual review point to ensure contractual compliance. 

Please note the guidance sets out maximum expectations and the final tally of reviews delivered over the lifetime of the contract will be determined by the size of each individual review requested during the contract.

This is a call for expressions of interest and the HS&DR programme welcomes a variety of team models to apply. Demonstration as to how potential applicant teams fulfil the items listed in the call specification is the primary purpose of this stage. Applicants invited to complete a stage 2 application will have an opportunity to set out their views as to how many and what type of reviews could be delivered within the stated resource envelope. We would like to encourage teams building the capacity and knowledge in this area to apply. 

The contractors will be required to work with:

  • The HS&DR Programme Director
  • NETSCC and other NETS programmes
  • Other academic groups involved in delivering a similar contract.

Applicants will need to have experience in this type of work and be able to demonstrate methodological expertise and a track record in delivering reviews to time and agreed cost. The programme accepts that content expertise is likely to have to be brought in for particular reviews and this cost will have to be absorbed by the contract.

Successful contractors will help develop thinking in terms of methodological approaches during the course of the contract, which will inform the wider research community.


The HS&DR Programme funds research to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of health and social care services, including evaluations of how health and social care providers might improve delivery of services. The audience for this research is the public, service users, clinicians and managers. The main focus of outputs from contracts let under this call is identifying key findings for the full breadth of the programme’s evidence users. The reviews will also help the HS&DR programme in scoping complex areas and identifying areas where further research is needed.

The HS&DR programme will specify the topics of reviews to be undertaken - in the main these will have come through the programme’s topic identification work with stakeholders and research users; the review team will be expected to scope out the detail of the review including the methods to be used and resources required in terms of full time equivalents.

Final resource requirements and time needed for the individual reviews will be negotiated with the HS&DR programme secretariat at NETSCC with reference to the Programme Director is appropriate. Should any fieldwork be required this will be negotiated with the team at the outset of the synthesis. The timetables to which reports must be delivered will vary and may be tight.

Reviews may be required in relation to any topic within the remit of the programme.  The following broad themes give an indication of some of the main areas of interest:

  • Workforce
  • Patient experience
  • Equity and access
  • Integration and services for people with longterm conditions
  • New models of care/service redesign
  • Quality and safety of services
  • Management, leadership and efficiency
  • Use of technology, innovation and telehealth

For information on outputs from the current and previous contracts, please go to: 

HS&DR evidence synthesis centre Elisabeth Goyder, Sheffield (started March 2014)

HS&DR evidence synthesis centre Alison Eastwood, York (started March 2014)

HS&DR evidence synthesis centre Andrew Booth (started March 2017)

HS&DR evidence synthesis centre Alison Eastwood (started March 2017)

HS&DR evidence synthesis centre Rob Anderson (started April 2017)

Based on the programme’s previous experience, contractors will be expected to deliver between two and four reviews each year, although this will very much be dependent on the type of review requested Teams will need to be very flexible in their workplans and be able to change the focus of their work at short notice, in-year to respond to urgent service needs..   The contract will state the total length of the contract, and the total amount of the contract’s value. 

Commissioning and monitoring, editorial review and publication will be managed by the programme secretariat. 

Assessment process and timetable

All EOI submissions will receive feedback and a number (likely maximum of six) will be invited to complete a stage 2 application form online to be considered by the HS&DR funding committee. The funding committee  will wish to meet the applicants and the HS&DR secretariat will coordinate attendance of 2-3 members of the applicant teams in London. It is likely this will be in mid/late February 2020. In addition to the criteria set out in the call document, assessment will be looking to see that teams have:

  • Understood the need for an appropriate mix of staff
  • Understood and acknowledged that the primary outputs of the contract will be rapid reviews of immediate use to the customer for research
  • A track record in producing evidence syntheses and reviews on a diverse range of topics and methodologies across the qualitative and quantitative research spectrum

Successful applicants will be those who have best demonstrated an understanding of the service requirement and the ability to meet the specified criteria.


In commissioning a centre or group with critical mass of reviewers, we would expect there to be efficiencies in activity. We will be commissioning for expertise in reviewing complex literature and in general knowledge of health service research and management topics. Subject experts may need to be co-opted for particular topics. As part of the scoping of individual syntheses, the contractor will have to demonstrate that the need for additional specific expertise has been considered.

Likely minimum staffing requirements for a successful team are:

  • A Director who will take overall responsibility for the quality assurance and timely delivery of report and who has authority to re-deploy resources
  • Dedicated senior staff time: to supervise, take responsibility for and quality assure each report; and be available to discuss key issues with members of the secretariat at NETSCC
  • Scientific staff skilled in review methods, health economics and modelling.
  • Access to appropriate levels of content expertise
  • Senior project management/scientific administrator expertise

Project teams will be required to provide administrative support to all systems and structures used for the execution of the reviews and should employ an appropriate senior project manager to oversee the programme of work.

Each rapid review will require a detailed project timetable with milestones. As part of scoping an individual review, the contractor will be asked to detail the project management arrangements in order to ensure quality and timeliness of delivery.

Contract management and monitoring

Contractors will have a designated research manager at the NETSCC secretariat and the contract will monitored with agreed minimum reporting points and review points as well as an annual financial reconciliation. These will be research contracts with a fixed end date. The purpose of the monitoring is to enable discussion on the current and future work under the contract and on any difficulties that may arise in the operation of the contract. 

Draft reports for each review will be submitted to the secretariat and taken through a rapid editorial process for publication in the NIHR Journals Library