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HTA Funding Committee Chair vacancy - applicant guidance notes



Person Specification

Post:  Chair for an HTA Funding Committee

Accountable to: HTA Programme Director

Time Commitment: 1.5 days per week

Salary: Honorarium of £30k per annum to employing institution.

Tenure: 3 years in the first instance.

Proposed Start date: 1st October 2020


Job Description

Title: Chair, HTA Funding Committee 

Accountable to: HTA Programme Director


Knowledge, qualities and skills 
Knowledge and experience of health technology assessment Essential
Knowledge of health and social care service delivery  Essential
Ability to communicate efficiently and effectively  Essential
Confident negotiation skills  Essential
Discretion in the handling of confidential information  Essential
Evidence of supporting and working effectively with patients and the public  Essential
Proven chair experience of large committees  Essential
Proven track record of outstanding research achievements and senior leadership  Essential
Knowledge of current developments of R&D in the NHS , social care and public health including research methods  Essential
Higher degree Essential
NIHR Senior Investigator Desirable


Background information

The NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme commissions research to produce independent information about the effectiveness, costs and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care in the NHS. It works alongside the other research evaluation programmes of the NIHR.

The HTA programme is committed to ensuring the appropriate involvement of the public throughout its processes and activities.  Public involvement helps to ensure that we assess funding proposals according to patient need, offers a broader and more relevant perspective on research proposals, as well as increasing the range of knowledge and insight on our committees.

The HTA programme funds research in three ways, through a commissioned stream, a researcher-initiated stream, and through a call-off contract with research teams to undertake Technology Assessment Reports (TARs) for NICE (the TARs work is outside the scope of this post).


How the programme funds research

The granting of research funds is a competitive process. The HTA Commissioning, General, and HTA Clinical Evaluation and Trials (HTA CET) Committees, are advisory funding committees (~25 participants each). While the Commissioning Committee largely deals with the commissioned stream of work and the CET Committee with researcher led stream, the General Committee considers applications under both streams as well as proposals submitted for themed calls and for evidence synthesis.

Each committee meet three times a year, usually for two days per meeting, to assess the scientific merit of the proposals received, and to make funding recommendations to the HTA Programme Oversight Committee (POC). POC reviews and agrees the final ranked list of funding recommendations made to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Final funding decisions are formally approved by the DHSC.


Commissioned stream

The HTA Programme invites proposals on specific questions about health technologies that have been prioritised by the programme. An invitation for proposals is advertised across several media including the NIHR website. Standard documentation is provided, along with a commissioning brief for the topic in question. Proposals undergo a two-stage assessment process.

The granting of research funds is a competitive process. All proposals are assessed by three committee members.  The proposal assessment criteria are:

  • Does the proposal clearly address the issues outlined in the commissioning brief?
  • Would successful completion of the project lead to a reduction in uncertainty?
  • Would this result in measurable health gains and/or benefits for patients and the NHS?
  • Is the team capable of undertaking the project?
  • Do the requested costs represent good value for money?
  • Are the proposed time scales realistic?
  • Are the objectives of the research clearly stated?
  • Is the study designed to achieve its objectives in an appropriate, feasible and ethical manner?

For commissioned primary research topics, a maximum of three applications are shortlisted and invited to submit a second stage proposal. This is to avoid putting a high burden on the peer reviewers and applicants.

All stage two proposals are peer-reviewed by referee’s external to the HTA Programme. The proposals and referee’s comments are considered in detail by three designated committee members who present the proposals and initiate discussions at the funding committee meeting.

The HTA Funding Committee’s assess the scientific merit of the project, provide a score against the funding criteria and make a funding recommendation.


Researcher-led stream

HTA researcher-led work stream has ongoing open calls with three close dates per year inviting two stage proposals for primary research or evidence synthesis research. Unlike the commissioned work stream prioritisation of the research proposals is embedded within the funding committee assessment.  Stage one researcher led applications are reviewed by the HTA Programme Remit and Competitiveness Group, and those proposals deemed in remit and competitive then progress to a HTA Funding Committee for assessment of need and importance of the question to patients and the NHS, in addition to scientific quality and value for money.

The principal difference from the commissioned work stream is that proposals are not assessed against a commissioning brief, and each is assessed on its own merits, since there is no competing proposal on the same topic. All researcher-led first stage proposals are subject to 12-month resubmission checks and internal NETSCC portfolio overlap checks.

All Funding Committee Chairs are members of the Remit and Competitiveness group which assess the remit and competitiveness of all stage one proposals and select those meeting the criteria to go to the Funding Committee.


NIHR Themed calls

A second researcher-initiated funding stream is Themed Calls. In this instance, the NIHR identifies and defines a broad clinical or technology area, and all programmes within the NIHR invite proposals to undertake research on a topic of the researchers’ choosing within this. Researchers are currently able to submit proposals for primary research or evidence synthesis to a themed call. A themed call is usually issued annually, and proposals are assessed in a similar way to researcher-led applications.


Funding recommendations

First stage proposals can be shortlisted to full proposal, rejected or invited to resubmit.

The HTA Funding Committee’s make the following recommendations for second stage applications:

  • Fund
  • Fund with changes
  • Reject
  • Resubmission

Feedback is provided to applicants on the proposals after each assessment stage. For stage two proposals the ‘open’ comments of external referees as well as that of the Committee is shared with the lead applicants.

The HTA Funding Committee’s recommendations are reviewed by the HTA Programme Oversight Committee (POC) which agrees a final ranked list of proposals for funding. These are sent to (DHSC to formally approve funding recommendations and make the final funding decisions. Applicants are notified once final decisions have been approved by DHSC.

POC currently consists of the HTA Programme Director, the Chair of the HTA Commissioning, General and Clinical Evaluation and Trials Funding Committee’s, two Prioritisation Panel Chairs, and NETSCC, HTA representatives.


Job Summary

As Chair of an HTA Funding Committee, you will play a role in developing the work of HTA programme through the contract-awarding process (with responsibility for commissioning a portfolio of research with a current budget of £76 million), several HTA strategy groups, and a role in monitoring funded research projects.

The funding committee is managed by the secretariat who provide all the necessary support to the Chair to facilitate their role.

You will be sent papers in advance of your Funding Committee meetings and will be expected to have read all proposals for consideration.  You will be expected to Chair the overall meeting, and work with your Deputy to ensure that all items are sufficiently discussed so that a consensus is reached as to the outcome for each proposal according to the criteria for assessment (an electronic voting system is used when assessing Stage two proposals).  You will also support the Funding Committee in agreeing feedback to applicants.  Following the Funding Committee meeting you will be expected to sign off minutes of the meeting, consider any modifications to proposals made in light of referees’ and Funding Committee’s collective comments ensuring that the Funding Committee’s requirements have been met.  A secretariat team at NETSCC will support you with this and all aspects of your role.

In the past all funding committee meetings were held as face to face meetings in London. Currently all meetings are being held remotely. The impact of this will be assessed and it is anticipated that a mixed model of face to face and virtual meetings may be introduced in the future.

In addition to your role with the Funding Committee, there are other responsibilities associated with the Chair posts.  You will be expected to attend the HTA Programme Oversight Committee (POC) meetings (currently nine per year).  These are usually three one-day meetings that are held face-to-face and one to two-hour teleconferences (six meetings).  In addition, the HTA Funding Committee Policy Group meets three times a year for two to three hours by teleconference, to consider and advise the Programme Director on the ways in which the commissioning and funding committee process is conducted.  Programme Directors and Chairs meetings are strategic one day meetings held face to face twice a year, with two further teleconferences (2-3 hour). The Programme Liaison Group meetings are teleconferences for two hours up to six times a year to provide programme related advice. As a Funding Committee Chair you would be expected to play a central role in all these groups.

The HTA programme undertakes an active monitoring process with funded projects, and the Chairs are expected to participate in this activity and attend selected meetings with project researchers, normally organised in London.

Finally, you may also be required to respond to additional ad-hoc requests for advice and support from the HTA Programme Director, or the Science, Research and Evidence Directorate of the Department of Health and Social Care, and to represent the HTA programme at other events.  There will be an expectation that Funding Committee Chairs may rotate in the latter part of their tenure.


Conditions of service

Honorarium:  Reimbursement of £30k per annum to institution.

The Health Technology Assessment programme is managed by NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) based within the Wessex Institute, the University of Southampton.


Application Process

For informal discussions about the role prior to application please contact the secretariat: Karen Williams, Senior Research Manager, HTA Programme, NETSCC, Beta House, Enterprise Road, Southampton SO16 7NS. Email:

You may also wish to discuss the role with the Programme Director, Professor Hywel Williams:

Please submit a full CV and supporting letter by the 31st July. Applications should be submitted by email to Karen Williams at:

Applications will be assessed by a shortlisting panel against the essential criteria in mid-August and shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview on the 9th September. It is anticipated that interviews will take place remotely. The successful applicant will be invited to attend the CET Funding Committee meeting on the 3rd & 4th November 2020 to observe and will also be expected to attend the General Funding Committee meeting on the 10th & 11th November 2020.