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NIHR-NHSE/I Academic Health Science Centres - Frequently Asked Questions

 

Contents

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

This note provides the answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relating to the National Institute for Health Research NHS England and NHS Improvement Academic Health Science Centres (AHSC) competition, and is intended to supplement the guidance document ‘AHSC- Application Guidance’. 

These FAQs will be updated when significant new questions/queries are submitted, so applicants are advised to check the NIHR website frequently for the latest version (as indicated by the date and version number). 

 1. How many NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC will be designated? 

The number of NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs to be designated has not been determined in advance and will be determined by the quality of the applications. The designation of NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs will be made only to those NHS organisations / university partnerships which meet the published designation criteria.

2. Will designated partnerships be supported by additional central funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and/or NHS England and NHS Improvement? 

Designation will not attract specific AHSC funding from the Department of Health and Social Care, the National Institute for Health Research or NHS England and NHS Improvement.

3. What will the geographical coverage of designated AHSCs across England be? 

The designation of NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs will be made only to those partnerships which meet the criteria and it is not the intention that together the designated NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs will necessarily provide full national geographical coverage. The location of NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs designated will be decided solely on the quality of the partnership’s application.
 
4. Are NHS / university partnerships in the Devolved Administrations eligible to apply for NIHR-NHSE/I designation? 

No – The designation is for NHS organisation / university partnership in England.

5. Can NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs include an international perspective? 

Designated NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs will be elite partnerships which could be expected to have international links or collaborations. It will be for the application to make the case for how these international links/collaborations and international work help to achieve the core aims of the NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs to improve health and healthcare delivery both locally and across the wider NHS through the tripartite mission of health research, health education and excellence in patient care. 

6. Can Public Health and/or Social Care be included within the focus of NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs? 

Public Health and Social Care are important elements in improving population health and patient outcomes. Councils and local authorities may be included as partners to the proposed AHSC. Applications will need to demonstrate to the Designation Committee that the proposed partnership is of appropriate size and comprises the appropriate number of organisations to facilitate the close working which will be essential to deliver the aims of an NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC.

7. Can we provide information on NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs working together to add value? 

Yes, applicants can include details of current and planned joint working between the partnership applying for NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs designation and other existing DHSC-AHSCs or future NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs.  This should also include how the proposed NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC intends to work with other NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs to improve outcomes for patients and the NHS.

8. Why is there no specific section dedicated to Health Education, Research and Patient Care in the application form? 

The full application form does not provide specific dedicated sections on any of the three domains of excellence required for NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs (research, health education or patient care).  The independent Designation Committee will consider a range of published metrics relating to excellence in research, health education and patient care, and on the basis of these metrics will make recommendations to DHSC and NHS E/I on which applying partnerships best meet the three designation criteria of excellence in research, patient care and health education. 

Detail of the published metrics that will be considered by the independent Designation Committee is provided in Annex 1 of the competition guidance document.  If the applying partnership considers that these metrics, including the proposed bibliometric data, do not adequately reflect the strength of their current position against any of the excellence in research, patient care and health education designation criteria, then they may provide additional information within their application form to justify this, and this will be considered by the independent Designation Committee.  

9. Who is on the Designation Committee, is there any continuity from the second Department of Health AHSC Designation Panel, and will the Committee membership be published?

The NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC Designation Committee comprises a range of eminent individuals with a breadth of experience relevant to NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs. The Committee is international, and the membership will be published ahead of the full stage committee meeting. 

10. Can any supplementary information be submitted as part of the Full Application?
Applicant partnerships should only submit the full application form together with the uploaded organogram and any additional information or diagrams to support question 3. It is not permissible to submit any other information and any additional information submitted will not be provided to the Designation Committee.  

11. Are we able to submit formal letters of support from partner organisations?

No, letters of support are not required for this application process. NIHR-CCF may seek letters of support from the individual partners comprising successfully designated NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs.

12. Can we include links to webpages in our online application form?

No. The Designation Committee will only consider the information provided in the full application or during the interview of shortlisted applicants. You should ensure your application is stand-alone and contains sufficient detail as the Committee will not refer to additional information published online in making their recommendations.

13. If we submit early and realise that something needs to be added what can we do?

If you submit an application before the closing date and want to add something to the application, you may contact ccf-infrastructure-team@nihr.ac.uk , who will make arrangements for the application’s status to be rolled back to pre-submission which makes the application form available to you to edit again. We recommend that this request is not made on the day of the deadline.

14. How will applications from those partnerships currently designated as DHSC-AHSCs be reviewed alongside new partnerships?

This is a new, open competition. All applications will be reviewed by the independent Designation Committee using the published metrics on research, health education and patient care. For shortlisted applicants, the independent Designation Committee will review the information provided in the application form, together with the information provided during the interview, to make an assessment and recommendations to the DHSC and NHSE/I on which NHS organisation / university partnerships should be designated AHSCs, based on the designation criteria.

15. Since every application is considered separately, what is the balance between independence and collaboration with other potential AHSCs? 

 It is important that an application is not dependent on the success of another application. Therefore, each application must be able to stand-alone. Since collaboration with other potential NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs is encouraged, it is important that applications adequately demonstrate how any formal collaborations will be effective and add value to the proposed AHSC.

16. How many representatives of the NHS organisation / university partnership will be permitted to attend the interview? 

For those applicant partnerships shortlisted, up to 6 individuals from the partnership will be able to attend, including the partnership’s named application lead and senior representatives from among the partnership’s constituent NHS organisation / university organisations. The partnership should decide who will attend the interview and inform NIHR Central Commissioning Facility once they have been invited as a shortlisted applicant. 

17. When the Designation criteria refers to track record, does this mean track record of one organisation in the partnership or the track record of the proposed AHSC partnership?  

Given that the NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC will be a partnership, the track record of the partnership is the most important element. However, the relevant experience of the individual organisations making up the proposed AHSC partnership will also be a factor. 

18. Is there an expectation that the partners of the proposed NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC will need to form a legal entity? 

Not necessarily. It will be up to applicants to best demonstrate to the Designation Committee the strength and appropriateness of the proposed governance arrangements and model for the proposed NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC. The expectation is that the governance structure of the NHS organisation / university partnership would be well established and would be able to demonstrate evidence of the functionality and effectiveness. It is also expected that the partnership will have a clear process for monitoring the effectiveness of the governance arrangements throughout the designation period. 

19. Will the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement provide feedback to applicants?  

Written feedback will be provided to all applicants, including any specific Designation Committee recommendations for designated NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs. 

20. Will the Department publish details of the shortlisted partnerships?  

Information provided by applicants at the application stage will be in confidence. The Department of Health and Social Care will of course publish the names of the successful NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs.

 

Post-designation 

21. How will the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement monitor the progress of designated NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs?  

Each recipient of NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs designation will be required to submit to the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility a brief Annual Report documenting progress in the previous financial year. This annual report will be reviewed by NIHR CCF, NHSE/I and the Accelerated Access Collaborative and comments will be provided to the AHSC as necessary. Successful NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs will also be expected to publish their application form and their annual reports. 

22. When will applicant partnerships be informed about whether or not they have been successful in being designated as an NIHR-NHSE/I AHSCs? 

Applicant partnerships will be informed about whether or not they have been shortlisted in early February 2020. Those shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview with the Designation Committee which will take place between 25 - 26 February 2020. We expect that the successful NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC partnerships will be announced in March 2020. 

23. What will happen if an existing AHSC is not designated as AHSC in this new open competition? 

Should an existing DHSC-AHSC be unsuccessful in this designation, after 31 March 2020 they will no longer be able to describe the NHS organisation / university partnership as a DHSC-designated AHSC or an NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC. 
   

General Enquiries 

24. Can councils and other local authorities be named as partner organisations in the proposed AHSC?

Public Health and Social Care are important elements in improving population health and patient outcomes. Councils and local authorities may be included as partners to the proposed AHSC. Applications will need to demonstrate to the Designation Committee that the proposed partnership is of appropriate size and comprises the appropriate number of organisations to facilitate the close working which will be essential to deliver the aims of an NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC.

25. Can proposed AHSC partners (HEIs or NHS organisations) be partners in more than one AHSC application? 

We welcome collaboration and therefore HEIs and NHS organisations from one proposed AHSC can collaborate with other AHSCs.  However, HEIs and NHS organisations should be formal partners with only one single NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC application.

26. Please could you confirm that the metrics referred to in Annex 1 of the AHSC Competition guidance document will be provided to the Independent Designation Committee by NIHR-NHS E/I?  In other words, can you verify that the applying partnership is not expected to provide this information as part of the application form? 

Yes, the NIHR-Central Commissioning Facility will provide the metrics referred to in Annex 1 of the competition guidance directly to the independent Designation Committee.  Each applying partnership has the opportunity to provide additional information if they believe that the metrics provided to the Committee do not reflect the true status of the partnership’s excellence in research, patient care and/or health education.  

27. Will the details of individual metrics that are to be provided to the Committee be shared with potential applicants? 

No, the metrics which are described in Annex 1 of the competition guidance and which will be provided to the designation Committee will not be provided to applicants with the exception of the bibliometrics analysis which is currently available on the competition website.

However, the individual metrics listed in Annex 1 of the competition guidance are all available from the source websites enabling potential applicants to access the information which will be provided to the designation committee by the NIHR-CCF.

28. With respect to the metrics that will be provided to the Designation Committee, the REF2014 covers all areas of academic endeavour, will all of these be provided to the Committee or just the metrics related to biological sciences and health related disciplines? Similarly with the published RAND report, will the top universities and NHS partners for all disciplines be provided or just the priority areas highlighted in the report?

Further to FAQ 27, the REF2014 analysis will be based on the following REF Units of Assessment: 

- Allied Health Professions, dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy;

- Biological Sciences;

- Clinical Medicine;

- Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience;

- Social Work and Social Policy;

- Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care;

- Chemistry

- Physics;

- Mathematical Sciences

- Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

- Economics and Econometrics;

- Sociology;

- Agriculture, Vetinary and Food Science;

- General Engineering;

- Architecture, Built Environment and Planning;

- Business and Management Studies;

- Education;

- Computer Science and Informatics;

- Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials;

- Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering; 

The RAND Europe report, which is linked to via the NIHR website, will be provided to the Designation Committee as published and both the data relating to all disciplines and the priority highlight areas will be available to the Panel to be used in their assessment. 

If the applying partnership considers that these metrics, including the proposed bibliometric data, do not adequately reflect the strength of their current position against any of the excellence in research, patient care and health education designation criteria, then they may provide additional information within their application form to justify this, and this will be considered by the independent Designation Committee.

29. Does the potential applicant have to give notification of their intention to submit? 

No - there is no requirement for applicants to notify NIHR or NHSE/I of their intention to submit an application. However applicants are encouraged to populate, confirm and approve their application as early as possible ahead of the competition closure to ensure time for any technical queries that may arise during submission to be resolved ahead of the deadline. 

30. How many partners are allowed in a single AHSC application?

The number of partners within a single AHSC has not been determined in advance. However, applications will need to demonstrate to the Designation Committee that the proposed partnership is of an appropriate size; that it has appropriate governance arrangements; and that each of the partners, and the partnership as a whole, is able to meet the published selection criteria and can support the delivery of the aims of the NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC.

31. Who will be the main contact for each AHSC application - will it be the Director or the nominated Administrative contact?

The Director of the proposed AHSC will be the main point of contact. Whilst the application form does not specifically ask for the email address of the proposed Director, the email address should already be stored in the Research Management System (RMS). Before submitting your application, please do ensure that the email address of the proposed Director of the AHSC is correct and up to date in the 'Manage My Details' section of the RMS. The administrative contact is provided as a secondary point of contact.

32. The guidance states that AHSCs should be nested within their local Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). What are the specific expectations around the interaction between individual AHSNs and AHSCs?

Each NIHR-NHSE/I AHSC partnership is expected to be nested within and work with their local AHSN. The Designation Committee will assess the strength of the strategic plan for the proposed AHSC including the strength and extent of the relationship with the local AHSN(s) in order to support the delivery of aims of the AHSCs, the NHS Long Term Plan, the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and the goals of the Accelerated Access Collaborative