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Health Services and Delivery Research

The Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence to improve the quality, accessibility and organisation of health and social care services.

The Health Services and Delivery Research Programme is funded by the NIHR with specific contributions from the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

We support many types of research, including primary research and evidence synthesis.

We are particularly keen to support ambitious evaluative research to improve health and social care services. Our research serves a variety of key stakeholders including: NHS managers, Clinical Research Networks (CRNs), clinicians, professionals and researchers, service users and carers, and the public.

All of our funded projects are eligible for publication in the NIHR Journals Library. This open access resource is freely available online, and provides a full and permanent record of NIHR-funded research.

The Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme funds research to produce evidence to impact on the quality, accessibility and organisation of health and social care services. This includes evaluations of how the NHS  and social care might improve delivery of services.

The audience for this research is the public, service users, clinicians, professionals and managers. The programme has two workstreams: researcher-led and commissioned.

The HS&DR Programme aims to support a range of types of research including evidence synthesis and primary research. This includes large scale studies of national importance. This means primary research projects which:

  • address an issue of major strategic importance to the NHS and social care, with the cost in line with the significance of the problem to be investigated
  • are likely to lead to changes in practice that will have a significant impact on a large number of patients across the UK
  • aim to fill a clear ‘evidence gap’, and are likely to generate new knowledge of direct relevance to the NHS and social care
  • have the potential for findings to be applied to other conditions or situations outside the immediate area of research
  • bring together a team with strong expertise and track record across the full range of relevant disciplines
  • will be carried out across more than one research site

The HS&DR Programme will support:

  • research into any aspect of health and social care service quality, accessibility and effectiveness, as long as its importance to the NHS and social care can be clearly demonstrated
  • any methodology as long as it is appropriate, proportionate and likely to answer the research questions – which must relate to health service and social care issues
  • trials, pilot and feasibility studies on relevant topics, with the involvement of a Clinical Trials Unit if required. In the case of a trial, adequate preparatory work must be completed in order to justify need and feasibility

The HS&DR Programme will not support:

  • research for which there is not a strong and well demonstrated case for importance to the NHS/ social care
  • research in a single site which is not likely to be generally applicable to other settings or patient groups
  • basic scientific or epidemiological research on the causes of disease
  • the testing of new health technologies or diagnostic techniques – these may fall within the remit of the HTA Programme
  • the establishment of a database, as an end in itself. All studies must include specific research questions, and all data collection must directly contribute to answering these questions
  • the setting-up or maintenance of research units
  • proposals which are solely or mainly service developments, audits or needs assessments
  • PhD studentships

See the success rates for HS&DR proposals.

PIn this section you can read more on the people involved in the assessment of applications for the Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme, read the minutes of previous funding decisions and find out more about becoming a reviewer or a Committee member.

A large number of people are involved in assessing the research proposals received by the HS&DR Programme to ensure that the projects are assessed in a clear and fair way, embracing the latest expertise, knowledge and opinion.

Members of NIHR Committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with NIHR business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within NIHR. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form (annually), which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings.

Our Director

Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone

Watch the latest director's message.


HS&DR Funding Committee

The HS&DR Funding Committee assesses stage 1 and 2 proposals received through the commissioned and researcher-led workstreams. At stage one, the committee considers applications primarily for need and importance, and at stage two primarily for scientific quality and value for money. The committee is composed of experts from a range of disciplines relevant to health and social care delivery research, and public contributors. You can view the list of members.



Our community of reviewers play a vital part in maintaining and improving the quality of the HS&DR Programme projects and outputs. They are sought from a variety of fields, including from those who work in and use health and social care services.

To demonstrate our gratitude to our reviewers and acknowledge the important work they do for the programme the names of past year’s reviewers are listed on our website. View list of HS&DR reviewers.

We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.

For help with applying for HS&DR funding:

Tel: 023 8059 4304

Fast-track scheme

 Most research supported by the HS&DR Programme will follow the normal two-stage process of assessment before being funded. However, it may sometimes be necessary to accelerate the handling of a topic and in such circumstances researchers may be eligible to apply through the fast-track scheme.

The fast-track scheme provides an opportunity to submit a stage 2 proposal directly, shortening the length of time it takes for a funding decision to be made.  However, please bear in mind that proposals accepted onto the fast-track scheme will be considered on equal terms with other stage 2 proposals which have had the benefit of feedback by the Research Funding Committee at stage 1.
If you would like your proposal to be considered for the fast-track scheme, please contact You will be asked to:
  • convince the secretariat that there is significant benefit to fast-tracking your application, and
  • submit a written summary of your proposal (usually about one side of A4) in a PICO format if appropriate and/or describe the study briefly in terms of aims, research questions, outcome measures, scale, PPI, inclusion, stakeholder engagement, outputs and dissemination.
The information you provide will then be considered, and you will be informed whether your proposal is eligible for fast-tracking. If it is, you will be provided with more information about submitting your stage 2 application, and the timescales for doing this.

Latest funding opportunities for Health Services and Delivery Research

20/124 – Adult Community Health and Social Care services to avoid planned and unplanned hospital admissions

The Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme are accepting stage 1 applications to this call via the commissioned workstream.

20/115 Health and social care workforce

The Health Services and Delivery Research Programme is accepting stage 1 applications for this funding opportunity.

20/112 Health Service & Delivery Research Programme (Evidence Synthesis Researcher-led)

The Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme is accepting stage 2 evidence synthesis applications to their researcher-led workstream.

20/113 Health Services & Delivery Researcher Programme (Standard Researcher-led)

The Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme is accepting stage 1 applications to their researcher-led workstream.

20/101 HS&DR Cystic Fibrosis

The Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme is accepting stage 1 applications to this funding opportunity.

All HS&DR funding opportunities

Latest news about Health Services and Delivery Research

Latest documents for Health Services and Delivery Research

All HS&DR documents