Health Services and Delivery Research

The HS&DR Programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence to improve the quality, accessibility and organisation of health services.

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

We are particularly keen to support ambitious evaluative research to improve health services. Our research serves a variety of key stakeholders including: NHS managers, Clinical Research Networks (CRNs), clinicians 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 NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme funds research to produce evidence on the quality, accessibility and organisation of health services. This includes evaluations of how the NHS might improve delivery of services. The audience for this research is the public, service users, clinicians 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, 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
  • 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 service quality, accessibility and effectiveness, as long as its importance to the NHS 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 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
  • 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

Contact Us

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


The NIHR 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.