Research for Patient Benefit

Inspired by patients and practice, this scheme generates research evidence for the benefit of users of the NHS in England so that the huge potential for improving, expanding and strengthening the way that healthcare is delivered for patients, the public and the NHS is realised.

A national, researcher-led programme, over 700 applied research projects in health services and social care have already been funded across the country through our Regional Advisory Panels.


We support research that is related to the day-to-day practice of health service staff and is concerned with having an impact on the health or well-being of patients and users of the NHS (see study example below).

We encourage proposals for projects covering a wide range of health service issues and challenges and do not specify topics for research. The research projects we fund are likely to fall into the areas of health service research and public health research. The research projects might use quantitative or qualitative methods to:

  • Study the provision and use of NHS services
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of interventions
  • Examine the resource utilisation of alternative means for healthcare delivery
  • Formally scrutinise innovations and developments
  • Consider the feasibility of research requiring major award applications to other funders.

All researchers in the NHS in England can apply (see competition dates) and joint applications with academic partners are encouraged.

The funding for individual projects is up to £350,000 for up to 36 months. Feasibility studies are expected to cost less than £250,000 and proposals that will generate results that might be useful for more downstream investigations are expected to cost less than £150,000.

Applications emerging from interaction with patients and the public, that relate to patient and service user experience, and have been drawn up in association with a relevant group of service users are particularly welcome.

In all cases, a clear trajectory to patient benefit is a major selection criterion.

Study example

An example of our funding is the REVERT* study, led by Andrew Appelboam at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, to investigate whether a modification to posture in the Valsalva manoeuvre would improve its performance in treating patients in the emergency department with an abnormally fast heart rate. This was the first randomised controlled trial to assess the effect of modifying posture in the technique and was undertaken across 10 NHS emergency departments involving more than 400 patients.

The findings, published in The Lancet (see film below), showed that the modification was three times more effective at bringing heart rhythm back to normal than performing the whole manoeuvre in the usual semi-reclining position.

Patients, involved throughout the study, also benefit through the reduced need for more interventional treatments, such as intravenous adenosine, which may have unpleasant side effects. Read more in the NIHR Signal A new, simple postural manoeuvre can stop an abnormally fast heart rate (4 November 2015).

*Randomised Evaluation of modified Valsalva Effectiveness in Re-entrant Tachycardias (REVERT) study


Competition dates

Competition 33 Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 29 March 2017 Late October 2017
Submission deadline 19 July 2017 Late November 2017
Submission outcome Late October 2017 Late March 2018


 Competition 32 Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 7 December 2016 Mid-June 2017
Submission deadline 22 March 2017 Late July 2017
Submission outcome Mid-June 2017 Late November 2017


 Competition 31 Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 10 August 2016 Late February 2017
Submission deadline 23 November 2016 Mid-March 2017
Submission outcome Late February 2017 Early August 2017