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Vacancy details

Closing date: 05 July 2021

Other vacancies

Programme Director, NIHR Health Services & Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme

The Director of Science, Research and Evidence for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is looking to select an exceptional person to be the Programme Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme, to succeed Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone who comes to the end of her tenure at the end of November 2021.

If you believe passionately in evidence-based care and want to make the health and social care services and organisations work better for service users, patients and the dedicated staff and managers who provide care, and you have a strong track record in health and care services research, then this is the role for you. Leading this influential programme will allow you to work across the health and social care sectors and alongside key influencers in government.

As Programme Director, you will be accountable to the Director for Science, Research and Evidence for the DHSC through the Head of Research Programmes. You will be accountable for the programme’s research budget, the overall scientific quality of its portfolio and for probity of decision-making. You will have oversight of the programme’s portfolio of funded studies, currently around 193 contracts with a total value of around £122M. Working in the NIHR, you will have the opportunity to improve the care and well-being of service users, patients and their families and support networks, as well as health and social care professionals across all sectors of care provision.

The right candidate will have proven experience of health and social care services research and proven reach into service management, as well as sound knowledge of research and development (R&D) in the field of health and social care. They will also have a good understanding of research methods, excellent communication and negotiating skills and proven ability to chair large committees effectively.

The total time commitment to the NIHR HS&DR programme is, on average, around one and a half days per week, to cover attendance at meetings, approval of contracting new research, and undertaking a strategic role within the HS&DR programme and wider NIHR. The contract will initially be for three years, to be reviewed after two years. The Department of Health and Social Care will reimburse the successful applicant’s employing institution for their time commitment.

At NIHR our people are our success. We aim to attract a diverse community from a broad range of cultures, ethnicities, and beliefs. We want to unite under our shared vision, best research for best health, by attracting a diverse community of stakeholders. We welcome applications from under-represented groups.

We strive to host inclusive and accessible events that enable all individuals to engage fully. We will do everything we can to meet individual committee member’s needs.

Job Description


The NIHR 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 current HS&DR funding budget is £20.5 million per annum. 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 is proud of its role in supporting ambitious, evaluative research that improves the nation’s health and social care services. We strive to improve racial and ethnic diversity among funding committee members to ensure our processes are inclusive and draw from a wide talent pool. We want research proposals received by HS&DR to embrace the broadest possible expertise, knowledge and opinion, to enhance the assessment process.

The HS&DR 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 increases the range of knowledge and insight into our assessment committees. The programme is committed to being inclusive and therefore funding research which is conducted and addresses areas of most need both geographically and in content. This includes working with people who use and receive services to develop research which is most meaningful to them.


Role Summary

As Director of the HS&DR programme, you will play a pivotal role in the management and development of the HS&DR programme and the NIHR:

• Advise the NIHR on all matters related to the programme and area of interest.
• Play a key role in developing the strategy and profile of the programme and the NIHR through significant external liaison and ambassadorial activities. This will include responding to additional ad-hoc requests for advice and support from the NIHR Programme Director and Chairs’ Group, NETSCC, or the Science, Research, and Evidence Directorate of the Department of Health and Social Care, and to represent the HS&DR programme at other events.
• Support the development of NIHR programmes and strategy, in areas of your expertise, through attendance and participation in the NIHR Strategy Board and meetings with other NIHR Programme Directors.
• Review, advise on scope (and content where applicable), and approve commissioning briefs for the HS&DR programme at several points throughout the year.
• Triage submitted applications, working with the Deputy Programme Director, and the secretariat, to decide whether the applications are in remit of the HS&DR programme and competitive (usually six times a year).
• Attend and chair HS&DR Funding Committee meetings. These are held six times a year, for two-days each time, and you will be required to chair the second day of each meeting (stage two proposals) and very occasionally deputise for the Deputy Programme Director in reviewing stage 1 applications if the usual deputising arrangements are not possible.
• At funding meetings, support the Committee in agreeing feedback for applicants. Afterwards, review and approve the Funding Committee meeting minutes and funding recommendations. Also, review any revised applications that you chaired and were recommended for funding with changes, to ensure the changes required by the Funding Committee have been made, before approving the application for contracting.
• Attend and chair the HS&DR Programme Oversight Committee. This committee usually meets three times a year either in person or virtually for a one-day meeting, to discuss the strategic direction of the programme and the programme’s research agenda.
• Attend and chair the HS&DR Programme’s annual senior leaders’ away-day.
• Oversee the funded portfolio of studies. This will include reviewing changes to protocol and making recommendations to DHSC in case of contractual considerations, based on advice from the secretariat. The HS&DR programme undertakes an active overview of the progress of funded projects, and the Director will be expected to participate in this activity attending selected meetings with project researchers, usually remotely.
• Occasionally the Programme Director will be involved in review meetings with funded teams – this is usually to do with the nature of specific research contracts which warrant annual review, for instance.
• Attend Programme Liaison Group teleconferences which are usually by teleconference and usually scheduled for an hour and half every six weeks.
• Communicate the work of the Programme effectively to the research community in person and via electronic sources.

You will be supported in your role by the HS&DR Programme Deputy Director, who is responsible to you, the programme’s Funding Committee members (made up of public contributors, senior academics, and NHS and social care representatives), and by the committed and experienced secretariat at the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) based at the University of Southampton.


Person Specification


  • Recognised Senior Leader in health and social care services research and/or management (as demonstrated by a track record in a relevant research field)
  • Current knowledge of health and social care services research and research methods, including an appreciation of a wide range of research approaches
  • Knowledge of current developments in the field of health and social care services, and demonstrable reach into the health and social care evidence using community
  • Proven experience in chairing large committees
  • Strong commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of programme activity
  • Strong commitment to supporting Patient and Public Involvement as a core value throughout the programme
  • Knowledge of the NIHR portfolio
  • A strong sense of fairness and probity
  • Discretion in the handling of confidential information
  • Ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with a wide range of stakeholders
  • Confident negotiation skills
  • Capacity to dedicate time to the HS&DR programme, including complying with programme timelines, attending meetings, and preparation work.
  • Capacity to work at NIHR level including, if required, represent the NIHR at national and international level


  • Experience of chairing funding committee
  • Experience of managing significant budgets


Submitting an application

You may wish to discuss the role or make a request or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact with the NETSCC HS&DR Head of Programme, Steph Garfield-Birkbeck; email: . The outgoing Programme Director, Jo Rycroft-Malone, can also be contacted for an informal discussion of the role; email:

Please submit a full CV and supporting letter by 1pm on July 5th, 2021. Applications should be submitted by email to:

Applications will be assessed by a shortlisting panel against the essential criteria set out in the specification for this role. In early August, shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview; interviews will be held in central London if possible, otherwise via Teams, in early/mid-September (date to be confirmed). The successful applicant will be invited to attend the HS&DR Funding Committee meeting on the 17th & 18th November 2021 as part of the induction process.