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22/126 HSDR Rapid Service Evaluation Team supporting information


26 August 2022


1.2 - August 2022


The current contracts with HSDR Rapid Service Evaluation Research Team: BRACE and Rapid Service Evaluation Research Team: RSET come to an end in 2023. The NIHR HSDR programme is looking to commission new contracts building on the success of this model of contracting and producing rapid evaluations. It is likely the programme will let two contracts. Contracts will be awarded for a maximum of five years and maximum value of £2m for the whole contract, with an annual review point to ensure contractual compliance.

Please note the guidance sets out maximum expectations and the final tally of evaluations delivered over the lifetime of the contract will be determined by the size of each individual evaluation agreed during the contract.

This is a call for expressions of interest and the HSDR programme welcomes a variety of team models to apply, including partnerships. Demonstration as to how potential applicant teams fulfil the expectations listed in the call specification is the primary purpose of this stage. Applicants invited to complete a full application will have an opportunity to set out their views as to how many and what type of evaluations could be delivered within the stated resource envelope. The programme will accept applications from a partnership.

The expression of interest form call guidance notes Guidance Notes for Expression of Interest applications also clarifies this.

The standard DHSC research contract applies. Contractors will be required to work with:

  • The HSDR Programme Director and Deputy Programme Director
  • NIHR
  • Users of the evidence generated through this contract

Applicants will need to have experience in this type of work and be able to demonstrate methodological expertise and a track record of delivering evaluations of service innovation using a co-produced approach, to time and agreed cost. The programme accepts that content expertise is likely to have to be brought in for particular evaluations including service experts.  These costs will have to be absorbed by the contract.

Successful contractors will help continue to develop thinking in terms of methodological approaches during the course of the contracts, which will inform the wider research community.  Contractors will be expected to work with other teams commissioned by the HSDR programme.


The Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme funds research to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of the health and care services, including evaluations of how health and care providers can improve delivery of services. The audience for this research is the public, service users, clinicians, managers and commissioners. The main focus of outputs from the contracts let under this call is producing key findings for the customers of the programme.

Normally, the HSDR Programme will specify the evaluations, of service developments and innovations for immediate national learning. The teams will be expected to scope out the detail of the work in each case including the methods to be used and resources required in terms of full-time equivalents. The work will be developed through co-productive approaches with the end user of the particular research as well as wider interest groups and stakeholders. Applicants will therefore have to demonstrate their familiarity with these approaches and a track record in doing this type of research development and delivery. Final resource requirements and time needed for the individual evaluations will be negotiated with the HSDR Programme secretariat with reference to the Programme Director and Deputy Programme Director as appropriate. The timeframes to which reports must be delivered will be tight in order to ensure utility of outputs to inform practice change and possible roll out of service change.

Evaluations and research will be related to the whole remit of the HSDR Programme. Broadly, areas will include those listed below:

  • Workforce
  • Patient and service user experience
  • Equity and access
  • Integration and services for people with long-term conditions
  • New models of care/service redesign
  • Quality and safety of services
  • Management, leadership and efficiency
  • Use of technology and telehealth
  • Health inequalities and underserved communities will be threaded throughout all evaluations produced under these contracts.

Examples of funded studies in the HSDR portfolio relevant to this call:

Commissioning and monitoring, editorial review and publication will be managed by the programme secretariat.

Assessment process and timetable

All submissions will receive feedback and a number (likely maximum of three) will be invited to complete a full application form online to be considered by the HSDR Funding Committee. The committee will wish to meet the applicants and the HSDR secretariat will coordinate attendance of two or three members of each applicant team. The date of interviews is to be decided but will be confirmed to shortlisted teams nearer the time. In addition to the criteria set out in the call document, assessment will be looking to see that teams have:

  • Understood the need for an appropriate mix of staff
  • A track record in evaluation service innovation on a diverse range of topics and methodologies across the qualitative and quantitative research spectrum
  • Robust partnership working with evidence users
  • Ability to be flexible and agile in respect of organising their workplans and team

The successful applicants will have best demonstrated an understanding of the service requirement and the ability to meet the specified criteria.


In commissioning a teams or groups with critical mass of evaluation expertise, we would expect there to be efficiencies in activity. We will be commissioning for expertise in evaluating service innovation, working with networks in the service and in general knowledge of health and care service research and management. Subject matter experts might need to be co-opted for particular evaluations. As part of the scoping of individual evaluations, the contractors will have to demonstrate that the need for additional specific expertise has been considered.

Likely minimum staffing requirements for a successful team are:

  • A director who will take overall responsibility for the quality assurance and timely delivery of reports and who has authority to re-deploy resources.
  • Dedicated senior staff time: to supervise, take responsibility for and quality assure each report; and be available to discuss key issues with members of the HSDR Programme secretariat.
  • Scientific staff skilled at health and care services research and working with service innovators including health economics and modelling.
  • Access to appropriate networks of evidence users in the service
  • Senior project management/scientific administrator expertise.

Teams will be required to provide administrative support to all systems and structures used for the execution of the evaluations and should employ an appropriate senior project manager to oversee the programme of work.

Each evaluation will require a detailed project timetable with milestones. As part of scoping an individual evaluation, the contractor will be asked to detail the project management arrangements in order to ensure quality and timeliness of delivery.

Contract management, monitoring and outputs

Contractors will have a designated research manager at the secretariat and the contract will monitored with agreed minimum reporting points and review points as well as an annual financial reconciliation. This will be the standard DHSC contract with a fixed end date. The purpose of monitoring is to enable discussion on current and future work under the contract and on any difficulties which could arise during the lifetime of the contracts.

Outputs from each evaluation will be published primarily in the NIHR Journals Library.