19/05 – Health Services & Delivery Research Programme (researcher-led evidence synthesis)

  1. Remit

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 audience for this research is the public, service users, clinicians, professionals and managers.

The HS&DR programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health and social care services, including costs and outcomes. The programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS including research on implementation and a range of knowledge mobilisation initiatives.

The NIHR HS&DR programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from Health and Care Research Wales, the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, and case by case contributions from the CSO in Scotland.

The programme operates two funding streams; researcher-led and commissioned. Researchers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply for funding from either workstream under this programme. Researchers in Scotland may apply to the researcher-led workstream but are not eligible to respond to the commissioned workstream and should contact the CSO to discuss funding opportunities for healthcare delivery-type research.

  1. The Researcher-led Workstream

The researcher-led workstream welcomes Stage 1 (and straight to Stage 2 Evidence Synthesis) proposals on topics or research questions identified by researchers within the programme’s remit. The aim is to fund research that will lead to improvements in health services that will be of greatest benefit to the NHS and to patients. We are interested in a range of types of research including primary research and evidence synthesis.

We are particularly keen to see 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.

If you are planning a project of this type you may wish to refer to the MRC Complex Interventions Framework

Areas of Interest: The researcher-led workstream has a continued interest in applications for research in areas highlighted as a priority in previous NIHR themed calls as well as previous HS&DR highlight notices.

NIHR Themed call Close date
Dementia May 2011
Surgical and implantable devices May 2012
Primary Care Interventions May 2013
Very Rare Diseases Feb 2013
Antimicrobial resistance Jan 2014
Long Term Conditions in children May 2014
Applied Research into Mesothelioma Oct 2014
Multimorbidities in older people Apr 2015
Prevention & Treatment of Obesity April 2016
Mental Health Sep 2018
Chronic Pain Jan 2019
Frailty Jan 2019


The HS&DR programme will fund both primary research and evidence syntheses, depending on the existing research and the most appropriate way of responding to important knowledge gaps. NHS organisations, universities, and other organisations are eligible to apply, though applicants must demonstrate that the research team includes the range of expertise necessary for the work proposed.

The NIHR programmes currently have the following two highlight notices:


1.    Complex Health and Care Needs in Older People. This highlight notice indicates the continuing interest of NIHR in receiving research proposals in this area, and particularly those addressing Frailty; Transitions in care, service delivery and models of care; Medicines management/polypharmacy; Promoting healthy ageing/preventing ill health; Patient-centred decision making.

2.    Brain Tumours. This highlight notice indicates the continuing interest of NIHR in receiving research proposals in this area, and it encourages collaborative applications that demonstrate how they build on recent initiatives and investment in the area made by the NIHR, the MRC and other research funders.

For further details of these highlight notices, please see https://www.nihr.ac.uk/themedcalls

Please note that the 18/136 researcher led call is open to all relevant research areas, and does not just include these highlight notices. If you are responding to the highlight notices, please indicate this in the application form in Section 6, Question 1 ‘What is the problem being addressed?’

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