Education And Debate

Commissioning a national programme of research and development on the interface between primary and secondary care

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 21 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1080
  1. Janet Wisely, programme managera,
  2. Andrew Haines, director of research and developmenta
  1. aNHS Executive, North Thames, London W2 3QR
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Haines.
  • Accepted 3 August 1995

The first call for applications to the NHS research and development programme on the interface between primary and secondary care was advertised in February 1994. A total of 674 outline proposals were submitted and 54 (8%) secured funding. Projects have been commissioned in 16 of the 21 priority areas and around pounds sterling6m has been committed. Analysis shows that multidisciplinary applications are more likely to be funded and that the odds for a successful application are on average nearly doubled for each discipline represented up to five. A survey of applicants and peer reviewers found satisfaction with much of the commissioning process, but peer review and feedback were subject to criticism, particularly by unsuccessful applicants. The programme shows that it is possible to commission a large number of projects in an innovative area of research and development and has identified refinements that will further increase the efficiency and acceptability of the process.

The priority setting process for the national programme of research on the interface between primary and secondary care is described in the accompanying article (p 1076).1 This paper details the commissioning process. We believe that the process should be as “transparent” as possible and that there should be opportunity for comment and constructive criticism to help refine the process.

Commissioning process

Responsibility for the national programme of research and development on the interface between primary and secondary care was given to the research and development directorate at North East Thames Regional Health Authority (now NHS Executive North Thames). A commissioning group chaired by Professor Michael Clarke was established to advise on the programme. The commissioning process (figure) followed a two stage format established by previous NHS programmes.

Outcome of commissioning process to February 1995 (one funded project subsequently withdrawn—see text)


In February 1994 an advertisement was published in the …

View Full Text

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial