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Targeted Research Call - Evaluation of the ‘Pilot Implementation of the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix’
Project / Programme grants
Opening Date:
3 March 2016
Closing Date:
30 March 2016


As outlined in Research-Evidence-Action, HRB Strategy (2016-2020), Focus Area 3 concentrates on supporting the needs of the Irish health and social care system. Activities and supports in this focus area have a short-medium term and a more applied perspective, and are designed in close collaboration and partnership with healthcare decision makers in order to ensure that the research is more responsive to priority themes and topics and to accelerate knowledge translation. Under Focus Area 3, the HRB may from time to announce calls for targeted research to solicit and fund research applications in a particular area of health where there are knowledge and/or research capacity gaps related to current/anticipated policy and/or programme development as defined by policy makers and knowledge users. The HRB is pleased to announce a Targeted Research Call to conduct an Evaluation of the ‘Pilot Implementation of the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix’.

Scope of Call:

The nursing and midwifery workforce is critical to the delivery of safe effective patient care. Identifying safe approaches to nurse staffing in hospitals is a key challenge for health service providers. In September 2014, a Taskforce for Staffing and Skill Mix in Nursing was established. The core objective of the Taskforce was the development of a framework to support the determination of staffing and skill mix requirements for the nursing workforce (nursing refers to the nursing team including both the nurse and healthcare assistant role) in a range of major specialities. The Taskforce published its Interim Report and Recommendations on Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix for General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Care Settings in Acute Adult Hospitals in February 2016. The Interim Report sets out a potential mechanism to deliver a structured approach to determining nurse staffing and skill mix across acute in-patient and general and specialist medical and surgical wards. A key action in progressing the Framework towards national roll-out is the undertaking of a pilot implementation and evaluation phase, focusing on a restricted number of sites.


The pilot implementation project will be based in three hospitals as follows;

  • One large acute hospital (Model 4) – Beaumont Hospital

  • One medium acute hospital (Model 3) – Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda
  • One small acute hospital (Model 2) – St Colmcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown


A selection of general and specialist medical and surgical wards will be included in the pilot phase with a minimum of six wards in total for inclusion in the pilot and up to a maximum of ten wards. Oversight of the pilot planning and implementation phase is being managed by a dedicated Pilot Planning and Implementation Team chaired by the Chief Nursing Officer in the Department of Health. The Pilot Planning and Implementation Team will select local wards for inclusion in the pilot and they will also act as the support to Local Pilot Implementation Teams in each of the three sites.

The evaluation should assess the capability of the Framework components to deliver their intended outcomes and to provide the necessary insights to inform recommendations for further national rollout and to ensure sustainability of the approach. Applicants are invited to propose an evaluation design and strategy which is appropriate and feasible to:


1.    Measure the impact of implementing the pilot of the Framework (specifically Nursing Hours per Patient Day NHPPD) on nurse-sensitive patient outcomes measures, staff outcome measures and organisational factors;

2.    Measure the economic impact of implementing the Framework using appropriate economic evaluation techniques;

3.    Using implementation science methods, provide an evidence-based assessment of the adoption and implementation of the framework in practice to guide future national roll-out decisions.

Critical Timelines

As the successful research team will be undertaking the evaluation study in the context of an already established and scheduled pilot project it is expected that the Principal Investigator of the successful research team will become a critical member of the Pilot Planning and Implementation Team once appointed. The Pilot Planning and Implementation Team and the Local Pilot Implementation Teams will work closely with the evaluation team to ensure that mechanisms are in place to proactively manage issues such as site access and/or data access and/or ethics approval and to facilitate, where possible,  other aspects of the evaluation study.


At present the Pilot Planning and Implementation Group has commenced the co-ordination and planning for the pilot project, and this is expected to commence during April 2016. It is critical that the successful research team can align with these timelines to conduct the evaluation.  It is anticipated that the successful research team will be informed of the outcome of the peer review process by the HRB during May 2016, so it is critical that the research team are ready to commence on-site activity immediately following notification.


At a minimum, the research team must generate a brief headline report on the evaluation by mid-September 2016 and a final and more detailed report will be required for submission to the Pilot Planning and Implementation Group by the end of November 2016. 

Funding Available:

The maximum amount that can be requested from the HRB is €200,000 (inclusive of overheads). Aligned with the critical timelines for the pilot implementation of the Framework, it is envisaged that the successful evaluation study will have a term typically spanning May-December2016.

Who should apply?

The Host Institution for the award should be a recognised research institution in the Republic of Ireland approved by the HRB for the management of HRB awards. The Principal Investigator must demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and supports necessary to direct the proposed research and to be actively engaged in carrying the research through to completion. Applicants must demonstrate clearly that their research team contains the necessary breadth and depth of expertise in all the methodological areas required in the development and delivery of the proposed project.

The reviewers will evaluate applications based on the following two assessment criteria, and applications must score highly against both criteria to be considered for funding:

(1) The research team and environment

(2) Feasibility and suitability of the research approach and methodology


Submission and Deadline:

It is not possible to submit applications for this call through the HRB online Grant E-Management System (GEMS). Instead, completed applications should be submitted as a pdf file, emailed to dtedstone(at) The deadline for submission of complete applications to the HRB is Wednesday 30 March 2016 at 16:00hrs.


Further background to the call and detailed instructions on completing the application form is available in the guidelines notes below.

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