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The Strategy Unit issues free guide to evaluation principles and practice

In the NHS, and across health and care, organisations, teams and systems are under pressure like never before. COVID-19 has demanded transformational change at pace. Reorganisation for integration is coming into sharper focus. The perpetual strain on funding constrains the day-to-day commitment to provide the best services for patients, service users and communities.  

Now, more than ever, there is a need to harness the learning from new ways of working and models of service delivery – to redesign the NHS and test things we thought weren’t possible.  

Evaluation is essential. It is about understanding what works, for who and why. It is a process for learning and key to understanding how to make the best use of available resources and improve outcomes. Without the right evidence, the right decisions and investments can’t be made.  

The Strategy Unit has a passion for high-quality analysis that provides this evidence and informs these decisions. 

Health and care continue to innovate, in a new world 

The COVID-19 response has brought change at all levels, from new ways of supporting self-management to interventions for staff wellbeing.  

The use of technology is being fast-tracked. Total digital triage is now routine across primary care. Artificial Intelligence is being tested at scale.  

And day-to-day business as usual continues, with new priorities and challenges demanding new ways of working in COVID-19 restrictions.  

As STPs become ICSs, with guidance continuing to emerge, there are new opportunities to build on what works as well as tackle long-standing problems. Systems that can learn and self-improve will thrive; those that can’t, won’t.    

In this rapidly changing environment, decision makers need to be properly informed. A comprehensive evidence base will ensure that we keep what works, improve what shows potential, and end what is failing to deliver.   

That’s why we have developed a free guide to evaluation principles and practice in health and care. Rather than detailing a prescribed approach, it provides an accessible, set-by-step guide to designing and delivering a high-quality evaluation, whatever your resources. If you are commissioning an evaluation, it will help you understand what you should consider.  

And for people making changes in frontline teams, we have also developed a free guide on learning from COVID-19 changes and a free guide innovation and evaluation in the NHS

The Strategy Unit’s ongoing commitment to building capacity  g

Our evaluation guide has been developed as part of our NHS Midlands Decision Support Network (MDSN). The MDSN has been created to support the development of a Decision Support Unit (DSU) in each of the region’s ICSs/STPs, networking analytical capacity across each footprint and bringing the DSUs together, sharing resources, reducing duplication and driving analytical excellence.  

We look forward to continuing our work, within the Midlands and nationally, to bring and support excellence in evaluation for better outcomes in a changing world.