RSET: The rapid service evaluation team

Rapid evaluations of new ways of providing care.

The health and care system in the UK looks after an ageing population with increasingly complex care needs, but money is tight. This means the NHS needs to:

  1. develop new ways of providing care and,
  2. when a new approach works well, understand and share learning about that success with other parts of the health and care system quickly.

To meet this challenge, the Rapid Service Evaluation Team (‘RSET’), comprising health service researchers, health economists and other colleagues from University College London and the Nuffield Trust, have come together to rapidly evaluate new ways of providing and organising care.

We have been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Service and Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme for five years, starting on April 1st 2018. The NIHR HS&DR programme have also funded a second team, the Birmingham, RAND and Cambridge Evaluation (‘BRACE’) Centre, which is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, RAND Europe, the University of Cambridge and National Voices. The two teams will coordinate their evaluation programmes to maximise benefits from our work.

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What are we doing?

We are studying the latest changes in health and care services, and provide meaningful lessons about these changes in a timely manner.

We are looking at changes in terms of:

  1. the impact of services on how well patients do (e.g. their quality of life, how likely patients are to recover)
  2. whether services give people the right care at the right time
  3. whether these services are good value for money
  4. how changes are put into practice, and what patients, carers, and staff think about how the changes happened and whether they think the changes made a difference
  5. what lessons there are for the rest of the NHS and care.

What are we evaluating?

We are evaluating service innovations – those driven both by national policy, and local needs – from innovative organisational hospital forms such as hospital groups and innovations in the management of services to new ways of delivering services to patients, and quality improvement initiatives.

We are working with our Stakeholder Advisory Board (a specially selected group of national experts, including patient and public representatives from a wide range of settings) and others to identify health and care innovations to evaluate.  

How are we evaluating?

Different service innovations will require different approaches to their evaluation. We are using a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches as appropriate to each evaluation, including, analyses of administrative and other datasets, economic analysis, stakeholder interviews and focus groups, surveys and discrete choice experiments.

How are we sharing results?

We want the findings from our research to have a timely impact. We believe that sharing findings as they emerge will increase their impact and benefit for patients, the public, and the health and care systems. Therefore we share our findings rapidly with the people who are making changes.

For each project, we are working with our partners to agree how best to share lessons from our work effectively. We are experts in doing this, and have excellent links with health and care services across the country.

We are also making use of user-friendly summaries, blogs and webpages, workshops, present at conferences, and publish research articles that can be read freely by the public.

Who do we work with?

We involve patients, and the public, clinicians, and those running health and care services at every stage of our research, both within projects and across the programme as a whole.

We work closely with the NIHR, and be guided by our Stakeholder Advisory Board, which looks at

  1. whether we are doing what we set out to do
  2. keep us up to date on the latest service changes, and
  3. tell us what they think about our new plans for research.

RSET newsletters

Issue 1 - April 2020

Issue 2 - January 2021

Issue 3 - July 2021

Issue 4 - January 2022

If you have an idea for a service innovation we might evaluate, or want to get in touch, please contact us at

RSET: NT UCL 22/02/2019


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Evaluations in progress

Evaluation of remote monitoring models during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK: overview and Phase 2 01/02/2021


Phase 2 of RSET and BRACE's study of remote monitoring models for Covid-19 patients explores the second wave of the pandemic.

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Pre-hospital specialist triage of potential stroke patients using digital technology 01/08/2020


A rapid service evaluation to capture learning and impact of innovations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Investigating innovations in outpatient services 01/11/2020


RSET investigates the effectiveness of innovations to improve outpatient services and looks at how outpatient activity has changed in England since 2008.

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Evaluating a youth violence intervention programme 01/11/2020


An evaluation of the implementation, effectiveness and cost effectiveness of a youth violence intervention programme for vulnerable young people attending Emergency Departments in London.

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Centralisation of specialist health care services: a mixed-methods programme 01/01/2021


RSET investigates how the centralisation of specialist health care services in the UK can be characterised, how different approaches to centralisation might work better in different settings, and whether patients and health care professionals would prefer specialist health care services to be centralised.

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Peer supported social care in prisons 15/06/2021


The RSET team will perform documentary analysis of Her Majesty’s inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) reports to answer important questions about social care in prisons.

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Completed evaluations

Evaluation of remote monitoring models during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK: Phase 1 01/08/2020


RSET and BRACE collaborated on a study of remote home monitoring methods, or 'virtual wards' for Covid-19 patients.

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Special measures for quality improvement and challenged providers 01/01/2019


RSET evaluates the impact of improvement interventions in NHS trusts.

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Identification and Prioritisation of innovations in adult social care and social work 01/07/2019


As the needs and demands of social care and social work increase, there is a growing number of innovative models and approaches trying to tackle the challenge. The aim of this project is to identify and shortlist innovations in adult social care and social work in the UK for evaluation.

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RSET: NT UCL 22/02/2019


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Rapid evaluation in health care 2021 26/01/2021


The third annual conference was organised by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation in collaboration with NIHR RSET and NIHR BRACE.

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Addressing failure and turnaround in health care organisations: a review of current approaches and experiences across NHS providers.

Rapid prioritisation of adult social care innovations for evaluation: Reflections and considerations.

Rapid evaluation in health care 2020 30/01/2020

The Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation, in collaboration with RSET and BRACE, are holding an event to explore what good practice in a rapid, rigorous evaluation looks like as well as share lessons learnt from recent and on-going evaluations.

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Advancing rapid evaluation: challenges and opportunities 29/01/2019 • 09.15–16.30Charles Tallack | Fraser Battye | Jo Ellins | Dr Adam Steventon | Professor Judith Smith | Dr. Ron Agble


The Nuffield Trust in collaboration with three national Rapid Evaluation Centres – RSET, BRACE and the Improvement Analytics Unit - held an event to explore the growing use of rapid evaluation in the health service as a mechanism to drive improvement.

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The RSET Stakeholder Advisory Board (SAB) provides RSET with advice and representation from experts across the health and social care sectors from around the UK. The SAB provides overall programme oversight and ongoing advice and support for the programme.

Members include:
  • Rob Webster (Chair): Lead Chief Executive, West Yorkshire and Harrogate ICS
  • Charlie Davie: Hub Director for Health Data Research UK Cancer Hub, UCLP
  • Alisha Davies: Head of Research and Development, Public Health Wales
  • Hannah-Rose Douglas: Senior Analytical Manager & Policy Research Lead, Evaluation Team Data and Analytics, NHS England
  • Daniel Farag: Director, NESTA Health Lab
  • Steve Feast: Former Managing Director, Eastern AHSN
  • Catherine French: Associate Director, KHP Cardiovascular and Respiratory Partnership Programme
  • Dominic King: Senior Vice President, Clinical Solutions, Optum
  • Tara Lamont: Senior Scientific Adviser (HS&DR), NIHR
  • Kirsten Major: Chief Executive, Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS FT
  • Liz Mear: Managing Director, Leeds Academic Health Partnership
  • Raj Mehta: Patient and Public Involvement Advisor, NIHR CLAHRC NT Research Advisory Panel
  • Jenny Shand: Director, UCLPartners and Executive Lead, Care City
  • Allison Smith: Head of Research & Insight, Royal Voluntary Service
  • Adam Steventon: Director of Data Analytics, The Health Foundation
  • Fola Tayo: Patient and Public Involvement Advisor, NIHR CLAHRC NT Research Advisory Panel
  • Denise Tyrell: Head of Planning for Vaccination Centres, National COVID-19 Vaccines Deployment Programme