Skip to main content


The NECS Research and Evidence team undertake evaluations across multiple geographies and areas of the NHS system, understanding the health care environment and the challenges this poses to delivering evidence based, evaluative approaches, which align with the health sectors needs and availability.

Our team can be commissioned to carry out independent evaluations and partner with other stakeholders or organisations on projects. We have been involved in delivering projects and evaluations on a local, regional, and national scale. Some examples of work we have carried out are given below.

National evaluation: Advice & Guidance services – an evaluation of demand-side factors

The NECS Research & Evidence and Business Intelligence Teams were commissioned to undertake analysis and evaluation by the NHS England and Improvement (NHS E&I) National Elective Care Recovery & Transformation Team in 2020. This focused on understanding the demand side of A&G, and involved:

  • Quantitative analysis to investigate A&G usage, identify A&G pathways and the proportion of requests that generate an outpatient referral/appointment
  • Mixed methods evaluation to understand primary care and commissioner perspectives on clinical A&G services used within the NHS in England – uptake, outcomes, barriers and opportunities, before and since the COVID-19 pandemic

This evaluation aims to present evidence, shared learning and understanding to support the ongoing development of A&G within the Referral Optimisation agenda.

Due to the ongoing need for evidence to support the development of A&G, analysis and evaluation results were presented to key national stakeholder groups as they became available.

In September 2021, a full report on the evaluation, and a summary slide deck of findings and recommendations were published online. These are available at the links below.

Full evaluation report:
Advice & Guidance services: An evaluation of demand-side factors

Summary slide deck:
Summary: Advice & Guidance services – an evaluation of demand-side factors

National evaluation: General Practice Retention Intensive Support Sites (GPRISS)

The NECS Research and Evidence team were commissioned to undertake an independent, collaborative evaluation of the seven General Practice Retention Intensive Support Sites (GPRISS) by NHS E&I in 2018.

Our team formed a collaborative and effective delivery partnership with colleagues from NEL CSU, developing an evaluation framework with NHS E&I and adopting a mixed-methods approach to data collection. The aim of the evaluation was to ascertain the effectiveness of various types of interventions, the overall impact of a multi-level intervention approach, local barriers and facilitators, as well as key lessons learned regarding retention programmes.

Our approach involved a desktop review of site profiles, analysis of national workforce data, quantitative surveys, and qualitative interviews and focus groups to provide a comprehensive assessment of the intensive support sites.

Further details and findings are detailed within the full evaluation report

Evidence from the evaluation informed a national GP retention toolkit, published by NHS E&I in July 2019

A second phase follow-up evaluation was commissioned by NHS E&I in Autumn 2019, which allowed interventions to be fully implemented or embedded into local systems and the focus to shift onto actual benefits and outcomes, and the experience of GPs who had received support. The associated evaluation report can be found below.


Regional project: North East Vanguards

The New Care Models (NCM) programme, being implemented through the vanguards, aimed to catalyse the widespread adoption of new models of care to improve the health and wellbeing of patients, the quality of care that patients receive as well as the efficiency of the overall system. Evaluation was an essential component and a core part of the approach developed by the central team at NHS E&I. NECS Research and Evidence team led the guidance and project management support for this evaluation process, providing a professional link between the five vanguards in North East and academic evaluation partners at Newcastle University, Durham University and the Northumbria University.

This work was provided for the length of the vanguards programme and included developing the evaluation specification, supporting procuring, and working with an independent evaluation team to deliver the project as per vanguard requirement. 

Local project: Evaluation of a CCG Primary Care Incentive Scheme

NECS were commissioned by a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in the North East and North Cumbria to carry out an evaluation of a novel GP incentive scheme aiming to break down the traditional commissioner / provider split and tight performance management. A key area of evaluation was the acceptance and subsequent benefits of the radical approach, to see if it met the original aims. The NECS Business Intelligence team worked jointly with the Research and Evidence team to enable the evaluation to include a survey of practice staff experiences and views, and monitoring of the original metrics from the previous incentive scheme to see if the new approach impacted on these outcomes. The comprehensive report was tailored to the CCG’s needs, with a comparison to other incentive schemes and recommendations made regarding methods for future evaluation of the scheme.

Local Project: Social Prescribing Navigators Report

NECS were commissioned by Newcastle GP Services Ltd to carry out an independent evaluation of their Social Prescribing Navigator service. This comprised both quantitative and qualitative elements. Referral and engagement data, together with use of non-elective secondary care was analysed by Business Intelligence, and qualitative interviews with both staff and patients were carried out by the Research and Evidence Team.

The findings indicated that the Social Prescribing Navigator Service is a valuable service addressing a clear demand for the population of Newcastle. The team of Navigators are resourceful and flexible to meet the needs of their patients. There are variations in practice engagement and referral rates, and a significant opportunity for marketing of the service to raise awareness amongst staff and patients to address this, to ensure all those who would benefit from the service are able to access it.

For more details, please see the full report here – Social Prescribing Navigators Report FINAL 12042021

Year of Care – Falls Frailty and Care and Support Planning – V1.0 Feb 21