What we do
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The Policy Innovation Research Unit (PIRU) began work in January 2011. It brings together leading health and social care policy and research expertise to improve evidence-informed policy-making and its implementation across the National Health Service, local authority social care and the field of public health.

In particular we aim to strengthen policy development at national level by subjecting innovations and other initiatives to speedy, thorough, early stage evaluation.

The Unit is funded by the Policy Research Programme of the Department of Health, currently until the end of December 2018.


Build evidence for policy

Our team of researchers from leading research institutions works with policy and decision-makers in the Department of Health, its arm's length bodies, the wider NHS, local government and beyond. Together, we produce rigorous research and evaluative evidence with a main focus on informing the early stages of policy innovation.

Strengthen evaluation

We principally focus on developing evaluation methods and undertaking evaluative studies (for example, of pilots and other forms of structured innovation) initiated at an early stage of national policy development. Our work spans the entire Department of Health portfolio of health services, social care and public health policy.

Support implementation

We have good working relationships with policy and analytical staff in the Department of Health, NHS England, Public Health England and other national agencies. Ideally, we will be involved from the earliest stage of policy development to ensure that the needs of evaluation are taken into account throughout the policy process.

We also contribute to strengthening the Department’s ability to use evidence from previous research.

A progress report on the first four years of the Unit's life, covering January 2011 to August 2014, is available here>>