Current projects
The legacy of policy piloting
The legacy of policy piloting

This project examines the effects of national pilot schemes initiated by the Department of Health on local implementation sites such as local authorities and local NHS organisations (e.g. clinical commissioning groups). Piloting has become an established mechanism of introducing health and social care policy change. Recent work by PIRU has focused on the motivations of national policy-makers to initiate pilot programmes and has examined the multiple – and sometimes contradictory – purposes of piloting. Local pilots sites involved in piloting often have to live up to the dual expectation of helping to establish whether policy 'works' and of achieving policy change in their areas that is sustainable and effective beyond the life span of the pilot scheme.

As a first step, we will focus on local authorities and map their participation in recent pilot programmes in heath and social care. Adult social care directors will be interviewed to elicit their reasons for participating in national pilot schemes, their experience of implementing pilots and their views of the long-term effects of these schemes. We will further explore the local effects of national piloting by analysing recent involvement in programmes and by following up on the effects of pilots as stated in evaluation reports.

Understanding the perspective and experience of local implementers will help develop evaluation designs that can support local sites in their efforts of facilitating sustainable change to policy and practice.

PIRU is carrying out the project in collaboration with RAND Europe.

A preliminary framework for analysis has been developed, which includes:

  • Pre piloting: pilot readiness, pilot support at national level, participation in previous initiatives
  • During piloting: intervention characteristics; planning, engaging, executing and reflecting/evaluating; implementation context and climate
  • Post piloting: continuity, discontinuity and adaptation; normalisation and mainstreaming

Reporting should be completed by the end of 2016.