What we do

What we do banner

The Policy Innovation and Evaluation 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 Department of Health & Social Care, 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 National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (reference PR-PRU-1217-20602). PIRU funding has been renewed to run from January 2019 through December 2023.

Further information on the Unit's role, research and work with policy can be found in this presentation >>

Build evidence for policy

Our team of researchers from leading research institutions works with policy and decision-makers in the Department of Health and Social Care, 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 and Social Care 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 and Social Care, 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 report on the first PIRU contract, covering January 2011 to December 2018, is available here >>