Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety

What is RCQPS?

The Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS) is a collaborative initiative between the Health Research Board, the Health Service Executive, National Quality Improvement Team and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. It was established in 2013 to advance nationally relevant research in the area of quality and patient safety (QPS).

The model used for this scheme involves collaboration between knowledge users and academic researchers. Those interested in partaking in QPS research are encouraged to register onto the RCQPS Database. The database will be circulated to support and enhance collaboration on research proposals.

Since its inception, nine awards (and one pilot study) have been funded, amassing to an approximate €2.8 million investment in healthcare research. RCPI manage the application and peer review process and the HRB manage funded projects. 

In April 2019, RCQPS pledged a further €1.6 million to quality and patient safety research over the next three years.

The Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety is currently paused.

“This is a huge opportunity to immediately improve the quality of patient care.”

Dr Philip Crowley

Director of National Quality Improvement Team, Health Service Executive

‘Quality and patient safety are a key priority for health service delivery. This partnership approach helps ensure we ask the right research questions to develop evidence informed solutions to real health system challenges that improve people’s health and health care delivery’.

Dr Mairéad O'Driscoll

Chief Executive at the Health Research Board

On average it takes 17 years for health research to translate into clinical practice. Translation of research into patient benefit more rapidly is a policy priority of the Irish healthcare system. In order to aid this process of knowledge translation the RCQPS issue calls for research proposals from a team comprising experienced researchers and those at the forefront of healthcare services and policy-making (termed knowledge users) to address nationally relevant research in the area of quality and patient safety.  This collaborative model has been proposed as the most likely to ensure that research findings are relevant and responsive and can influence decision making in the health and social care system.


We want to fund projects in the area of quality and patient safety.

We want to drive improvements in healthcare quality and patient safety through research.

We are working towards this by:

  1. Developing an Irish research network focused on quality in healthcare and patient safety
  2. Bringing researchers and individuals involved in healthcare improvement, health policy and/or the delivery of services together to identify specific research questions that will improve patient care
  3. Prioritising research questions and allocating funding accordingly.

In 2021,

This year’s applications are invited under the following theme:

Using a Quality Improvement approach to design novel interventions, systems or processes to deliver care based on the needs that have arisen from the direct or indirect impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in Irish health and social care at one of the following levels:

  • service delivery level (e.g. older persons and frailty)
  • healthcare organisation level (e.g. Patient and public involvement, staff wellbeing, trust and autonomy of teams)
  • population level (e.g. mental health, children’s development, public health).

RCQPS awards typically provide funding up to a maximum award value of €280,000 (inclusive of overheads) for projects.  


The duration of RCQPS funding is up to 24 months. 


Since the RCQPS Scheme was introduced in 2013, nine projects have been awarded funding, including an initial pilot study .

For more information on individual awards please visit the HRB RCQPS Webpage.


Applications should be made on behalf of a team which is made up of academic researchers and knowledge users (people in positions of authority to influence and/or make decisions about health policy or the delivery of services and can act to ensure that the findings of the research will be translated to influence decision making and change within their (or other) organisations). The applicant team should designate a Lead Applicant from the research team and the knowledge user team. Research findings will have a direct impact on decision-making in the knowledge user organisation and it must be clear how the knowledge user will be integrated throughout the project. Researchers should be at mid-stage or senior stage in their career. Experience in patient-orientated and clinical research, population health research and/or health services research is essential.

Only one application per Lead Applicant to this scheme will be considered


Please complete the pre-application form and email it to by 10 June 2021 12pm.


Typical RCQPS Application Process:

  1. Academic researchers and knowledge users that wish to collaborate on a research proposal submit a joint pre-application to RCQPS.
  2. Pre-applications are reviewed by a pre-application grant selection panel.
  3. Shortlisted pre-applications are invited to submit a full application to RCQPS. Feedback is given to all applicants.
  4. Full applications undergo a two-stage review process including international peer review and review by a full application grant selection panel. Please note that applicants will have a right to respond to any issues or queries raised by international reviewers prior to applications being reviewed by the full application grant selection panel.
  5. Following review, the Board of the HRB will approve the funding recommendation.
  6. Applicants are informed of the funding outcome by the RCQPS Research Coordinator.

We owe it to patients to allocate funding responsibly and ensure the maximum positive health impact. Each research application is carefully assessed and scored by grant selection panels composed of experts from the scientific community including quality improvement and patient safety, with experience working on collaborative projects with clinician leadership and health services management for knowledge exchange activities. 

We consider both scientific and knowledge translation criteria with equal weighting:

Scientific criteria (50% weighting)

  • Does the project address a Quality and Patient Safety priority in Ireland relevant to the identified themes for this call?
  • Will the research design and methodology answer the research question?
  • Is there evidence that the Collaborators (knowledge users, researchers and PPI contributors) have developed a genuine partnership to deliver on the proposed project?
  • Is there an appropriate project plan and risk mitigation?

Knowledge translation criterion (50% weighting)

  • Is there real potential for translation of the findings into policy and/or practice?

An assessment of PPI approach may influence the assessment of any or all criteria depending on the nature of the proposed research. 

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