Rapid implementation of new products and pathways bought about need for rapid, yet thorough, evaluation to understand the efficacy of innovations and new approaches. During the first wave of the pandemic, AHSNs led regional evaluation projects in partnership with local systems and recovery cells to gather insights into new ways of working.
However, it also highlighted the absence of any pre-existing national rapid evaluation programmes and exposed inconsistencies in the way evaluation is co-ordinated and funded.
Our review demonstrates the need for national policy to promote evaluation in significant service change and that evaluation for large-scale changes should be appropriately funded. Increased capacity for evaluation and applied research is also required, which can be met through training and collaboration.