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Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety

Due to COVID-19, the call opening for RCQPS has been deferred until further notice. (It had been expected to open in April 2020).

What is RCQPS?

In 2013, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) together with the National Quality Improvement team in the Health Service Executive (HSE NQI Team) and the Health Research Board (HRB) founded the Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS) to fund research projects which have a real potential to improve the Irish healthcare system. Since its inception, nine awards (and one pilot study) have been funded, amassing to an approximate €2.8 million investment in healthcare research. This award scheme is co-funded by the HRB and the HSE NQI Team. RCPI manage the application and peer review process and the HRB manage funded projects. 

In April 2019, RCQPS launched its latest funding cycle pledging a further €1.6 million into quality and patient safety research over the next three years.

“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

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.

A 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 2019, for Cycle 6 RCQPS introduced themes of national priority in the area of QPS under which applicants focused their proposed research. The overarching theme for 2019 was Quality Improvement. 

Research proposals were invited under two sub-themes:

  • Effective Quality Improvement
    • Building evidence of novel approaches which increase effective Quality Improvement
    • Implementing Quality Improvement
    • Sustaining improvements in quality of care
    • Spreading effective Quality Improvement across healthcare sites
  • Building and Sustaining a Culture of Quality Improvement
    • Leadership for Quality Improvement
    • Teamwork for Quality Improvement across disciplines
    • Effective communication for Quality Improvement
    • Building Quality Improvement Capacity and Capability
    • Exploring how high performing services foster a culture of Quality Improvement

The theme for Cycle 7 will be announced early 2020.


RCQPS awards provide funding up to a maximum award value of €280,000 (inclusive of overheads) for projects. Quality permitting 2 awards will be funded each year, with funding secured for 2019 (Cycle 6), 2020 (Cycle 7) and 2021 (Cycle 8).

Prioritised projects from Cycle 6 will be announced early 2020 along with information regarding the launch of Cycle 7. Cycle 8 will be announced early 2021.


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.



Academic researchers and knowledge users interested in partaking in quality and patient safety research must register onto the RCQPS Database 

All those registered on the RCQPS Database will be contacted once Cycle 7 (2020) is open.

  1. Academic researchers and knowledge users interested in partaking in quality and patient safety register their areas of research interest and expertise on the RCQPS Database.
  2. Each Cycle begins with a Launch Event (Cycle 7 Launch Event yet to be announced). This event will be a networking opportunity for researchers and knowledge users for the new funding cycle. Research findings will have a direct impact on decision-making in the knowledge user organisation.
  3. Academic researchers and knowledge users that wish to collaborate on a research proposal submit a joint pre-application to RCQPS.
  4. Pre-applications are reviewed by a pre-application grant selection panel.
  5. Shortlisted pre-applications are invited to submit a full application to RCQPS. Feedback is given to all applicants.
  6. 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.
  7. Following review, two applications are recommended to the HRB for funding.
  8. 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:

  • Does this project address a quality and patient safety priority in Ireland?
  • Will the research design and methodology answer the research question?
  • Is there evidence that the collaborators (researchers, knowledge users and public and patient involvement) have developed a genuine partnership to deliver on the proposed project?
  • Is there real potential for translation of the findings into policy and/or practice

‘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 Darrin Morrissey

Chief Executive at the Health Research Board

Contact Us

General Enquiries to


Dr Stephanie Whelan

RCQPS Research Coordinator

Tel: 01 8639 610

Dr Stephanie Whelan joined the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in January 2019 as coordinator of the Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS) funding scheme,  a unique collaboration between the Health Research Board, the National Quality Improvement Team of the Health Service Executive and RCPI. A secondary role of Stephanie's within RCPI involves the coordination and administration of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland's Research Ethics Committee, having completed training in GDPR and HRR 2018. Stephanie holds a BSc in Biomedical Science and PhD in Translational Medicine from University College Dublin where her research focused on improving the lives of patients with pulmonary hypertension associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease through the investigation of potential new therapeutic targets. Her current research interests include patient safety and quality improvement.