Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety

Doctor with patient

The Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS) is a unique collaboration between the Health Research Board, the Quality Improvement Division of the Health Service Executive and RCPI.

It was established in 2013 and is run from the Research Department in RCPI.

Doctor with nursing student

Our Focus: Quality and Patient Safety

We identify the most pressing issues affecting healthcare quality and patient safety in Ireland and allocate funding for research into these issues, knowing we can help drive improvements in quality and patient safety throughout the entire health system.


Our Vision

We want to drive improvements in healthcare quality and patient safety through research. We are working towards this by:

  • developing an Irish research network focused on quality in healthcare and patient safety
  • bringing researchers and clinical practitioners together to identify specific research questions that will improve patient care
  • prioritising research questions and allocating funding accordingly.

This partnership connects researchers and health professionals to make sure the right research questions about quality and patient safety are being addressed. Working together they will ensure that any new evidence generated is put into action for the benefit of patients and health care delivery.

Graham Love

Chief Executive at the Health Research Board

How We Work

As research funding goes, we operate a bit differently.

Instead of issuing calls for research proposals, we ask experienced doctors to tell us what research needs to be carried out.

This clinical input is essential to how we operate and is provided by doctors leading the National Clinical Programmes.

These doctors are at the forefront of large-scale national programmes working to improve quality, safety, reliability and cost effectiveness across a wide range of chronic diseases, outpatient services and acute hospital services.

They are ideally positioned to advise us on the most vital research questions that need to be addressed.

Other groups and agencies may also offer input into these questions, such as the Specialty Quality Improvement Programmes, National Office of Clinical Audit, the National Quality Improvement Programme, the Office of the National Director of Quality Assurance and Verification and the Clinical Indemnity Scheme of the State Claims Agency.

Developing Research Proposals 

Once research questions have been agreed, they are ranked in order of priority and matched to researchers who have the necessary skills and expertise and a genuine interest in healthcare quality and patient safety.

Then, we follow a step-by-step process to support the development of research proposals.

After an international peer review of submitted projects, the Health Research Board makes the final decision on funding.

Once funding has been approved, the research can begin.

To date, the total investment committed by the Health Research Board over the lifetime of the initiative has been €1.65million.

2017 RCQPS Quality and Patient Safety Symposium

The RCQPS Quality and Patient Safety Symposium will be held in RCPI on the 12th of January. This symposium will be an opportunity for the RCQPS and its sponsoring bodies to meet with the RCQPS-eligible programmes in order to reassert the focus of RCQPS and to establish the QPS needs of these programmes.

This symposium will be of use for the programmes in deciding on which QPS issue to focus in setting their research question.

Information from this symposium will be collated and sent to the programmes to aid them in determining their research question. In tandem with this symposium, representatives from the eligible programmes will be invited to participate in a complementary workshop

This is a separate event to the RCQPS Workshop scheduled for February 2017 and we encourage all programmes to attend both events.

If you are interested in attending the workshop please contact Brian Nolan at the contact details below.

Smiling Doctor.

2017 Funding Opportunities

The HSE and the Health Research Board recently agreed to fund the Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety for a further three years, pledging over €1.65 Million for quality and patient safety research.

We intend to put forward six projects to the HRB (three calls of two projects) for international peer review and potential funding. 

The HRB and HSE will award up to €280,000 per project. Projects are expected to be completed within two years from their start date.


Workshop for National Quality Improvement Division and National Clinical Programme Leads on 16th February, 2017

We are holding a workshop for the National Quality Improvement Division and National Clinical Programme Leads on 16th February, 2017.

Following the workshop on 16th February, 2017, the National Clinical Programmes and other eligible bodies will submit their research question for prioritisation and potential funding.

If you are interested in attending the workshop please contact Brian Nolan at the contact details below.

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

Dr Philip Crowley

Director of Quality Improvement Division, Health Service Executive

How Are Research Questions Prioritised?

We owe it to patients to allocate funding responsibly and ensure the maximum positive health impact.

Each research question is carefully assessed and scored.

We consider:

  • is the research related the work of the National Clinical Programmes or national Quality Improvement Division programmes? 
  • will the study lead to significant improvements in health or health services?
  • does the outcome matter to patients, families?
  • does the research have relevance to the multidisciplinary clinical team?
  • does the research have importance to current national healthcare issues?

Key Healthcare Issues Identified

We have agreed that the following healthcare issues will be prioritised for research:

  • healthcare efficiency
  • evaluation of quality improvements
  • patient experiences
  • interventions
  • prevention.

“Our role in developing and facilitating this research collaborative reinforces our commitment to improving real patient outcomes and underpinning the work of the National Clinical Programmes with an evidence base.”

Leo Kearns


Projects Approved 2013 - 2015

The first cycle of RCQPS projects were approved in December 2014.  Over €520,000 is being invested in these projects. The studies commenced in December 2014 and will be completed in early 2017.

The second cycle of RCQPS projects were approved in April 2015.  Over €520,000 is being invested in these projects. The studies commenced in October 2015 and will be completed in late 2017.

Emergency Department Monitoring and Clinical Escalation Protocol

This study will pilot a new monitoring protocol for patients in emergency departments to ensure the safe, timely and appropriate monitoring and management of adult patients from triage to assessment by a treating clinician, and until they leave the emergency department (ED).  The project is being led by Dr Conor Deasy, Department of Emergency Medicine at Cork University Hospital, with Dr Una Geary, as the National Clinical Lead.

Supporting Work Participation Through Early Intervention in Patients with Regional Musculoskeletal Pain

This project aims to develop an early integrated care intervention to improve quality of life and work participation for people with musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs). This project will be led by Dr Deirdre Desmond from Maynooth University in collaboration with Prof Pamela Gallagher, DCU. Prof Oliver Fitzgerald is the National Clinical Lead.

Making the Patient a Member of the Healthcare Team in Chronic Disease

This study aims to realise more fully the promise of patient-centred care in the management of complex chronic diseases, taking epilepsy as an example. The project will be led by Mary Fitzsimons, Principal Physicist, Department of Neurophysics, Beaumont Hospital / Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Dr Colin Doherty, National Clinical Lead for Epilepsy and Consultant Neurologist at St James’s Hospital.

What Are the Clinical Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Different Organisational Models of Community Specialist Palliative Care Provision in Ireland?

This study aims to provide better evidence to support the development of good models of palliative care in Ireland, comparing services, costs and measures of outcomes in three community palliative care services. The project will be led by Professor Charles Normand, Edward Kennedy Professor of Health Policy and Management at Trinity College Dublin and Dr Karen Ryan, National Clinical Lead for Palliative Care and Consultant in Palliative Medicine at St. Francis Hospice and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.

Members of the RCQPS Steering Group

RCQPS is governed by representatives from across Irish healthcare. Our Steering Group members are listed below. We meet every six months.

The Decision Making Panels that prioritise research questions are made up of Steering Group members and international independent external experts.

Mairie Cregan Patient Representative
Phillip Crowley (Chair) National Director Quality Improvement Division HSE
Áine Carroll HSE Director of Clinical Strategy and Programmes
Sarah Condell Department of Health - National Patient Safety Office
Richard Costello Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Eva Doherty Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Ellen O'Sullivan College of Anaesthetists of Ireland
Claire Collins Irish College of General Practitioners
Harry Kennedy College of Psychiatrists
Anne Flood Irish Association of Directors of Nursing and Midwifery
Irene Regan HSE Health and Social Care Professionals Research Group
Dubhfeasa Slattery Clinical Indemnity Scheme
Donna Tedstone Health Research Board Observer / RCQPS Joint Executive Committee
Michael Carton HSE/ RCQPS Joint Executive Committee
Lucia Prihodova RCPI/ RCQPS Joint Executive Committee
Peter Lachman National Quality Improvement Programme
Jennifer Martin Specialty Quality Improvement Programmes
Collette Tully National Office of Clinical Audit
To be confirmed Office of the Director of Quality Assurance and Verification

Contact Us

For further details on the RCQPS please contact us.


General Enquiries

Tel: +353 1 8639 646

Contact us at these details if you have any questions about the Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety