This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Friday 26 November 2021
The NHS Business Services Authority

NHSBSA User Research Recruitment Capacity Call-off Contract

1 Incomplete application

1 SME, 0 large

3 Completed applications

3 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Friday 12 November 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 19 November 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 26 November 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Call-off contract - The NHSBSA require participant recruitment for regular user research activities. We are looking for suppliers who can recruit participants who reflect the diverse make-up of people who use NHSBSA and government services.
North East England
Research dates
Call-Off Contract from Jan 2022 until Jan 2024
Organisation the work is for
The NHS Business Services Authority
Budget range
There is no minimum committed spend over the term of this contract.

It is anticipated that the spend will be between £500,000-£1,000,000 over the duration of the contract.

To clarify the NHSBSA makes no commitment to any particular level of spend (actual spend agreed in SOWs) nor does it grant exclusivity to the selected supplier in respect of the services described in this opportunity.

About the work

Early market engagement
A pre-market engagement event was held on 3 August 2021 to provide all suppliers with more detailed background on the requirements. The information shared during the event are available here on request by emailing

About the research

Description of your participants
General public/patients
• People accessing health services from different demographics (varying socio-economic groups (specifically the lower-mid quartile), ethnic minority groups, non-native English speakers)
• People who use pharmacy services
• People who may use health services when abroad e.g. using services like UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC) or the UK European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC)
• People who struggle to afford the things they need to maintain their health e.g. paying for medication

Health professionals and staff
• Clinical staff working in the health service in the NHS e.g. primary, secondary care, tertiary care
• Non-clinical healthcare staff working at different organisational sizes
Assisted digital and accessibility requirements
Access needs
• Conditions affecting dexterity/mobility e.g. arthritis, MS.
• Low vision or registered as blind.
• Neurodiverse participants, e.g. dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia.
• Hearing loss or people who identify as d/Deaf.
• Use assistive tools for their devices or modify set-up for internet access e.g. screen readers, screen magnifiers.

Assisted digital needs
• Low confidence with online activity or using computers
• Use computers infrequently
• No device to access the internet
• Need help to complete an online application
• Willing to try/learn new things on a computer
• Need help from friends/family to carry out online tasks.
Research plan
The Contract will cover multiple research plans. The recruiter will be expected to adapt to new requirements as new plans emerge. Each recruitment will be Individually briefed for each round via SoWs.
Research location
There is no specific location.

Sessions could potentially be held remotely as well as face to face. Research may be held within the NHSBSA UR Lab at Bridge House in the centre of Newcastle. Some sessions could also potentially take place at Stella House in Newcastle if the location is suitable to the participant.

Depending on the successful supplier, some rounds may take place in other cities in the UK depending on where the supplier has available UR Labs to conduct sessions.
Access restrictions at location
Stella House is wheelchair accessible. Accessibility of each site will be considered on a case by case basis.
Number of research rounds
This is a Call-Off Contract. There will not be a set number of rounds.
Number of participants a round
The size of rounds will vary depending upon the research projects however most will involve 5 participants. The standard will be 5 participants per round however there will be circumstances where more or less may be required. The BSA have a need for spare participants to stand in for any cancellations.
How often research will happen
In line with agile methodologies, research will be required each 2 week sprint. There may be periods of several simultaneous requests, depending on project timelines and periods a potential contract will not be utilised at all. Suppliers must be flexible and able to cater for this. Participant lead times may vary as call-off may be for planned rounds or short notice needs.
Evening or weekend research
  • Weekday evenings
  • Weekends

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Suppliers who are shortlisted and then wish to submit proposals must register on the NHSBSA’s e-tendering solution which can be found at

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Demonstrate how your organisation works in line with agile methodology and is flexible in the research methods and contexts they can recruit for.(2%)
  • Demonstrate your experience working to short deadlines and sourcing participants for several briefs simultaneously.(2%)
  • Demonstrate experience in recruiting participants ethically and sensitively and in accordance with Data protection legislation. (1.5%)
  • Please detail what channels you use to recruit as well as examples of your existing networks. (1.5%)
  • Describe how your organisation maximises attendance from participants. (2%)
  • Demonstrate experience recruiting participants for both remote and face-to-face research as well as supporting remote participation over video conference. (2%)
  • Demonstrate ability to identify, contact, schedule and fully coordinate attendance of participants, including the provision of a suitable venue. (3%)
  • Detail how your organisation provides updates on recruitment progress to the customers stakeholders. (2%)
  • Describe how and when participant profiles are provided for review by the researcher in advance of the research session. (2%)
  • Evidence your experience of partnering with organisations that must adhere to strict standards similar to public sector organisation, to successfully recruit participants. (2%)
  • Demonstrate ability to recruit participants as described in 'Description of your participants' in particular members of the public and health professionals from different health organisations. (2%)
  • Evidence how your organisation secures value-for-money in incentivising participants and describe how and when you pay incentives. Detail the different ways incentives have been paid in your previous engagements.(3%)
  • Detail how your organisation checks participants , including how you replace dropouts and how you cover unsuitable participants. (3%)
  • Demonstrate how you comply with GDPR regulations and Data Protection principles on storing and processing participant data. (2%)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate your experience in recruiting people from hidden populations (Gypsy, Traveller Roma, Homeless, migrant workers).(2%)
  • Demonstrate you experience recruiting according to Covid-19 vaccination status.(1%)
  • Detail your established links and relationships with health/disability charities.(3%)
  • Demonstrate your ability to create, maintain and administer bespoke panels on behalf of clients and provide an example.(2%)
  • Please detail how you recruit participants working in partnerships with NGOs and Charities. (2%)

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Describe how you recruit participants that accurately meet a project recruitment specification, including an example. (2%)
  • Demonstrate how you will fulfill a recruitment request with a user with an accessibility need, requiring the use of assisted technology or use of alternative channel to access a service.(3%)
  • Demonstrate how you will manage the expectations of multiple researchers, to recruit participants across the country, for both remote and face to face sessions.(4%)
  • Demonstrate how you work within short deadlines to source participants for several briefs at the same time. (6%)
  • What processes are in place to assure clients/user researchers that the participants you have recruited are suitable for their research? (2%)
  • Provide an example when a participant you have recruited was not suitable or did not match the specification. Detail your actions to rectify it to meet the client's needs? (3%)
  • Demonstrate how you future-proof your service and ensure scalability to drive greater modernisation of delivery and increased productivity. (2%)
  • Detail your process, and provide an example, of how you build trust, gain credibility and build relationships to increase community, integration, trust and influence in relation to this contact.(2%)
  • Describe how your organisation undertakes educational attainment relevant to the contract, including training schemes that address skills gaps and result in recognised qualifications. (2%)
  • Demonstrate how your organisation works cohesively in meeting clients needs and how this aligns to the NHSBSA values. (2%)
  • Describe how you will ensure that opportunities under the contract deliver the Social-Value-Model-Policy-Outcome of 'Effective stewardship of the environment' and Model Award Criteria associated with this outcome. (2%)
Additional assessment methods
Case study
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence






Questions asked by suppliers

1. Can you share the premarket engagement information please.
Please find the link for the pre-market engagement.

For clarity there is no further information to share.
2. As a supplier where will I need to register if shortlisted to the second stage?
Suppliers who are shortlisted and then wish to submit proposals must register on the NHSBSA’s e-tendering solution which can be found at
3. Which scoring scoring methodology will be used. The standard DOS scoring Matrix or the NHS Business Services Authority scoring table?
This requirement this will be scored using the NHS Business Services Authority scoring table, not the standard DOS scoring matrix.
4. What is the NHS Business Services Authority Scoring Table?
NHSBSA scoring table.
Score Classification Criteria
0 Unacceptable Completely fails to meet required standard or
does not provide a proposal at all
1 Not Met Significantly fails to meet the standards required,
contains significant shortcomings in many areas
2 Partially Met Meets a number of required standards but falls
short of achieving required standard in a number
of identifiable areas
3 Mostly Met Meets the required standard in most(but not all)
material respects
4 Met Meets the required standard in all respects and
demonstrates a thorough understanding of the

Score of 2 or less will be deemed a fail
5. Clarification Question Deadline
In the interest of ensuring a successful outcome to this tender, the clarification deadline has been extended to noon 24 November 2021. Answers will still be provided by 25 November 2021.
6. It is understood that ‘some rounds may take place in other cities in the UK depending on where the supplier has available UR Labs’ – but is there a specific geographic area that contributors are required to be located or can they be from anywhere in England?
Will it be acceptable for contributors to solely contribute remotely ie via an online platform, or must the research be carried out in a UR lab?
There are no specific locations we would favour. We do not want to exclude participants from less populated locations solely because cities are easier for us to travel to.

In most instances, it would be ok for participants to participate exclusively remotely. We would like to work with suppliers on a request form that allows researchers to specify this for themselves on a case by case basis.

Suppliers should note that once we get back to proper face to face with no concerns over restrictions, we'd be open to anywhere in the country, as long as it was planned appropriately.
7. In relation to the above opportunity, can you please provide information that was shared as part of the pre-market engagement event.
Please find the link for the pre-market engagement.

For clarity, no further information was shared during this opportunity.
8. Research location - Is it your intention to hold the majority of face to face sessions in Newcastle? Can you please provide an indication of the intended ratio between face to face v remote (e.g 60/40 etc).
We will aim to not exclusively base ourselves in the North East for face to face research, as we do not believe we should exclude participants from other areas of the country. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to provide an intended ratio between face to face research and remote research, as we have not yet agreed our policy on returning to face face research. This is something we would be happy to keep a supplier informed of, as and when we reach an agreement on that policy.
9. Profiles – Do you anticipate focusing on specific groups or have a spread of profiles in each round? E.g. a round focused on people who struggle to pay for medication, a round focused on medical professionals who use a certain service, a round of general public that use online pharmacy services etc.
We anticipate a mix of the two (specific groups v spread of profiles) though with a slight focus on specific groups, as this is where we currently need more support from a supplier.