Scoping Document

Research should provide new evidence which supports extant or alternative methodologies for complying with guidance by more effective or efficient means.

Research submissions should help ensure that guidance produced, advice given, and practice advocated is based not only on best practice but also on best evidence.

Supporting Information & Guidance

You can review some recently completed work progressed through NHSScotland Assure and gain further detail on the Guidance produced through NHSScotland Assure at the links below. Where appropriate, please reference the relevant guidance in your application.

Research portfolio | National Services Scotland (

The research portfolio provides an overview of research previously commissioned by NHSScotland Assure. These resources provide insight into the needs for the research commissioned, what it set out to achieve, the potential impact on existing guidance and more.

Health Facilities Scotland (HFS) Technical Guidance

NHSScotland Technical Guidance is, in its simplest form, a methodology or series of recommendations which allow NHS Health Boards to comply with their statutory duties. For example, Building Regulations, British Standards, Health & Safety at Work Act, Workplace Regulations, Health & Social Care Act and Health & Safety Executive Guidance.

HFS Guidance Index | National Services Scotland

The HFS Guidance Index provides a complete list of all HFS Guidance Publications.

National Infection Prevention & Control Manual (NIPCM) Clinical Guidance

NIPCM is a practice guide for use in Scotland. When used, it helps reduce the risk of Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) and ensure the safety of those in the care environment – those being cared for, as well as staff and visitors. 

Key Themes

Healthcare built environment research is multi-disciplinary and as such there is a need to develop and support a collaborative approach to research to enhance the available evidence base and make recommendations.

Funds are available for research aimed at improvement of risk management and quality in the healthcare-built environment across NHSScotland. Progressed research will seek to minimise risk in our healthcare buildings and environments, protecting patients from the risk of infection, and supporting better outcomes for patients in Scotland.

The NHSScotland Assure Research Service has identified key research themes which require further evidence to enhance patient safety, reduce risk or harm and inform national Guidance and SME (Subject Matter Expert) advice.


Further detail on the themes below and how they relate to the guidance produced by NHSScotland Assure can be found within the guidance documents linked above. Please refer to the themes below and relevant guidance in your application. If you are uncertain as to whether a potential application fits within the scope/themes, including applications that may fit the spirit of the of the scope but are not directly referenced, please contact the funding team at Edinburgh Napier University for further guidance. We would like to minimise effort being made on applications which are not in scope.


All applications should consider the multifactorial nature of the built environment and topic areas might, for instance, include reducing the risk of infection arising from microbial transmission within healthcare water or ventilation systems or impact of secondary disinfection methods on pipework materials. Please note that any examples provided are only illustrative.


  • Design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of water systems including drainage
  • Ventilation

  • Design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of Ventilation systems
  • Microbiology 

  • Pathogens, the microbiome, AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance), transmission risks and burden of disease in the hospital environment
  • Hospital Design

  • Hospital design including size and single room provision, e.g., hand wash basin provision / waterless / surface design to reduce transmission
  • When considering hospital design studies may look at how design can facilitate the breaking of transmission, design of environmental surfaces and medical equipment including maintenance and monitoring needs, design and positioning of sinks, their use and quantity and how these can be adapted to meet the needs of patients/ population in the healthcare environment.

    Additionally, proposals may consider the in-use performance of building and information gathering, role of informatics and risk modelling to support reduction of risk and increased knowledge regarding the healthcare estate.

    Built Environment

  • The built environment post-pandemic and lessons learned from COVID-19
  • Human Factors

  • Human factors & Ergonomics and Infection Prevention and Control in hospital design and the built environment and how it is used
  • Climate Change

  • Climate change requirements and the unintended consequences on built environment risks
  • When considering climate change requirements and unintended consequence, applications should for example consider the conflict between sustainability targets and climate change requirements on practice e.g., infection prevention & control which may be more energy intensive and consider how these needs are fulfilled whilst meeting sustainability targets

    Safety and Harms

  • The role of safety and harms in relation to medical gases, electrical systems and fire safety, and their impact on patient and staff safety in the hospital environment.
  • Applications should fit the following criteria:

    • Applications are sought for individual projects or inter-related projects that together can have a high level of direct impact to address improvement of risk management and quality in the healthcare-built environment across NHSScotland in relation to the identified themes.
    • Applications should have a well-defined focus, related to the themes indicated above. The fund will prioritise research which falls within the categories of applied research and experimental development, as detailed in the Frascati definition of research.
    • Applications should demonstrate how the proposed research would have an impact on NHSScotland advice and Guidance.
    • Applications should provide a strong case for the research programme, demonstrating the value, importance, and potential impact of the research to improve the management of risk and quality in the healthcare-built environment across NHSScotland.
    • Applications should clearly demonstrate how organisations that may use the research findings have/ will be engaged in the design and conduct of the research.
    • Applications should justify the added value of a coherent programme of inter-related projects (if appropriate).
    • Applications should take cognisance of the multifactorial nature of the healthcare-built environment and should ensure collaboration and involvement of relevant expertise which supports understanding of the wider impact of intended research.
    • This scheme is open to applications addressing outlined themes, provided a clear and strong justification for the importance of the research and its potential for impact are presented.
    • Projects should have a maximum lifespan of 2 years.
    • The funding amount limit is £300k. Please refer to the costings section of the Guidelines to complete the Application Form (V5) Guidelines for the Application Form V5 for more information regarding costings.
    • Should an application require funding greater than £300k please contact the Edinburgh Napier University team at

    Out of Scope

    • Research which does not directly impact NHSScotland Assure advice and Guidance and practice.
    • Applications which seek scale up or adoption of an innovative product across NHSScotland.
    • Studies that duplicate or overlap with other on-going studies (unless there is a strong rationale for replicating research in the Scottish context).
    • Sole applications over £300k.
    • Research proposals with a lifespan in excess of 2 years from receipt of funding.

    Applicant Information

    Applicants can access the Application Form and associated Guidelines from the  main webpage along with information such as closing dates, who can apply, etc.


    Further information is available in the Additional Information for Applicants document. This can also be accessed from the main webpage and will provide information on processes from enquiries to right to reply and how funded research will be managed.