This invitation to tender is now closed.

  • We are seeking an evaluation partner to undertake an independent evaluation of a UK-wide NHS Anchors Learning Network. 
  • The NHS Anchors Learning Network is a joint programme with the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement. 
  • We anticipate bids up to a maximum of £50,000 (inclusive of VAT and expenses).  
  • Deadline for responses is 12.00 on 3 September 2020. 

The proposal to develop an NHS Anchors Learning Network follows the publication of Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor institution and the NHS Long Term Plan in 2019, both of which highlight the role of the NHS as an anchor institution.  

What are anchor institutions? 

Anchor institutions are large, (usually) public sector organisations that are unlikely to relocate and have a significant stake in a geographical area – they are effectively 'anchored' in their surrounding community. They have sizeable assets that can be used to support local community wealth building and development, through procurement and spending power, workforce and training and use of buildings and land. 

About the NHS Anchors Learning Network 

The Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement have been working in partnership to design a joint programme of work to enable the spread of ideas, knowledge and capability so that NHS organisations can adopt and apply anchor strategies in practice. 

The UK-wide network will support learning between those already implementing anchor approaches in NHS organisations, to build skills and catalyse focused action in specific places or across themes of work (for example procurement practice). 

The Health Foundation is now seeking to appoint an evaluation partner to undertake a two-phased formative and independent evaluation of the NHS Anchors Learning Network. The evaluation will provide feedback on how the NHS Anchors Learning Network is meeting its objectives to inform the ongoing design and delivery of the Network. 

In the first phase, delivered over a four-month period, we expect the evaluation partner to: 

  • scope and design a formative evaluation for the NHS Anchors Learning Network
  • capture valuable learning for the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement. 

The second phase will see the evaluation partner deliver the formative evaluation of the NHS Anchors Learning Network over two years.  

We wish to work with the same evaluation partner (or consortium) during both phases of the evaluation. The Health Foundation is also seeking to appoint a support partner to co-design and deliver the NHS Anchors Learning Network. The evaluation partner will work closely with the support partner throughout the programme.  

The successful team will be required to start at the end of October 2020 and to provide support for the programme until the end of the contract in January 2023. 

How to apply

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please go through the following steps to complete your application. 

1. Important supporting information

All applicants must read the Invitation to Tender in full before completing the online application form.

2. The application form

All applications must be completed and submitted via our online system AIMS.

You need to first register on AIMS before you can complete the online application form. It is important that you register as your organisation rather than as an individual. Please include the contact details for the person you wish to be the primary contact for your application.

Full guidance on accessing, completing and submitting your application via AIMS can be found in the Applicants user guide. We recommend that you keep a copy of this manual to hand to refer to while you complete your application.

3. Deadlines

The deadline for online applications is 12:00 on Thursday 3 September 2020. We will not accept late submissions.

We intend to interview shortlisted bidders on 6 and 7 October 2020 to explore proposals in more depth. Please ensure you are available for interview on these dates. We expect to inform applicants of our final decision by 14 October 2020. 

Please note: If you have any queries about the programme or application process, email

Further reading


NHS Anchors Learning Network


A partnership between the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement to develop a UK-wide...

Invitation to tender

ITT: Support partner for the design and delivery of an NHS Anchors Learning Network

Invitation to tender

We are seeking a supplier to support the design, development and delivery of a UK-wide NHS Anchors...

Research report

Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor institution

August 2019
Research report

Our new report explores the ways in which NHS organisations act as anchor institutions, and their...

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