This invitation to tender is now closed.

  • We are seeking a supplier to support the design, development and delivery 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 £300,000 (inclusive of VAT and expenses). The award for the contract of the design of the network is no more than £50,000, and the award for the contract for the delivery of the network is no more than £250,000.
  • Deadline for responses is 12.00 on Wednesday 5 August 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 a supplier with the expertise necessary to support the design, development and delivery of the Learning Network. We expect the appointed supplier to: 

  • lead and facilitate a co-design process for the Learning Network, working with the Health Foundation, NHS England and NHS Improvement and potential network members. This should include a series of activities to engage wider stakeholders and ensure the network meets the needs of both commissioning organisations and network members. 
  • deliver the network for two years including member engagement, event design and facilitation, coordination of virtual activities (if appropriate), communications activities to support the spread and scale of learning and overall management of the network. 
  • consider social value throughout the design and delivery of the work outlined in this tender. 

The supplier may include a partnership of organisations or individuals, but the tender must come from one lead organisation. 

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

We held an information call about the Invitation to Tender on 21 July 2020. For further information, please see the presentation and supporting information from the call. 

You can read our FAQ document for more information about the ITT, the role of the support partner, and the design and delivery of the Learning Network. 

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 Wednesday 5 August 2020. We will not accept late submissions.

An information call will take 15:00–16:00 on Tuesday 21 July 2020. Please email for more details. 

We intend to interview shortlisted bidders on 2 and 3 September 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 9 September 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...

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...


The NHS as an anchor institution


How can NHS organisations act as anchor institutions in their local communities and positively...

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