Frequently asked questions


Project idea

Project assessment


Can I apply for funding for an initiative that is just about service improvement, rather than the other criteria outlined in the guidance notes?

No. While service improvement is an overall focus of the Maternity Challenge Fund work, Round 2 focuses specifically on two new elements and how they might relate to improving the quality of care. Applications must consider one of the two main criteria and must think about how they might explore some of the key issues.

Main criteria:

  1. Make the best use of feedback given about individual clinicians or other named staff, for example, how FFT or other tools for gathering patient feedback could potentially contribute to such things as revalidation of clinicians, staff recognition schemes or individual staff performance management processes.
  2. Exploring the potential to attribute feedback to named patients where they choose to identify themselves, in pursuit of improving their individual care or finding out more about areas of concern.

Key issues:

  • The risks and benefits of identifying patients or staff.
  • The impact on existing feedback mechanisms.
  • The ethical and practical considerations of naming patients/and or clinicians.
  • How such information might be used to best effect.
  • How the work might be replicated and repeated in other areas.
  • Any effect on service improvement and patient care, on staff or on patients themselves.
  • The potential impact on equality and health inequalities.

The guidance notes suggest trialing initiatives that involve patients and/or staff being identified. Are there risks to this?

Initiatives that involve issues of personal information being shared need to be handled with care and sensitivity. We believe trusts are in the best place to test these ideas for us, working alongside staff and patients to explore the potential challenges alongside the potential benefits. We recommend involving relevant staff within the NHS trust, appropriate Royal Colleges and the trust Caldicott Guardian in any plans and subsequent applications.

Can I put in more than one application?

NHS trusts are able to put in more than one application if they wish. Projects will be judged based on their merits individually.

Will you accept my application without clear costing or timings included?

No.  All application forms need to be completed in full in order to be considered for funding. The application form and guidance give clear instructions on the content that needs to be provided.

We applied for funding for an initiative in Round 1 of the Challenge Fund, earlier this year. Can we resubmit the application?

The criteria for the two rounds are different; Round 2 has a more defined focus about the attribution of patient and/or staff feedback.  If your previous application meets the Round 2 criteria, then it can be submitted.  Please note the application form has been amended since Round 1, with the information required and presentation of that information differing. We would point out that individual feedback was given to most entrants who were unsuccessful in Round 1 and we would urge applicants to make good use of this in revising any application that has previously been submitted.

Is there anyone I can speak to for more information about submitting an application?

We are happy to take questions by email to and we will add the question and answer to this page so that everyone can see it. We are also offering the chance to take part in a webinar for potential applicants, where we will run through the guidance notes for applying and take questions.  Again, the information will be made available to everyone afterwards.  The webinar will be held on 27 October at 3.30pm.  To register for this session, please send an email – with Maternity Webinar in the subject line – no later than midday on 26 October to and provide the name, job title and email address of the person wishing to take part.

Project idea

Can our trust work with external contractors?

Yes, but the application must detail clear reasons why the external contractors are required for the project to be a success. However, the majority of the project must be undertaken by NHS staff and any contractors must be managed by the NHS trust project team – with costings for their inclusion clearly detailed in the application.

When would winners need to start the project?

Once the Maternity Challenge Fund panel have selected winners, the winners will be informed and will be asked to provide any additional information to NHS England so that a business case can be completed  for the project. Once the business case is approved, the project can commence. We expect this to be in early December, but cannot confirm exact timings at this stage. NHS Trusts must not start work or spend any money on the project before the business case has been approved.

Is there any flexibility over the timescales for producing the reports that the guidance notes describe as deliverables by the trust?

In order to meet the procurement and spending rules, certain conditions must be met by the deadlines we have set out so that the funding can be allocated to the successful trusts.

Project assessment

Are you planning to use patient feedback to evaluate performance by individual clinicians and other members of staff which is collected during the projects?

No.  NHS England does not need to see the feedback collected and who it is referring to but we are interested in the perceived value of it, if and how it might contribute to service improvement and/or how it might usefully contribute to any assessment of staff performance.  The successful initiatives will all be trialing something innovative and we are interested in the feasibility of these ideas.  The information will help inform thinking about how we can put patient feedback to best use.

What will the judging panel be looking for?

The application structure and questions asked mirror the criteria for scoring each application.  Applications should provide clear answers for each question and should provide a detailed timeline and budget. However, the application itself will only score well if the project idea clearly links to the aims and objectives of Round 2, and if it fulfils the eligibility criteria detailed in the guidance. Applications will be judged based upon the following categories (which are included in the application form):

  • Project rationale
  • Delivery method
  • Project management
  • Budget
  • Project outcomes
  • Sustainability

There is a checklist included on the last page of the application form which covers the key tasks that should be completed before submitting an application.

How many winners will there be?

That depends on the quality of the initiatives and how much funding is needed by those that our judging panel feels most closely match the brief.  We are aiming to fund two or more initiatives.