The James Lind Alliance (JLA) is a non-profit making initiative, that brings patients, carers and clinicians together in Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs) to identify and prioritise evidence uncertainties or ‘unanswered questions’ in a particular health condition or setting. The aim of this is to help make sure that research funders are aware of the issues that matter most to the people who need to use the research in their everyday lives (www.jla.nihr.ac.uk).
JLA PSPs are characterised by following the method set out in the JLA Guidebook and are facilitated by one of the small team of JLA Advisers. JLA Advisers are independent consultants who support and guide PSPs as neutral facilitators, to ensure that the JLA process is followed in a fair and transparent way. There have now been over 75 completed PSPs, and in the UK and internationally there are about 30 PSPs currently active.
Since 2013, the secretariat of the JLA has been hosted by the National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, based at the Wessex Institute, University of Southampton. The work of the JLA secretariat includes recruiting and training JLA Advisers, helping prospective PSPs to prepare for the priority setting process, allocating Advisers to work with PSPs, managing JLA communications activity, and overseeing the external advisory group known as the JLA Community Group. Together with the team of JLA Advisers, the secretariat forms the JLA Executive, which oversees the JLA method as set out in the JLA Guidebook. The JLA secretariat also plays a role in liaising with other parts of the National Institute for Health Research, particularly in relation to the priorities generated by the PSPs.
The University of Southampton contracts with a small team of JLA Advisers in order to provide flexible capacity specifically for supporting PSPs. Procurement is through a framework agreement where there is no commitment on the part of the JLA or the University of Southampton for the amount of work provided.
The JLA secretariat is seeking to award a place on this University framework contract for a small number of additional JLA Advisers. There are currently four Advisers and one Senior Adviser and the aim is to recruit one or two more in this recruitment round. The amount of work that JLA Advisers undertake is variable depending on the number of PSPs that they work with, but could be in the order of 10 to 12 days a month once training is completed. We believe that this agreement is best suited to applications from individuals who are able to demonstrate availability and flexibility for their work with PSPs and with the JLA secretariat. To date, all JLA Advisers have been based in the UK.
Most PSPs take place in the UK but some PSPs take place outside of the UK (e.g. Canada). JLA Advisers will need to be prepared to support PSPs internationally. This warticular to chair and facilitate final priority setting workshops.