Frequently asked questions Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Health Foundation

What is your overall aim?

We want people in the UK to live healthier lives and have access to high quality health care. We believe good health and health care are key to a flourishing society. We learn what works and use what we know to try and help change things for the better.

The four main aims that guide our work are to: promote healthy lives for all, understand the quality of health and care, support health care improvement, and to make health and care services more sustainable. We will also continue to improve the way we use insights from our work to inform national policy on health and health care. Find out more in our strategic plan.

What do you do?

From giving grants to those working at the front line to carrying out research and policy analysis, we shine a light on how to make successful change happen.

And we make links between what we learn from working with people delivering care and our research and analysis. We want to create a virtuous circle, using what we know works on the ground to inform effective policymaking and vice versa. Through sharing lessons, working with others and building people’s skills and knowledge, we aim to contribute to a healthier population in the UK.

Read more in our strategic plan.  about the planned activities within each area of our work.

Why are you broadening your work to include promoting healthier lives for all?

Over the past few years, we have extended our strategy to look more broadly at the determinants of health, the factors that shape where we live, learn, work and play. We want to influence how decision makers think about the health of people living in the UK and what they can do to support everyone to live healthier lives.

For too long, discourse about health has been dominated by the access and availability of health care services. There is now broad consensus that the real determinants of health largely sit outside of health care and that a wider set of resources will need to be mobilised to maintain and improve health. With preventable illness widespread and health inequalities deep rooted, a radical update is needed to how governments approach the health agenda.

What do you mean by high quality health care?

For us high quality health care incorporates the six dimensions of the Institute of Medicine’s definition of health care quality. These state that health care must be:

  • safe
  • effective
  • patient-centred
  • timely
  • efficient
  • equitable

Find out more in our Quality improvement made simple guide.

Who do you work with?

We work with people from across the health and care system and beyond – from clinicians and managers through to the charity sector, patient representative organisations, academics, national bodies, local government and policymakers. We also work with people and organisations from around the world who have an interest in improving health and health care. We have more detail on the principles that govern who we work with.

How are you funded?

We are funded by an endowment - currently around £1 billion. This enables us to have an on-going programme of work, including making significant grants to bring about better health and health care.

The endowment began in 1998 with a one-off charitable donation of £560 million, one of the largest in UK history. The donation resulted from the sale of PPP Healthcare group, a private health insurance organisation. PPP was a mutual fund with no shareholders, and the new organisation became the PPP Foundation in 2001.

In 2003 the organisation was renamed the Health Foundation to signal its completely independent status as a grant-making charity. The Health Foundation has no connection to PPP and is accountable only to our independent board of trustees and the Charity Commission.

The size of the endowment means that we do not need to fundraise to generate income. We receive a small amount of funding from grants, commissions and from our co-ownership of the BMJ Quality & Safety journal and grants from other organisations.

We value our independence highly.

How does the Health Foundation invest its endowment?

Our investment policy is updated regularly. Our investment goal is to grow the endowment and to generate enough income to allow us to carry out our charitable activities.

Are you linked to any political party?

No, we aren’t linked to any political party and we are completely independent of the government. We do, however, work actively to inform the government’s (and other organisations’) development of policy by sharing the learning from our improvement programmes, and our research and analysis.

Do you have have a conflicts of interest policy?

We have a conflicts of interest policy to ensure that the decisions taken by the Foundation are independent of outside interests. Download our policy on conflicts of interest.

Do you work across the whole of the UK?

Yes. To find out more about the projects and people that we fund, browse our improvement projects or research projects by topic.

Do you do any international work?

We are interested in how we can use lessons from overseas to improve health and health care here in the UK. 

We support the Sciana network, an initiative bringing together outstanding leaders in health and health care policy and innovation across Europe. 

Can anyone apply for funding?

We have an ongoing programme of research, policy analysis and improvement project grants that people and teams can apply for. The application criteria vary between programmes so be sure to read the application documents carefully. Find out about our current funding opportunities or sign up to receive updates on new funding opportunities.

Do you fund individuals?

Yes, as part of our range of fully funded leadership fellowships to build skills and knowledge in how to improve health and health care.

Once you’ve given out funding, do you monitor the progress of the project?

This varies between programmes, but we ask individuals or teams to report back to us regularly about their progress. We also run independent evaluations of many of our programmes – these are published and available to read.

What resources do you have for people interested in improving health and health care?

We have a range of resources to help you in your work. These include:

What is your involvement in the BMJ Quality & Safety journal?

The Health Foundation co-owns the BMJ Quality and Safety journal with the BMJ Group.

The journal aims to advance research and generate new thinking in the areas of quality and safety of health care, and the science of improvement.

Do you have a regular newsletter?

Yes, we send out a monthly email newsletter. Each issue contains features, blogs and interviews based around a particular topic, as well as news items and our latest content.


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