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What are Gateway Reviews?

  • Last modified date:
    5 January 2011

What are Gateway Reviews?

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) developed the Gateway Project Review Process and introduced it across Central Civil Government as part of the Modernisation Agenda, to support the delivery of improved public services. The process has been operating since January 2001.

The Gateway review process is a series of short, focused, independent peer reviews at key stages of a project or programme. The reviews highlight risks and issues, which if not addressed would threaten successful delivery.

The reviews can be applied to all programmes and projects such as:

  • change programmes, including service and health economy reconfigurations, both at consultation and implementation stages, mergers and major internal change programmes;
  • procurement projects, including those that procure services, property, construction, IT-enabled business change and procurements using framework contracts;
  • policy development and implementation programmes

The reviews are carried out by a team of experienced people, independent of the project or programme team and chosen for their relevant skills; they are selected from a pool of over 300 accredited reviewers from within health and independent specialists.  All reviewers have to go through an accreditation process and training.

Reviews can take between 2 and 4 days and are usually undertaken by a team of 3 or 4 people, but each team is chosen to meet the requirements of the project or programme. The review team produces a report giving an overall assessment, summarised findings and recommendations. This is left with the senior responsible owner (SRO) of the programme or project at the end of the review before the team leaves.

The Gateway Project Review Process looks at a project or programme at six key stages in the life of the project and considers the readiness to progress to the next phase.

The six stages, or Gates are:

Gate 0 - Strategic Assessment
Gate 1 - Business Justification
Gate 2 - Delivery Strategy
Gate 3 - Investment Decision
Gate 4 - Readiness For Service
Gate 5 - Operations Review and Benefits Evaluation

Key Features of Gateway within Health

Gateway reviews are mandatory for all projects and programmes in the DH, ALBs and NHS organisations which are assessed as high risk and should also be used for those assessed medium risk.  A Gateway review is also required prior to public consultation when any service reconfiguration is proposed.

The Gateway review method, originally developed by OGC, is well proven and thousands of reviews have already been undertaken in many parts of the public sector.  In agreement with OGC the method has been adapted to make it more appropriate for use in the NHS and the Department of Health and ALBs.
In particular:

  • Gateway uses a “peer review” approach; it is not an audit or inspection and the process is undertaken in partnership with the project.
  • Reviewers with appropriate skills are assigned to the reviews. All have been through a rigorous accreditation process and have a very wide range of knowledge and experience within health, the wider public, and the private sector.
  • Reviews usually take between 2 to 4 days and do not require the project to provide anything additional or specific just for the review.  They are free for the project and internal costs should be small.
  • Over the last 7 years the use of Gateway in health has been developed and organised through the Health Gateway team based in Leeds.  Advice, support and where appropriate training, can be provided through the team.

The value of Gateway Reviews

Gateway reviews provide a valuable perspective on the issues facing the internal project team, and an external challenge to the robustness of plans and processes. The Gateway process provides support to SROs by helping them to ensure;

  • the best available skills and experience are deployed on the programme or project;
  • all the stakeholders covered by the programme or project fully understand the current status and the issues involved;
  • the programme or project can progress more confidently to the next stage of development, implementation or realisation;
  • achievement of more realistic time and cost targets for the programme or project.

Over the last 5 years more than 500 reviews have been carried out in health.  There are an increasing number concerned with service reconfigurations from relatively small and local up to regional changes. 

Other areas covered have ranged from technical reviews into NHS Mail and PACS implementations through major capital projects delivered through PFI and LIFT; various varieties of acute service reconfigurations involving site changes or hospital relocation; modernisation of mental health services; and integration of community based services into a new community hospital/care centre.  Almost every area of the NHS has been covered, and the lessons learned retained within the Health Gateway Team.

The number of reviews carried out is growing and in the last full year there were over 100.  The major issues found in these projects were:

  • failure to manage risk properly
  • inappropriate or ineffective governance and project structures
  • lack of suitable skills and/or resources for the project
  • project planning is reactive, at too high a level and too reliant on external information (eg from suppliers)

Additional links

Health Gateway news

Read the latest issue or archive copies of the Health Gateway news bulletin.

Contact us

Gateway reviews in the health sector are organised through the Health Gateway Team.


Frequently asked questions about Health Gateway Reviews.

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