John Yates (1978-2003)

John Yates (1978-2003)I was seconded to HSMC from a senior NHS management post in 1978. The initial secondment was for a two year period to help establish management training for clinicians and study for a Master's degree.

I transferred to a PhD degree supervised by Professor Derek Williams and studied the uses of routine data in the NHS. This led to the creation of a number of Performance Indicator packages that were widely used in the NHS during the 1980s and 1990s. At its peak the workload necessitated a full time team of 5-6 staff working in HSMC, but called Inter Authority Comparisons and Consultancy (IACC).

In parallel with thedevelopment of Performance Indicators, I took on a major study of NHS waiting lists and waiting times. Over a ten year period up to a dozen NHS and University staff undertook consultancy work aimed at reducing waiting times in hospitals. The work was commissioned by both local and regional authorities as well as the Department of Health. For a period, I was the government's advisor on waiting lists.

The research and consultancy work resulted in over 100 publications including three books, two of which gained the Baxter prize for European healthcare literature. One of the books, 'Private Eye, Heart and Hip', published in conjunction with two TV documentaries was a controversial examination of the abuse of the private/NHS workings by surgeons. The work was credited with being one of the chief factors leading to the revision of the consultant's contract. Despite initially upsetting a number of clinicians, managers and politicians, I was awarded the Naughton Dunn medal for distinction in orthopeadic surgery and an Honorary Professorship from the University of Birmingham.

HSMC provided a superb independent base with very strong academic support. Without such support and independence, the work on waiting times and the private/public interface would probably never have taken place. Thank you to all at HSMC. Particular thanks go to Professor Derek Williams for being prepared to take in hand an NHS manager whose only academic qualifications were 5 GCEs and whose application to study for a Master's had been rejected by one university because he was 'educationally subnormal'!

After spending 25 years at HSMC as a 'placebo academic', I retired in 2003. I still live in the Lickey Hills and can be contacted on jm.yates@virgin.net.