Helen qualified with MB BCH from the University of Wales College of Medicine in 1985. She completed the Cardiff GP vocational scheme in 1989, winning the regional syntax award and gaining a distinction in the MRCGP exam along the way. She worked as a partner in Lee Bank Group practice from 1990-2004, leading on delivery of the homelessness service and undergraduate medical student teaching.
Helen began her career in academic primary care at the University of Birmingham in 1995, through a part time fellowship sponsored by the RCGP Midland Faculty. She was then awarded a regional Sheldon fellowship followed by a nationally funded clinical scientist fellowship. Helen moved to take up a chair at the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre at the University of Manchester in 2006, becoming its deputy director in 2009. She returned to a chair in Birmingham in 2011.She continues to practice as a GP in the city, now in Eaton Wood in Erdington.
Helen’s research interests are focused on the areas of quality improvement, the development of primary care mental health and the interactions between research, policy and clinical practice. Her pragmatic service focused research during the past 15 years has been recognised through the award of the prestigious John Fry medal from the RCGP in 2005, the RCGP research paper of the year in 2005 and the RCGP James Mackenzie Lecture in 2012.
Helen is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:
Strategies to improve primary care mental health
Quality improvement in primary care
The Quality and Outcomes Framework
Early intervention in mental health
If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Helen on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: email@example.com| or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.
For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings
Quality improvement, primary care mental health, early intervention in psychosis
Quality and Outcomes Framework (2005-)
Perhaps the most significant element of Helen’s work in linking policy, research and clinical practice is her current role as an external contractor for NICE, responsible for the ongoing development of the Quality and Outcome Framework in primary care. This work has informed the best use of the 1 billion annual funding to improve patient care through implementation of the pay for performance scheme. The work of indicator development and piloting has led to a number of research papers in high impact factor journals as well as international invitations to speak about the work and advisory positions with the WHO and OECD. This work has had an impact in terms of quality improvement on every practice in the UK.
Primary care mental health
PARTNERS. (2007-11) Developing a chronic care model for people with serious mental illness. This project, funded by the National School for Primary Care Research, involved data collection about the quality of care received by 1150 people with serious mental illness in 64 practices across England. We are also undertaking a Cochrane Review of collaborative care for people with serious mental illness.
REEACT (2009-13). The Randomised Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Acceptability of Computerised Therapy. Lead site University of York. This multicentre randomised controlled trial is exploring the efficacy and cost effectiveness of cCBT for people with depression in primary care in comparison with anti-depressants.
SCIMITAR (2010-12) Lead site University of York. Smoking cessation for people with severe mental illness: a pilot study and definitive randomised evaluation of a bespoke service. This study will develop a 'bespoke smoking cessation' service targeted to meet the needs of those with SMI and will test the clinical and cost effectiveness of this approach in a randomised controlled trial.
Early intervention in psychosis
EDEN- this largely qualitative study (2003-6) was funded by the SDO and led to a series of papers describing the evolution and implementation of Early Intervention Services for young people with first episode psychosis, across the Midlands.
EDEN led to further significant funding from the Department of Health to evaluate the role out of Early Intervention Services nationally (National EDEN 2006-10). This study was a collaboration between the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Cambridge. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis and dissemination are underway.
In 2010, Max Birchwood (psychology) and Helen were awarded an NIHR Programme Grant (SuperEDEN) to follow up the National EDEN cohort for a further five years. The cohort is the largest cohort of young people with first episode psychosis in the world. The data is informing the shape of services internationally.
Lester HE,Khan N, Birchwood M, Jones P, Marshall M, Fowler D, Amos T, Birchwood M. (2011) Service users’ views of moving on from early intervention services: a longitudinal qualitative study. British Journal of General Practice (in press)
Lester HE, Campbell S, Hannon K. Identifying unintended consequences of quality indicators: a qualitative study. (2011) BMJ Quality and Safety in Health Care doi10.1136/bmjqs.2010.048371
Campbell S, Hannon K, Lester HE. (2011) Exception reporting in the Quality and Outcomes Framework: views of practice staff - a qualitative study. British Journal of General Practice 61:276-77
Lester HE,Birchwood M, Jones P, Marshall M, Fowler D, Khan N. (2011)The views of young people on Early Intervention Services in England. Psychiatric Services 62:882-7.
Lester HE, Schmitel J. Fireman B, Lee J, Campbell S. Selby B. (2010) The impact of removing financial incentives from clinical quality indicator. British Medical Journal340:c1898
Reeves D, Doran T, Valderas J, Kontopantelis E, Trueman P, Sutton M, Campbell S, Lester HE. (2010) Updating clinical performance frameworks: developing a rationale for removing indicators. British Medical Journal 340:c1717.
Mead N, Lester HE, Gask L, Chew-Graham C, Bower P. (2010) A meta analysis of befriending in the treatment of depression. British Journal of Psychiatry 196: 96-101.
Calvert M., Shankar A, McManus R, Lester HE, Freemantle N. (2009) Has the Quality and Outcomes Framework led to improvements in diabetes care in the United Kingdom?British Medical Journal 338:1366-70