About us

The BRACE Centre was launched in June 2018. Focusing on innovations in health service delivery and organisation, our evaluations examine not only what works, but also how and why things work (or don’t) and in what context. Our approach is both rapid and thorough, and we aim to produce rigorous, timely and useful evidence which can inform the transformation of services and outcomes across the NHS.  The Centre was commissioned for a further five years in October 2023 following the award of £3million funding from NIHR.

Meet the team

Justin Waring, Director of BRACE

Justin Waring specialises in evaluating the implementation and sustainability of complex innovations in the organisation and governance of health and care services. Over the last twenty years, he has investigated a vast range of service innovations including those that aim to foster organisational learning and patient safety improvement, the re-design of care processes and pathways, the utilisation of public-private partnerships for service modernisation, technological innovations in prescribing, and the implementation of large-scale system changes. His evaluations successfully combine robust and rigorous research design methods that reflect the evidence needs to partners, together with relevant social science theories that provide advanced explanatory reasoning for the variable uptake and effectiveness of complex innovations. He is Professor of Medical Sociology at the Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham and Visiting Professor at the Department of Public Administration University of Gothenburg, and Fellow of the Royal Society or Arts and the Academy of Social Sciences.


Manbinder Sidhu, Deputy Director of BRACE

Manbinder Sidhu is an Associate Professor at the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre. His research focuses on evaluating new models of delivering primary care general practice services. His most recent work has explored the process of hospital trusts taking over the running of primary care services. 


Cathy Dakin, Centre Manager

Cathy has worked with BRACE since 2018 and is part of the Executive Team. Responsible for the general day to day running and administration of the Centre, she co-ordinates the activities of the BRACE Core Team and Steering Group and supports the advisory panels, events and workshops.


Jon Sussex

Jon Sussex is Chief Economist at RAND Europe and Co-Director of the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research (a collaboration between RAND Europe and the University of Cambridge). He is a health economist with 30 years’ experience in research, rapid evaluation and consultancy in health sector economics and policy in the UK and internationally. Before joining RAND Europe, Jon was Deputy Director of the Office of Health Economics (London), a management consultant at Deloitte and Touche, and health economic adviser at HM Treasury.


Jennifer Newbould

Jenny Newbould is Research Leader at RAND Europe in the Health and Well being research group.  She specialises in primary care including the doctor-patient relationship and alternatives to face to face consultation in primary care.  Jenny has a particular interest in patient experience and in involving patients and the public in research. She is part of the Cambridge Centre for health services research, and the BRACE co-lead for PPIE; she has a BSc in Sociology (University of Guildford) and holds a PhD from University of London. Her recent projects include children and young people’s mental health, digital first approaches in primary care for patients with multiple long-term conditions, deimplementation of paediatric early warning scores in secondary care and digital facilitation in primary care.


Kate Morley 

Katherine Morley is a Senior Research Leader and Deputy Director of the Health and Wellbeing research group at RAND Europe. Prior to joining RAND in 2019, Kate spent over 15 years conducting health and medical research in the academic sector in both Australia and the United Kingdom, most recently as a member of faculty at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience. Her areas of research are the intersection between healthcare and non-health sectors (e.g. the criminal justice system, transport infrastructure), and how complex interventions can be evaluated through the analysis of pre-existing administrative data. She is currently joint-Principal Investigator for two large-scale evaluations: the Wellbeing Impact Study of High-Speed 2, a 10-year study of the impact of the HS2 rail development on the mental health and wellbeing of surrounding communities (NIHR132761), and the evaluation of the 10-year Drug Strategy investment in the treatment and recovery system in England (NIHR205228). 


Judith Smith

Judith Smith is a widely published health services researcher and policy analyst, with a particular interest in how to bridge the worlds of research, management and practice. Judith’s research focuses on the organisation and management of primary and integrated care, evaluation of new models of care, and organisational governance. Judith has been Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of Birmingham since June 2015, prior to which she spent six years as Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust, an independent charitable research foundation in London.  She was Director of the BRACE Centre from 2018-2013 and is now the Methodology and Quality Assurance Lead for BRACE.  Judith is Director of Health Services Research with Birmingham Health Partners, Deputy Director of the NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme, and Trustee and Deputy Chair of Health Services Research UK

judith smith

Jo Ellins

Jo Ellins has 20 years’ experience of leading applied health services research and evaluation for organisations across the public and charitable sectors. Jo’s main interests are around people’s experiences of using health services and person-centred care. Alongside this she has worked extensively on service and programme evaluations in diverse fields including youth mental health, cancer, primary care and integrated care. She is a foremost a qualitative researcher and has particular expertise in co-produced research, theory-based evaluations and rapid methodologies.

Tina Coldham

Tina has worked in the voluntary sector, across disability, in academia, and with regulators and statutory organisations as a trainer/lecturer, researcher and involvement consultant. Tina has held various leadership positions; as Chair of the NIHR INVOLVE Advisory Group; as a trustee for the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) whilst also chairing their Co-Production Network; a former Director of HASCAS, who conducted MH service reviews and homicide investigations. She has enduring mental health problems, having used mental health services over many years and becoming a user activist through setting up local self-help groups, to being the Chair of the National Survivor User Network having led this from the planning stage to independence. She now advises the Centre for Engagement and Dissemination at NIHR on all thing Participation, Involvement and Engagement (PIE)! Her love of survivor-controlled research means we can hold truth to power in the hope of making positive changes. 


Richard Kirby

A graduate of the NHS Management Training Scheme, Richard began his career working in primary care in Birmingham. Richard’s first chief executive post was at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, an integrated provider of acute and community services. Richard was appointed Chief Executive of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2018 where he is building partnerships to deliver integrated community services. Richard is vice-chair of the Community Network and a Fellow of the Sciana Health Leaders Network.  




Graham Martin

Graham Martin is Director of Research at The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS Institute), funded by the Health Foundation to develop the evidence base for improving healthcare quality and safety, and one of BRACE’s partner organisations. He has long experience of qualitative and mixed methods research and evaluation in health and care, particularly the evaluation of complex and organisational interventions to improve processes, quality and outcomes. His research uses social scientific methods and theory to improve understanding of organisational change, and particularly the influence of professionals, policy makers and service users and the public on efforts to improve the quality and safety of care. Recent studies include a PRP-funded policy evaluation of interventions to improve openness in the NHS following the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry, various rapid evaluations of changes to service configurations during the Covid-19 pandemic, and an ongoing formative evaluation of the new Patient Safety Specialist role in NHS organisations in England.

Sharon Brennan

Sharon Brennan is Director of Policy and External Affairs at National Voices. Prior to joining she was the Senior Policy Manager at the Taskforce for Lung Health developing their integrated care strategy, and Taskforce priorities for the year ahead.  Previously she worked as the Health and Integration Policy Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, responsible for the strategic and operational direction of health policy at the charity. Before moving into the charity policy sector in 2021, Sharon was an award-winning senior correspondent at the Health Service Journal leading on integration, integrated care systems, commissioning and social care reform. She also acts as an advisor to the Department of Transport on the accessibility of UK travel.


Katherine Cowan 

Katherine Cowan is an independent facilitator and priority setting methods expert with a long track record of involving patients and the public in research. She was Senior Adviser to the James Lind Alliance from 2008-2023 and has facilitated over 100 research priority setting processes internationally, addressing a wide range of health and social care issues. Katherine has a background in qualitative research and has provided in-house facilitation support to the BRACE team since 2018.


Matt Bennett

Matt Bennett is a Professor of Social policy in the School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham. His expertise in understanding inequalities and wellbeing outcomes, and how these vary over the life course and place, by linking and analysing large-scale surveys and administrative datasets using advanced statistical methods. (e.g. multilevel, panel and structural equation models). This research has contributed to the development of social care evidence and directly informed policy and practice. This research has been collaborative as part of multidisciplinary and multimethod programmes and typically explores objective and subjective health inequalities of people affected by care and caring, in partnership with other academic and practice colleagues.