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. 

Professor Judith Smith introduces the BRACE Centre

Meet the team

Judith Smith, Director, BRACE Centre

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 Director of HSMC and 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.  Judith is also a Non-Executive Director of the Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a member of the board of Health Services Research UK.

 judith smith

Jo Ellins, Deputy Director of BRACE

Jo Ellins has over 15 years’ experience of leading applied health services research and evaluation for organisations across the public and charitable sectors. Jo’s main interests are around patients’ experiences and person-centred care, alongside which she has worked extensively on issues relating to whole system redesign, cancer policy and services, and integrated care. She has particular expertise in theory-based evaluation and in designing and conducting research in collaboration with people who use health services and the wider public, including the use of participatory and co-research methodologies. Since 2012, she has been a member of INVOLVE. 


Charlotte Augst

Charlotte is the Chief Executive of National Voices. Prior to joining National Voices in March 2019, Charlotte led the work of the Richmond Group for five years, developing strategy, facilitating discussions and representing the Group externally. She came to London in 1997, after completing a law degree in Germany, to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of London. She holds a PhD in law and medical ethics. Charlotte has held senior positions in health and research policy – in Parliament, for national regulators, and in the charitable sector. She has been a Trustee of Mosaic Clubhouse, a Brixton based mental health recovery charity, since 2015.


Jenny Bousfield

Jenny is an analyst at RAND Europe with research experience in a range of health and social care topics. Her research has focused on social inclusion, mental health, and health services research. Her Ph.D. explored gender and social inclusion in individuals with a diagnosis of psychosis. Her recent work includes the exploration of financial wellbeing initiatives for young workers with the Wellcome Trust, and the use of evidence by board members in NHS organisations, with The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS).

Jenny has also worked on a number of BRACE rapid evaluations, such as the evaluation of artificial intelligence technologies for social care. Jenny has extensive experience in recruiting participants to research through primary and secondary NHS services, as well as skills in quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research. This includes surveys, interviews, focus groups and stakeholder workshops. 

 jenny Bousfield

Katherine Cowan

Katherine Cowan is an independent consultant with expertise in multi-stakeholder consensus development. She is a key contributor to the James Lind Alliance method for involving patients and clinicians in setting priorities for health research and has facilitated over 40 Priority Setting Partnerships internationally, addressing a wide range of health and social care issues. Katherine has a background in qualitative research. 



Cathy Dakin

Working with the BRACE Centre Director and part of the Executive Team, Cathy is responsible for all general administration of the Centre and co-ordinating the activities of the BRACE Core Team, as well as the Steering Group and Health & Care Panel for meetings & workshops.


Ann Evans

Ann is a research administrator working with the BRACE team and has particular responsibility for supporting projects at the centre. 

Ann Evans

Sarah-Jane Fenton

Dr Sarah-Jane Fenton is a Lecturer in Mental Health Policy at the Institute for Mental Health (IMH).

The IMH is an interdisciplinary research centre with a specific youth mental health focus that will deliver high quality internationally relevant research to inform and impact upon public policy and practice and improve the care and outcomes for people experiencing problems with their mental health.

Sarah-Jane has particular expertise in youth, adolescence, mental health, health policy, realist and qualitative research.

Jon Glasby

Jon Glasby is a qualified social worker by background. Specialising in joint work between health and social care, Jon is involved in regular policy analysis and advice. He is the author of a series of leading textbooks on health and social services, sits on the advisory board of The Policy Press, and served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Integrated Care (2012-18).

Jon Glasby

Lucy Hocking

Lucy Hocking is an Analyst at RAND Europe with experience in public health, health improvement and innovation and health services research. These research studies were commissioned by a range of clients, including the UK Department of Health and Social Care, pharmaceutical companies and the European Commission. More specifically, Lucy has been heavily involved in a study exploring innovation in the NHS and how policy can best support and enable innovation to thrive. In addition, Lucy is currently managing a study commissioned by the Health Foundation evaluating the Q initiative.

Lucy has experience with a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including literature review, conducting and analysing interviews with a range of key stakeholders, developing in-depth case studies and designing and analysing surveys. Lucy has an MSc in Child Public Health from Swansea University and a BSc(Hons) in Biomedical Science from the University of Reading.


Richard Kirby

Richard Kirby is the Chief Executive at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC).

He joined Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as chief executive in March 2018, bringing 20 years of NHS management and leadership experience in Birmingham and the Black Country.  A graduate of the NHS Management Training Scheme, Richard began his career supporting the development of GP commissioning in Birmingham. After a series of posts in commissioning, strategy and performance management, he moved to Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust where he led the development of new models of care and service configuration changes initially as Director of Strategy and, then,  as Chief Operating Officer. Most recently Richard was chief executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for seven years leading the integration of hospital and community health services and building effective partnerships with stakeholders to support integrated care.



Brandi Leach

Brandi Leach is a Senior Analyst at RAND Europe with a background in health services and primary care research and evaluation. Her research interests include the health care workforce, inequalities in access and outcomes for vulnerable groups and the social determinants of health. Brandi holds a PhD in sociology.

Brandi Leach

Ian Litchfield

Ian Litchfield is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, with a background in occupational medicine and interests in health service delivery. He uses qualitative and quantitative research methods in the evaluation of service delivery interventions in both primary and secondary care. Ian leads the research group, Service Redesign in Primary Care and Hospital Settings with a particular interest in applying engineering principles in improving the quality and safety of care. He uses collaborative improvement methodologies, with a variety of stakeholders to design, implement, and evaluate strategies for improved health care delivery.

 Ian Litchfield

Gemma McKenna 

Gemma McKenna is part of the Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) team teaching on the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Graduate Programme (EGA). EGA focuses on delivering excellence in Leadership throughout the NHS through the critical components of patient centred care, diversity, equality and inclusion, and sustainable development of services and processes. Gemma’s role also encompasses research and evaluation, with particular interests in child and adolescent mental health and public access and usage of urgent and emergency care services, with particular focus on vulnerable groups.  


Jennifer Newbould

Jennifer Newbould has nearly twenty years’ experience in health services research, specialising in qualitative approaches.  Her research interests include primary care, patient experience and the evaluation of health interventions.  She recently managed an evaluation of telephone triage in primary care (for the NIHR) and has led the qualitative element of a number of evaluations including the evaluation of Q and Q Labs (for the Health Foundation) and the IMPROVE project on patient experience in primary care (for NIHR).


Sarah Parkinson

Sarah Parkinson is an Analyst at RAND Europe working in the areas of public health, healthcare and health policy. Her recent work includes a BRACE centre evaluation of primary care networks, which gathered early evidence on impacts, facilitators and barriers of these newly formed networks in England. She has also worked on studies around tobacco control and promotion for the European Commission, and studies on point of care testing and electronic health records for infectious disease surveillance and control for ECDC. Prior to joining RAND Europe, Sarah worked in the area of prescription opioids and prescription drug monitoring programmes in the US. She holds an MSc in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the same university.


Katie Saunders

Katie Saunders is a Senior Research Associate statistician in the Primary Care Unit at the University of Cambridge. She works in health services and primary care research, with a particular focus on applied statistical analysis and methodology, and the use of routine healthcare data in research and evaluation.


Manbinder Sidhu

Manbinder Sidhu is an applied social scientist with 10 years’ experience of health research with the NHS and Third Sector organisations. Manbinder’s background is in Sociology and he holds a PhD in Health Services Research. Manbinder’s research interests focus on patient experience and service evaluation, particularly interventions designed for people living with multiple morbidities.  


Kelly Daniel

Kelly Daniel is an Evaluation Fellow at the University of Birmingham and has seven years’ experience in managing applied health services research and evaluation for public sector and charitable organisations. Her research interests include person-centred care, health service delivery and patient and service user experience and involvement.




Stephanie Stockwell

Stephanie Stockwell is an Analyst within the Health and Wellbeing team at RAND Europe. Her research interests include lifestyle behaviours, health and wellbeing over the life course (particularly in children and older adults) and the use of technology in health. Prior to joining RAND Europe, Stephanie was awarded a scholarship to complete her PhD at Anglia Ruskin University where she investigated digital behaviour change interventions for physical activity and sedentary behaviour in socially isolated older adults. Stephanie has experience using a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, designing, conducting and analysing interviews and focus groups, and designing and analysing surveys. 

 Stephanie Stockwell

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 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. 


Denise Tanner

Denise Tanner is a Senior Lecturer on BA and MA Social Work courses.  Her areas of teaching and research interest include adult social work/social care policy and practice; social work with older people; social work skills; social perspectives of mental distress; and service user involvement in education and research. She has lead responsibility for Postgraduate Research students in the Department of Social Work and Social Care. 


Beck Taylor

Beck Taylor is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Institute of Applied Health Research, and is an Honorary Consultant in Public Health at the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. She has an interest in service design, policy and health systems, and a focus on evaluating maternity services, women’s health, and policy. She has skills in qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation and evidence synthesis, designing research which matches the method to the research question. As a public health doctor she is trained to think at population and system-level.


BRACE Centre Senior Research Administrators

The BRACE team is supported by two ‘critical friends’: Professors Russell Mannion and Mary Dixon-Woods. The critical friend role includes undertaking peer review of all project proposals, interim outputs and final reports, and supporting the BRACE team in reading across projects and themes and distilling wider learning on both a topic and methodological basis. They also attend the Centre’s steering group, in order that they hear discussions of the team’s plans and work by external PPI, academic and NHS service peers, and can connect this into the critical friend role they perform for the core team.