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, Director, HSMC

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. 


Jo Ellins resized

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.

Charlotte Augst

Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball is a senior analyst at RAND Europe, working in the area of health and healthcare. Sarah’s key research interests lie in the field of health services delivery, with a particular focus on research and evaluation in the primary care setting.   


Sarah Ball

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. 



Katherine Cowan

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.


richard kirby


Jennifer Newbold

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).

Jennifer Newbold

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.

katie saunders

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.  

manbinder sidhu

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. 


Jon Sussex

BRACE Centre Research Administrator

Cathy Dakin

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.