'Mind the gap': the inaugural lecture of Professor Judith Smith

On Tuesday 3 May, the University of Birmingham was delighted to welcome some 200 guests to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts for the inaugural lecture of Professor Judith Smith, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of Health Services Management Centre (HSMC). Attendees included NHS trust chief executives, senior clinicians, policy makers and leading health services researchers.

Introduced by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jeff Bale, Professor Smith spoke about the need for closer integration of healthcare management practice and research. She started by setting out the difficult and unpopular nature of healthcare management, pointing to the high level of turnover in NHS executive posts that is similar to that of football managers.  Professor Smith then explored the role of the health services researcher, highlighting the ways in which assessment of performance – for example, through the Research Excellence Framework – can drive a focus on publications, conferences and peer approval, sometimes to the detriment of a deeper concern for research impact.

Professor Smith concluded her lecture by outlining  the challenges facing managers in relation to becoming more evidence-based, and researchers in embracing research impact as central to all they do.  This, argued Professor Smith, was essential to bring those in the field and in research together for mutual benefit.

After closing remarks by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Saul Becker, Head of the College of Social Sciences, who underlined the critical importance of research impact and engagement with the world of practice, guests and speakers were invited to a drinks reception in the gallery of the Barber Institute,  where discussion about how to bridge the gap between healthcare management and research continued into the evening.

Want to find out more? View our Storify of the event or watch the lecture for yourself.