Research and Evaluation in HSMC

HSMC is renowned for producing high quality and high impact inter-disciplinary research and evaluation in health policy and management, and related fields.


HSMC's main research is organised around seven broad themes, find out more:   

Healthcare Leadership

Leadership is a complex and ever-evolving phenomenon, and is central to all aspects of designing, improving, managing and innovating in healthcare environments. 

Healthcare leadership has both a theoretical foundation and exists as applied practice. There is a growing awareness that effective leadership creates environments where people can flourish, and in so doing improve both clinical outcomes and patient or service user experience. At HSMC, our work around healthcare leadership encompasses research and evaluation, delivering accredited programmes for the NHS Leadership Academy, and forming strategic partnerships locally, nationally and increasingly internationally. 

Our work in this area aims to both learn more about and promulgate great leadership in healthcare. Leadership is the foundation upon which every aspect of good healthcare practice, be that clinical or managerial, is based. We are all, in some form or other, leaders; and we all have stories, for better or worse, about leadership.

Contact: Steve Gulati 

Our research


Policy, Reform and Analysis

Our work in this area includes both research for policy and research of policy, from the national/ system level to the organisational level. In particular, we focus on the stages of health policy including policy formulation, implementation and evaluation.

In our policy work, we collaborate with a range of regional and national health and care organisations in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors, in order to maximise the impact and reach of this activity.

HSMC seeks constantly to act as a bridge between research and practice. Our policy work is a key part of this process, and includes:

  • research-based workshops and seminars for senior NHS leaders;
  • briefings on new and emerging policy ideas;
  • round table research discussions for policy makers;
  • analytical support and advice to health service organisations; and
  • regular series of Viewpoint articles on current health and social care topics on the HSMC website. 

Contact: Russell Mannion

Our research

Current and recent research projects include:

Members of this theme

Strategic Planning and Decision Making

Our work in this area focuses on the ways in which decisions are made and services are strategically planned in a context of financial pressures and multiple goals. 

It covers topics such as:

  • The challenge of achieving equitable health care access and outcomes and the role of evidence in this.
  • The commissioning and/or strategic planning function as a means of securing desired health care outcomes for populations.
  • The role of public and other engagement activities in priority setting in health and care.
  • The challenges of decommissioning medicines, services and health care organisations.

To this end, HSMC works to develop theory, empirical understanding and practical wisdom on the theme of decision making and strategic planning. This means collaborating nationally and internationally with academic, policy and practitioner partners.

Contact: Iestyn Williams

Our Research

Current and recent research projects from this work area include:

Members of this theme

Service and Quality Improvement

The core focus of clinicians, practitioners, managers and organisations is how best to improve the support that they provide to patents and their communities.

Over recent years it has been recognised that in addition to delivering better outcomes, health and care services must also address the other ‘triple aims’ of increasing health equality and ensuring that resources are used efficiently.

There is now considerable evidence and theory regarding service improvement and the translating knowledge about what works from research into practice. Despite this accumulated wisdom, health and case services can struggle to successfully introduce and sustain improvements in the longer term.  Working across professional, service and organisational boundaries is a particular challenge.

The difficulties are many – competing priorities, unreceptive cultures, lack of resources, insufficient improvement skills and fragmented thinking. So too though are the solutions, and with careful planning, design and delivery it is possible to achieve benefits for the long-term.

Contact: Dr Ross Millar 

Our research

Recent and current projects include:

Previous research

Members of this theme 

Participation, Involvement and Engagement

Our work in this area addresses the key concepts, approaches, challenges and opportunities in negotiating the relationship between health and social care as it is provided, and as it is experienced by people, patients and communities.

Governments in many countries are encouraging greater involvement of patients and the public in health care decision-making in the belief that services will be more accessible, acceptable and effective if the people who use them are involved in their planning, design and delivery.

Moreover, the experience of people using a service is increasingly recognised as a critical dimension of health care quality, and efforts to understand and improve that experience are longstanding within the NHS and many other health systems internationally.

Contact: Professor Nicola Gale

Our research

Current and recent research projects focusing on the experiences of patients and members of the public include:

We involve patients and members of the public in our research as co-researchers, as advisors, as representatives, as participants, and as a key audience for our findings.

Members of this theme

Workforce and Professions

HSMC undertake research, teaching and evaluation issues of the health/ care workforce as they relate to the nature of work, its organisation and its delivery. It is through staff that the triple aims of health care (improving access, enhancing quality and controlling costs) are put into practice.

We develop a close understanding of the lifeworlds of health and care workers. Our research, evaluation and teaching explores the power and social structures affecting the professional lives of healthcare workers, as well as the organisational and professional cultures they are embedded in.

Contact: Mark Exworthy or Nicola Gale

Our research

These are current and recent research projects focusing on the knowledge and practices within the health sector workforce, staff experiences, motivation and impact, the organisation of work, as well as the professions and careers within the sector:

Members of this theme

Doctoral Researchers

  • James Brackley
  • Julie Werrett
  • Chris Gowing
  • Michael Burrows
  • Adekemi Sekoni
  • Liam Spalding

Our Evaluation Work

Our approach to undertaking evaluations in health and social care is underpinned by four principles: 

  • The outcome is co-designed: with stakeholders, then results in more robust and relevant findings. 
  • There is meaningful involvement: meaningful, valued and well supported stakeholder involvement is central to the Stakeholder engagement. 
  • Our work together is reflexive and developmental: to give space and time to consider findings as they emerge, reality check assumptions, and offer a critical eye.
  • Building working relationships: to add capacity and value to the existing expertise of the organisations we work with.

HSMC is also the lead for the BRACE Centre (The Birmingham, RAND and Cambridge Evaluation Centre), a NIHR funded centre carrying out rapid evaluations of innovations in health service organisation and delivery.

Latest research publications

Alich, A 2023, Shamanism: what you need to know about the fastest-growing ‘religion’ in England and Wales . The Conversation , UK. <>

Allen, K, Burn, E, Hall, K, Mangan, C & Needham, C 2023, '‘They Made an Excellent Start…but After a While, It Started to Die Out’, Tensions in Combining Personalisation and Integration in English Adult Social Care', Social Policy and Society, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 172-186.

King-Hill, S 2022, #theLateLateLunchshow - Rod Maxwell - special report by Isobella Timpany on Cyber Flashing - 8_04.. <>

View all Health Services Management Centre publications in research portal

To disseminate it's work, the Health Services Management Centre also produces viewpoints 

Contact us

For more information on our research, contact:

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