Professor Martin Powell

Professor Martin Powell

Health Services Management Centre
Professor of Health and Social Policy

Contact details

School of Social Policy, HSMC
Park House
University of Birmingham
B15 2RT

Martin joined HSMC in February 2007. Martin specialises in: Health policy, especially choice and consumerism; decentralization; partnership and history of health care before the NHS and social policy, especially historical and geographical dimensions, citizenship, equity, theories of welfare state development.


His main qualifications are:

  • PhD ('Access to Primary Health Care in London'), University of London (1987)
  • BA (Hons) Human Geography, University of Reading (1983)


Martin has worked at the Universities of Glamorgan, Hertfordshire, Portsmouth, Bath and Stirling.  He is the Editor of 'Social Policy and Administration'. He lectures on the PhD programme at Institute of Governance, University of Maastricht. He is on the Editorial Advisory Board for 'Policy Press' and he has given keynote speeches at events in Italy and South Africa.

Management Experience: 

  • Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer, School of Social Policy (from 1 September 2013)
  • Director of Research, HSMC
  • Acting Postgraduate Lead, HSMC
  • MSc Dissertation co-lead, HSMC
  • Director of Postgraduate Students, School of Public Policy (2007-8)
  • Research Leader for Social Sciences at University of Hertfordshire; Chair of Department of Social and Policy Sciences Research Committee at University of Bath; and Research Director for Department of Applied Social Science at University of Stirling
  • Chief Examiner for Department of Applied Social Sciences, University of Stirling


  • Taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level at a number of Universities, with main contributions on ‘Introduction to Social Policy’, ‘Health and Health Policy’, and ‘Policy Evaluation’

Current teaching:

  • MSc: Health and Health Care Policy; MSc short course: Policy Evaluation; MTS Dissertation Workshop Supervisor


His major research interests are:

  • History of health policy
  • Geography of public service provision
  • Theoretical Developments in the Welfare State
  • Public Sector Partnerships
  • Equality in the Welfare State
  • Decentralisation of public provision
  • Consumerism and Citizenship
  • Health care workforce issues

Principal Research Grants:

  • Staff Satisfaction and Organisational Performance: Evidence from the NHS Staff Survey (with J. Dawson, University of Sheffield), 2012 – 2013. NIHR HS&DR
  • What works in inclusive leadership? (with N Johns, University of Plymouth; A Mulla, University of Birmingham, J. Smith, Nuffield trust and A. Gregory), 2010. NHS III
  • Talent Management in the NHS Managerial Workforce (with HSMC and Business School colleagues, and Dr M. Exworthy, and Dr F. Macfarlane), 2009 – 2011. NHSSDO
  • Management Practice in Healthcare Organisations (led by Dr I Greener, Durham), 2009- 2010. NHSSDO
  • Evaluating the impact of the health reforms in England (with colleagues at HSMC and King’s Fund), 2007 – 2010. Department of Health Policy Research Programme
  • Decentralisation and performance: autonomy and incentives in local health economies (with M. Exworthy, S Peckham, I Greener, P Anand and J Holloway), 2006 – 2009. NHSSDO
  • Modes of Consumption in the UK Welfare State (with I. Greener, York), 2004 – 2006. ESRC
  • Centralisation, decentralisation and devolution in publicly funded health services (with S. Peckham, M. Exworthy, Oxford Brookes; I. Greener, York), 2004. NHSSDO
  • Partnerships- reviewing the evidence (with C. Glendinning, York, B. Dowling, Manchester), 2003 – 2004. NPCRDC (University of Manchester)
  • Municipal medicine in inter-war England (with J. Stewart, History, Oxford Brookes), 2002 - 2005. Wellcome Trust
  • Understanding Health Variations and Policy Variations (with M Exworthy, LSE), 1998 – 2000. ESRC
  • The moving frontier: municipal and voluntary hospitals in interwar Britain (with J. Mohan), 1998 – 1999. Leverhulme Trust
  • The historical geography of the voluntary hospital system in Britain, 1890-1947 (with J. Mohan, Dept of Geography, University of Portsmouth), 1996 - 1998. Leverhulme Trust
  • The politics of local government finance: who gets what where? (with G. Boyne, Business School, University of Wales, Cardiff), 1995 – 1997. Leverhulme Trust

Other activities

  • Review Editor, ‘Social Policy and Administration’, 2003-2005
  • Editor, ‘Social Policy and Administration’, 2005-2012
  • Martin was a member of the EU COST A 15 programme on reforming social protection systems
  • He has been a co-organiser of the European Consortium for Political Research workshop on 'Third Ways in Europe', co-organiser of European Social Policy Network Conference strand on the history of social policy, and a referee for projects for the R&D Office in Northern Ireland, and the Prime Minister's Office, Belgium
  • At Bath Martin was nominated for the University Teaching Award in 2003 - 2004


Recent publications


Exworthy, M, Mannion, R & Powell, M (eds) 2023, The NHS at 75: The State of UK Health Policy. Bristol University Press. <>


Greener, I & Powell, M 2024, 'Crisis in the UK National Health Service: What does it mean, and what are the consequences?', Social Policy and Administration.

Powell, M & Williams, I 2024, 'What is a ‘National’ ‘Health’ ‘Service’? A keyword analysis of policy documents leading to the formation of the UK NHS', Health economics, policy and law.

Al-Janabi, H, Williams, I & Powell, M 2023, 'Is the NHS underfunded? Three approaches to answering the question', Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 116, no. 12, pp. 409–412.

Powell, M 2022, 'Learning lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic', Health economics, policy, and law.

Powell, M, Blenkinsopp, J, Davies, H, Mannion, R, Millar, R, McHale, J & Snowden, N 2022, 'The case of the disappearing whistleblower: an analysis of National Health Service inquiries', Public Money & Management, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 59-69.

Greener, I, Powell, M & King-Hill, S 2021, 'Intra-crisis lesson-drawing in real-time: the pandemic lessons available in the UK media during the first months of COVID-19', Social Policy and Society.

Powell, M & King-Hill, S 2020, 'Intra-crisis learning and prospective policy transfer in the Covid-19 pandemic', International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 40, no. 9-10, pp. 877-892.

Mannion, R, Davies, H, Powell, M, Blenkinsopp, J, Millar, R, McHale, J & Snowden, N 2019, 'Healthcare scandals and the failings of doctors: do official inquiries hold the profession to account?', Journal of Health, Organization and Management, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 221-240.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Powell, M & King-Hill, S 2021, Health service capacities, responses and practice. in GJ Andrews, VA Crooks, JR Pearce & JP Messina (eds), COVID-19 and similar futures: Pandemic Geographies. 1 edn, Global Perspectives on Health Geography, Springer, pp. 101-106.

Powell, M & King-Hill, S 2021, Intra-crisis policy transfer: the case of COVID-19 in the UK. in J Waring, J-L Denis, AR Pedersen & T Tenbensel (eds), Organising Care in a Time of Covid-19: Implications for Leadership, Governance and Policy. 1st edn, Organizational Behaviour in Healthcare, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 21-38.

King-Hill, S, Greener, I & Powell, M 2021, Lesson drawing for the UK government during the Covid-19 pandemic: a comparison of political scientific and media lenses. in M Pomati, A Jolly & J Rees (eds), Social Policy Review . vol. 33, Social Policy Review, Policy Press, pp. 49-74.


Powell, M & Mannion, R 2023, 'Modelling the health policy process: one size fits all or horses for courses?', International Journal of Health Geographics, vol. 12, pp. 1-5.

Other contribution

King-Hill, S, Greener, I & Powell, M 2022, Lessons from the media in the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.. <>

King-Hill, S & Powell, M 2020, Coronavirus: what does it mean when the government says it is 'following the science'?. The Conversation . <>

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