Professor Jean V. McHale

Birmingham Law School
Professor of Health Care Law

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Professor Jean McHale researches and writes in the area of Health Law and Health Care law. She is the Director of the Centre for Health Law, Science and Policy at Birmingham Law School. Her recent books include The Regulation of Cosmetic Procedures: Legal, Ethical and Practical Challenges” with Dr Melanie Latham (Routledge 2020;  European Health Law: Themes and Implications with Hervey (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Routledge Handbook on Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Perspectives from Social Sciences and Law, edited with Nicola Gale, (Routledge, 2015). Professor  McHale is  currently the Principal Investigator on the ESRC Covid-19 Rapid Response Grant “ Removing Rights from the Vulnerable?: The Impact of Covid-19 Social Care Easements.”

She was also the PI on the UK Changing Europe Initiative Grant “Health Law outside the EU:Immediate, Intermediate and Long Term Impacts” – co-investigators Professor Tamara Hervey (University of Sheffield) and Dr Mark Flear (Queens University Belfast) (2017-2019). She was  also a co-grant holder on the National Institute for Health Research grant “Understanding employee whistleblowing in health care” (2016-2018) and  the AHRC research network grant The Changing Demands of Beauty (2016-2016).


  • LLB (Hons) (Manchester)
  • MPhil (Manchester)


Jean McHale took up a chair at the University of Birmingham in September 2009. She previously taught at the Universities of East Anglia, Nottingham, Manchester and Leicester.


  • Legal Issues in Health Care (LLB)
  • Health Law and the EU (LLM)
  • Human Rights and Health Care Law (LLM)

Postgraduate supervision

Health and Health Care Law, in particular,

Health Law and the EU
Health Care Privacy and Confidentiality
Legal Regulation of Genetics
Law and Nanomedicine
Legal Regulation of Use of Human Material
Legal Regulation of Clinical Research
Mental Health Law
Organ Transplantation

Find out more - our PhD Law  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Professor McHale has written several monographs and textbooks in the area of health care law.  Her first monograph Medical Confidentiality and Legal Privilege was published by Routledge in 1993. The second edition of her textbook Health Care Law Cases and Materials with Marie Fox (Sweet and Maxwell) and the third edition of her textbook Law and Nursing with John Tingle (Butterworth Heinemann) were both published in 2007.  She is also a co-editor and contributor to two major volumes of essays for Oxford University Press, Principles of Mental Health Law (1st edition) (with Peter Bartlett, Larry Gostin, Phil Fennell and Ronnie MacKay) 2010 and Principles of Medical Law (4th Edition) (with Judy Laing) 2017. She has published papers in wide range of legal and health care professional journals. She has given invited papers at numerous conferences and seminars to legal, health care professional and policy audiences and has been invited to give evidence in relation to the impact of Brexit on health care to the House of Commons Health Select Committee (2017).

Her main research themes currently are health law and the EU and the implications of Brexit. Secondly, legal and ethical challenges regarding regulation of cosmetic procedures. Thirdly health care and  human rights particularly in the context of Whistleblowing and in relation to older people.

She was one of the academic directors of the third Birmingham Policy Commission "Healthy Ageing in the C21st." See further her podcast with the University of Birmingham Ideaslab about the policy and political implications of healthy ageing in the UK and the Commission website.

Research Funding

  • ESRC Grant “Health Law Outside the EU: Immediate, Intermediate and Long-Term Impacts” (May 2017- November 2018)( Principal Applicant. Co-I’s Professor Tamara Hervey ( Sheffield), Dr Mark Flear (QUB).
  • National Institute for Health Research “Understanding Employee Whistleblowing in Health Care” ,co-applicant. P.I. Professor RusseLL Mannion, Health Service Management, University of Birmingham.
  • AHRC Research Network Award " The Changing Requirements of Beauty: Concepts, Norms and Regulations". Co-applicant with Professor Heather Widdows 2015-6.
  • Wellcome Trust Conference Award 2014 "A Critical Exploration of Global Public Health" Principal applicant with Dr Sheelagh McGuinness, co-applicant.
  • AHRC Research Networking Award “The Influence of Faith and Belief on the Formulation, Content and Operation of Health Law in the United Kingdom” with colleagues from Universities of Birmingham, De Montfort, Leicester, Nottingham and Nottingham Trent.  2013-4.
  • Wellcome Trust Conference Award 2011“Regulation and Professionalisation in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Concerns” (Principal applicant with Dr Nicola Gale co-applicant)
  • Modern Law Review Seminar Series award “Health Law, Faiths and Beliefs: New Dilemmas: New Perspectives” £2500 (with Dr Kola Abimbola)  2006"
  • ESRC, Childhood cancer tissue donations: a gift relationship?" funded by the ESRC (2004-7).  (PI Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, University of Leicester. I was a coapplicant and a  member of a research team which included C. Seale, B. Young, K. Pritchard-Jones, M. Tobin, D.Heney, and M. Habiba.
  • British Academy (2000) Travel award
  • ESRC "NHS Contracts, from Legal Concepts to Operational Reality” ESRC (1993-1996) "Contracts and Completion Initiative". Co-applicant with  Professor David Hughes, University of Swansea)
  • Kings Fund Institute 1992-4 with  Professor Robert Dingwall , University of Nottingham, “Organ Donation: A Question of Give and Take”

Other activities

She has given evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee in relation to its inquiries in relation to Brexit and healthcare in February 2017 and in November 2017. She has also given evidence to the House of Lords Home Affairs and Health Sub-Committee on the implication of Brexit for patient mobility and health care rights in October 2017. She was cited in the Inquiry Reports of the Select Committees. She has also been invited to present her research findings on Brexit and Health and Social Care in Scotland, to Members of the Scottish Parliament and Parliamentary officials in 2018 and in 2019.

Her Scottish Parliament podcast of presentation with Elizabeth Speakman on the impacts of Brexit for Scotland at the Scottish Parliament in February 2019 was issued by the Parliament as a podcast

She is a Trustee of Coventry Law Centre

Her external activities also have included being the legal member of Ethics and Governance Committee of the Airwave Health Monitoring Study which is being run jointly by the Home Office and Imperial College London. Previously she served as a member of the Promise of the Human Genome Panel of the DTI Health Task Force (1999-2000). She was a member of UK Biobank Interim Ethics and Governance Advisory Group 2003-4. She was a member of the UK Advisory Panel for Health Care Workers Affected by Blood Borne Viruses (206-2010). She was commissioned to write a Paper on Confidentiality and Mental Health for the Expert Committee chaired by Professor Genevra Richardson into the review of the Mental Health Act 1983, published in 1999. 

Her Brexit work has been reported in the National media:

She made a broadcast on 38 degrees Facebook Live session on Brexit and the NHS on the 4th December.

She was interviewed on BBC Radio Northern Ireland for their lunchtime Talk Back programme on 4th December.


Recent publications


Latham, M & McHale, J 2020, The Regulation of Cosmetic Procedures: Legal, Ethical and Practical Challenges. 1st edn, Routledge, London.

McHale, J & Laing, J (eds) 2017, Principles of Medical Law (4th edition). 4th edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford.


McHale, J & Speakman, E 2020, 'Charging ‘overseas visitors’ for NHS treatment, from Bevan to Windrush and beyond', Legal Studies.

McHale, J, Speakman, E, Hervey, T & Flear, M 2020, 'Health law and policy, devolution and Brexit', Regional Studies.

McHale, J 2019, 'Falling between the gaps post the declaration of Helsinki: innovative medical treatment in England - the case for comprehensive legal regulation', Law, Innovation and Technology, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 93-111.

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.

McHale, J 2018, 'Health law, Brexit and medical devices: a question of legal regulation and patient safety', Medical law international, vol. 18, no. 2-3, pp. 195-215.

McHale, J & Latham, M 2017, 'A Matter of Life and Death? Regulating to avert the risk of cancer from commercial sunbed use in the UK and Australia', Journal of Medical Law and Ethics, vol. 3, pp. 81-101.

McHale, J 2017, 'Innovation, informed consent, health research and the Supreme Court: Montgomery v Lanarkshire – a brave new world?', Health economics, policy, and law.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

McHale, J 2018, Patient safety, the "safe space" and the duty of candour: reconciling the irreconcilable? in J Tingle, C Ó Néill & M Shimwell (eds), Global Patient Safety: Law Policy and Practice. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 76-98. <>

McHale, J & Mahalatchimy, A 2017, EU law and policy on human materials. in TK Hervey, LE Bishop & CA Young (eds), Research Handbook on EU Health Law and Policy. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 222-241.


Mannion, R, Davies, H, John, B, McHale, J, Millar, R, Powell, M & Snowden, N 2018, Speaking up or blowing the whistle for better, safer care. in Global Patient Safety: Law, Policy and Practice.

Commissioned report

Mannion, R, Blenkinsopp, J, Powell, M, McHale, J, Millar, R, Snowden, N & Davies, H 2018, Understanding the knowledge gaps in whistleblowing and speaking up in health care: narrative reviews of the research literature and formal inquiries, a legal analysis and stakeholder interviews. Health Services and Delivery Research, vol. 60, 30 edn, National Institute for Health Research.

Other contribution

Quigley, M, McHale, J, Dickson, R & Downey, L 2020, Medicines and Medical Devices Bill 2019-20 Briefing Note. University of Birmingham. <>

Review article

Blenkinsopp, J, Snowden, N, Mannion, R, Powell, M, Davies, H, Millar, R & McHale, J 2019, 'Whistleblowing over patient safety and care quality: a review of the literature', Journal of Health, Organization and Management, vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 737-756.

View all publications in research portal


Health care law in particular legal regulation of genetics; health law and the EU; legal regulation of nanomedicine; health care confidentiality; clinical research; organ transplantation; mental health law 

Media experience

Professor McHale's Brexit work has been reported in the National media:

She made a broadcast on 38 degrees Facebook Live session on Brexit and the NHS on the 4th December.

She was interviewed on BBC Radio Northern Ireland for their lunchtime Talk Back programme on 4th December.

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office


Health Law - currently focusing on the impact of Brexit on health care in general and the NHS in particular

Medical Confidentiality

Whistleblowing in the NHS

Consent to treatment

Organ transplantation and legal regulation of human material 

Mental Capacity and mental health law

Legal Regulation of Cosmetic procedures (Surgical and non-surgical)

Health care, human rights and older people

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities