Iain Snelling

Iain Snelling

Health Services Management Centre
Senior Fellow

Contact details

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

Iain specialises in teaching, consultancy and research in management and leadership development in the NHS, service evaluation and improvement, clinical engagement in management and leadership. From 2011 – 2013 he was co-Director of the educational element of the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme and the NHS Clinical Leadership Fellows programme, and from 2012-2015 he was HSMC Director of Teaching.  He was a tutor on the NHS Leadership Academy’s Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme from 2013-2020. His current work includes contributions to HSMC’s MSc programmes, and the intercalated programme in Health Management and Leadership for medical students. He has developed and run leadership programmes for surgical trainees, and had developed a PGCert programme to runs alongside future cohorts, and is developing with Mark Exworthy, a Clinical Leadership strand to the Business School’s on-line MBA programme.


His main qualifications and memberships are: 

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Sheffield Hallam University (2003)
  • MA Ethics of Health Care, University of Wales (1998)
  • Diploma in Health Services Management, Institute of Health Management (1992)
  • BA (Hons), Politics, University of Leicester (1987)


Iain joined HSMC in 2010 and was previously Head of the Centre of Professional and Organisation Development at Sheffield Hallam University. He is an experienced teacher at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and has developed a number of bespoke educational programmes for the NHS. He is particularly interested in the effect of individuals’ development on their performance at work, the idea that there can be a ‘rate of return’ on development activities. His professional background is in NHS hospital management – he had wide experience in operational management and in corporate roles in the NHS where he worked for 13 years. His last post was Deputy Director of Operations at West Suffolk Hospital, until 2002.

Iain was an NHS Manager from 1988 – 2002. He started in the NHS at a time when the movement to engage doctors in the management and leadership of the NHS was taking off. His first senior management job was in a ‘triumvirate’ with a Clinical Director and a Nurse Manager, and this experience of working with part time medical leaders (hybrids), and with clinical leaders more generally, has remained an academic interest ever since. For many years he has run leadership development programmes for Medical Trainees, most recently for Surgeons in the West Midlands. He has undertaken research into medical leadership arrangements, and the development of  development roles to support medical leadership.


Current and previous projects include

  • Evaluation of the Health Education England South West Clinical Leadership Mentors programme (2019-2020)
  • Evaluation of the HEE Wessex Chief Registrar programme (2017-2018)
  • Evaluation of the Royal College of Physicians Chief Registrar programme (2016-2017)
  • Every patient a research patient? Evaluating the current state of research in the NHS. Cancer Research UK (2014-2015)
  • Models of Medical Leadership and their Effectiveness: NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation programme. (2011-2013)
  • Understanding and improving transitions of older people: a user and carer centred approach. NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation programme.  (2010-2012)


Recent publications


Pathmanathan, A & Snelling, I 2023, 'Exploring reasons behind UK doctors leaving the medical profession: a series of qualitative interviews with former UK doctors', BMJ open, vol. 13, no. 9, e068202. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2022-068202

Snelling, I, Brown, H, Hardy, L, Somerset, L, Bosence, S & Thurlow, J 2023, 'UK trainees’ perceptions of leadership and leadership development', BMJ Leader. https://doi.org/10.1136/leader-2023-000771

Snelling, I, Exworthy, M & Ghezelayagh, S 2020, 'The Chief Registrar role in the UK: leadership capacity and development of hybrid leaders', Journal of Health, Organization and Management, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-08-2019-0229

Snelling, I, Benson, L & Chambers, N 2019, 'How trainee hospital doctors lead work-based projects', Leadership in Health Services, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 85-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHS-12-2018-0064

Dickinson, H, Snelling, I, Ham, C & Spurgeon, P 2017, 'Are we nearly there yet? A study of the English National Health Service as professional bureaucracies', Journal of Health, Organization and Management, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 430-444. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-01-2017-0023

Dickinson, H, Ham, C, Snelling, I & Spurgeon, P 2013, 'Medical leadership arrangements in English healthcare organisations: Findings from a national survey and case studies of NHS trusts', Health Services Management Research, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 119-125. https://doi.org/10.1177/0951484814525598

Snelling, I 2010, 'The development of regulation of acute hospitals in England: Leadership challenges', Leadership in Health Services, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 172-179. https://doi.org/10.1108/17511871011040742

Snelling, I 2003, 'Do star ratings really reflect hospital performance?', Journal of Health Organisation and Management, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 210-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777260310480758


Sellman, D, Snelling, P & Snelling, I 2010, Health Policy. in Becoming a Nurse, A textbook for professional practice. Pearson Education. <http://catalogue.pearsoned.co.uk/catalog/academic/product/0,1144,0132389231,00.html>

Sellman, D, Snelling, P, Snelling, I, Havard, C & Pontin, D 2010, Management and Leadership. in Becoming a Nurse, A textbook for professional practice. Pearson Education. <http://catalogue.pearsoned.co.uk/catalog/academic/product/0,1144,0132389231,00.html>

Commissioned report

Brown, H, Hewison, A, Gale, N, Snelling, I & Shneerson, C 2015, Every Patient a research patient? Evaluating the current state of research in the NHS. Cancer Research UK. <https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/cruk_every_patient_may2015_web.pdf>

Brown, H, Ellins, J, Kearney, J, Singh, K, Jackson, O, Krelle, H & Snelling, I 2014, Measuring up? The health of NHS cancer services. Cancer Research UK. <https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/measuring_up_health_of_nhs_cancer_services_sept2014.pdf>

Dickinson, H, Ham, C, Snelling, I & Spurgeon, P 2013, Are we there yet? Models of medical leadership and their effectiveness. National Institute for Health Research, Southampton. <http://www.netscc.ac.uk/hsdr/files/project/SDO_FR_08-1808-236_V07.pdf>

Ellins, J, Glasby, J, Tanner, D, McIver, S, Davidson, D, Littlechild, R, Snelling, I, Miller, R, Hall, K & Spence, K 2012, Understanding and improving transitions of older people: a user and carer centred approach. National Institute for Health Research. <http://www.netscc.ac.uk/hsdr/projdetails.php?ref=08-1809-228 >

Working paper

Millar, R, Snelling, I & Brown, H 2011 'HSMC Policy Paper 11: Liberating the NHS: orders of change?' University of Birmingham, Health Services Management Centre, Birmingham. <http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/social-policy/HSMC/publications/PolicyPapers/Policy-paper-11.pdf>

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