I am a sociologist with an interest in the social and organisational aspects of health and health service delivery and related policy. I have been working as a researcher in the School of Health Sciences since 2015 and appointed to a lecturer role in 2021. My recent work has focused on the factors that contribute to health and social care organisations being effective in delivering services, but also what makes them meaningful and supportive places to work, particularly considering organisational cultures.
University roles and responsibilities
- Wellbeing Champion
- School of Health Sciences ECR representative
NURM112 - MSc Dissertation
HCRM020 - Strategic Leadership in Healthcare
There is a disproportionate number of complaints about social workers in England to the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) as compared with the other health care professionals regulated by HCPC. This paper discusses findings from interviews and focus groups that formed part of a mixed methods study that aimed to find out the reasons for complaints and the strategies that may reduce complaints. Four themes were identified: social work as an evolving profession; social work involves challenging practice; social work takes place in a pressurised environment; and public perceptions and expectations of social work are often negative and unrealistic. Findings highlight explanations that focus on organisational culture and public responses to social workers' control functions. We argue that, at a time of change for the profession, there is a need for public education regarding the role and function of social workers and for regulators to have more proactive engagement with registrants and employers.
Within the regulatory community, there has been increasing interest in the issue of proportionality in regulation — that is, using the right amount and right types of regulatory interventions to achieve the primary mandate of the regulatory community in order to serve and to protect. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in the United Kingdom, one of the largest health-care regulatory bodies in the world, recently commissioned a study examining the disproportionately large number of complaints against paramedics in the UK and social workers in England. The objective of the study was to examine the nature of, and to better understand the reasons behind, this disproportionality, and to identify options and opportunities from a regulatory perspective that could be taken to address this issue. The study involved a systematic multi-methods research approach involving four key interrelated research elements: • A systematic literature review • A Delphi consultation with international experts • Interviews (n=26) and four focus groups (n=23) with UK experts, including service users and caregivers • A review of a random sample (n=284) of fitness-to-practice cases over two years across the three stages of the process (initial complaint, Investigating Committee Panel, and final hearing) Findings from this study highlight the evolving nature of both professions and the influence of a binary model of complaints adjudication that may not be sufficiently nuanced to balance public protection with practitioners’ learning needs. A non-binary option for understanding complaints against practitioners is suggested in this paper, offering a process that involves and engages both employers and practitioners in a more meaningful manner.
Introduction This research set out to understand the context and explore the reasons for the disproportionate number of complaints raised against paramedics to the United Kingdom professional regulator – the Health and Care Professions Council – relative to other health professions. Methods This paper reports on qualitative findings from one aspect of a mixed-methods study which included a case analysis, Delphi study and literature review. One-to-one semi-structured interviews conducted with 15 stakeholders drawn from practitioners, educators, representatives and regulators, and three focus groups held with 16 practitioners and service users were used to gain an in-depth understanding of the possible reasons for complaints about paramedic practice. Results Five themes were generated from a thematic analysis of the data: the impact of public perceptions and expectations; the challenges of day-to-day practice; the effect of increasingly pressurised services; the organisational and cultural climate which impacts paramedics’ work; and the evolving nature of the profession. Conclusion This study highlights the complex and changing nature of paramedic practice. It provides an insight into the ways in which the character, practice and environment of the profession contribute to a disproportionate number of complaints.
Background Increasing numbers of UK women have overweight or obese body mass index scores when they become pregnant, or gain excessive weight in pregnancy, increasing their risk of adverse outcomes. Failure to manage postnatal weight is linked to smoking, non-healthy dietary choices, lack of regular exercise and poorer longer-term health. Women living in areas of higher social deprivation are more likely to experience weight management problems postnatally. Objectives The objectives were to assess the feasibility of conducting a definitive randomised controlled trial to determine the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of lifestyle information and access to a commercial weight management group focusing on self-monitoring, goal-setting and motivation to achieve dietary change commencing 8–16 weeks postnatally to achieve and maintain weight management and positive lifestyle behaviour. Design The design was a randomised two-arm feasibility trial with a nested mixed-methods process evaluation. Setting The setting was a single centre in an inner city setting in the south of England. Participants Participants were women with body mass index scores of ˃ 25 kg/m2 at antenatal ‘booking’ and women with normal body mass index scores (18.0–24.9 kg/m2) at antenatal booking who developed excessive gestational weight gain as assessed at 36 weeks’ gestation. Main outcome measures Recruitment, retention, acceptability of trial processes and identification of relevant economic data were the feasibility objectives. The proposed primary outcome was difference between groups in weight at 12 months postnatally, expressed as percentage weight change and weight loss from antenatal booking. Other proposed outcomes included assessment of diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, body image, maternal esteem, mental health, infant feeding and NHS costs. Results Most objectives were achieved. A total of 193 women were recruited, 98 allocated to the intervention arm and 95 to the control arm. High follow-up rates (˃ 80%) were achieved to 12 months. There was an 8.8% difference in weight loss at 12 months between women allocated to the intervention arm and women allocated to the control arm (13.0% vs. 4.2%, respectively; p = 0.062); 47% of women in the intervention arm attended at least one weight management session, with low risk of contamination between arms. The greatest benefit was among women who attended ≥ 10 sessions. Barriers to attending sessions included capability, opportunity and motivation issues. Data collection tools were appropriate to support economic evaluation in a definitive trial, and economic modelling is feasible to quantify resource impacts and outcomes not directly measurable within a trial. Limitations The trial recruited from only one site. It was not possible to recruit women with normal body mass index scores who developed excessive pregnancy weight gain. Conclusions It was feasible to recruit and retain women with overweight or obese body mass index scores at antenatal booking to a trial comparing postnatal weight management plus standard care with standard care only and collect relevant data to assess outcomes. Approaches to recruit women with normal body mass index scores who gain excessive gestational weight need to be considered. Commercial weight management groups could support women’s weight management as assessed at 12 months postnatally, with probable greater benefit from attending ≥ 10 sessions. Process evaluation findings highlighted the importance of providing more information about the intervention on trial allocation, extended duration of time to commence sessions following birth and extended number of sessions offered to enhance uptake and retention. Results support the conduct of a future randomised controlled trial.
This article examines the nature of, and reasons for, the disproportionately high rates of fitness to practice referrals of social workers in England to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), compared with other professions regulated by HCPC during 2014-16. In 2014-15, the rate of referrals for social workers was 1.42% of registrants, compared with an average for the 16 professions regulated by HCPC of 0.66%. Drawing on published statistics and unique analysis of a sample of 232 case files undertaken as part of a research project in 2016-17, the article highlights relatively high rates of inappropriate referrals from ‘members of the public’ (mainly service users) particularly in relation to child placements and contact. A detailed picture is offered of the variety of referrals dealt with at each stage of the fitness to practice process (from initial triage to final hearings), with recommendations for how to prevent inappropriate referrals, whilst focusing concern on the most serious cases of incompetence and misconduct. This research is of significance at a time of increasing pressure for social workers, social services and service users under conditions of austerity and managerialism; on-going concerns about standards in social work; and recent changes in social work regulation.
There has been little previous scholarship regarding the aims, options and impact of ethics education on residential care-givers. This manuscript details findings from a pragmatic cluster trial evaluating the impact of three different approaches to ethics education. The focus of the article is on one of the interventions, an immersive simulation experience. The simulation experience required residential care-givers to assume the profile of elderly care-recipients for a 24-hr period. The care-givers were student nurses. The project was reviewed favourably by a university ethics committee, and participants provided informed consent. Data from six postsimulation experience focus groups were analysed thematically and three themes were identified: the experience of vulnerability, dignity in care and the organisation of care. Findings suggest that the immersive simulation experience had a powerful immediate impact as participants described epiphanous insights relating to their care experiences. It is suggested that reflecting on and recording epiphanous events has the potential to sustain ethical care practices. Further research is required to evaluate the impact of different ethics education interventions in different cultural contexts. Exploration is also required regarding the meaning and significance of care epiphanies, those “most delicate and evanescent of moments,” for the sustainability of ethical care.
Objectives: To understand the barriers and facilitators to uptake and retention of postnatal women randomised to a commercial group weight management intervention using the COM-B (Capability, Opportunity, Motivation - Behaviour) behaviour change model. Design: Concurrent mixed methods (qualitative dominant) process evaluation nested within a feasibility randomised controlled trial, comprising questionnaires and interviews at six and 12 months post-birth. Setting: One National Health Service maternity unit in an inner city area in the south of England. Participants: 98 postnatal women with BMIs>25kg/m2 (overweight/obese) at pregnancy commencement. Intervention: Twelve week Slimming World® (SW) commercial group weight management programme, commencing anytime from 8 to 16 weeks postnatally. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Data regarding uptake and retention from questionnaires and interviews conducted six and 12 months post birth, analysed thematically and mapped to the COM-B model. Results: Barriers to SW uptake mostly concerned opportunity issues (e.g., lack of time or childcare support) though some women also lacked motivation, not feeling that weight reduction was a priority, and a few cited capability issues such as lacking confidence. Weight loss aspirations were also a key factor explaining retention, as were social opportunity issues, particularly in relation to factors such as the extent of group identity and relationship with the group consultant; and physical opportunity such as perceived support from and fit with family lifestyle. In addition, barriers relating to beliefs and expectations about the SW programme were identified, including concerns regarding compatibility with breastfeeding and importance of exercise. Women’s understanding of the SW approach, and capability to implement into their lifestyles, appeared related to level of attendance (dose-response effect). Conclusions: Uptake and retention in commercial weight management programmes may be enhanced by applying behaviour change techniques to address the barriers impacting on women’s perceived capability, motivation and opportunity to participate.
Objectives To assess feasibility of a future randomised controlled trial (RCT) of clinical and cost‐effectiveness of lifestyle information and commercial weight management groups to support postnatal weight management to 12 months post‐birth. Design Two‐arm feasibility trial, with nested mixed‐methods process evaluation. Setting Inner‐city unit, south England. Population Women with body mass indices (BMIs) ≥25 kg/m2 at pregnancy booking or normal BMIs (18.5–24.9 kg/m2) identified with excessive gestational weight gain at 36 weeks of gestation. Methods Randomised to standard care plus commercial weight management sessions commencing 8–16 weeks postnatally or standard care only. Main outcomes Feasibility outcomes included assessment of recruitment, retention, acceptability and economic data collation. Primary and secondary end points included difference between groups in weight 12 months postnatally compared with booking (proposed primary outcome for a future trial), diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, mental health, infant feeding, NHS resource use. Results In all, 193 women were randomised: 98 intervention and 95 control; only four women had excessive gestational weight gain. A slightly greater weight change was found among intervention women at 12 months, with greatest benefit. Among women attending ten or more weight management sessions. There was >80% follow up to 12 months, low risk of contamination and no group differences in trial completion. Conclusion It was feasible to recruit and retain women with BMIs ≥25 kg/m2 to an intervention to support postnatal weight management; identification of excessive gestational weight gain requires consideration. Economic modelling could inform out‐of‐trial costs and benefits in a future trial. A definitive trial is an important next step. Tweetable abstract A feasibility RCT of postnatal weight support showed women with BMIs ≥25 kg/m2 can be recruited and followed to 12 months postnatally.
Background Cancer is diagnosed and managed by multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) in the UK and worldwide, these meet regularly in multidisciplinary team meetings (MDMs) to discuss individual patient treatment options. Rising cancer incidence and increasing case complexity has increased pressure on MDMs. Streamlining discussions has been suggested as a way to enhance efficiency and ensure high quality discussion of complex cases. Methods Secondary analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from a national survey of 1,220 MDT members regarding their views about streamlining MDM discussions. Results The majority of participants agreed that streamlining discussions may be beneficial although variable interpretations of ‘streamlining’ were apparent. Agreement levels varied significantly by tumour type and occupational group. The main reason for opposing streamlining were concerns about the possible impact on the quality and safety of patient care. Participants suggested a range of alternative approaches for improving efficiency in MDMs in addition to the use of treatment protocols and pre-MDT meetings. Conclusions This work complements previous analyses in supporting the development of tumour specific guidance for streamlining MDM discussions considering a range of approaches. The information provided about the variation in opinions between MDT for different tumour types will inform the development of these guidelines. The evidence for variation in opinions between those in different occupational groups and the reasons underlying these opinions will facilitate their implementation. The impact of any changes in MDM practices on the quality and safety of patient care requires evaluation.
Purpose: This paper aims to examine the suitability of a social enterprise model for community health promotion organisations working in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It focuses on organisational culture, social resources and capacity as pre-requisites for entrepreneurial activities. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is based on ethnographic case studies in England including semi-structured interviews with the organisations’ staff, trustees and external stakeholders, participant observation, creative method workshops with staff and feedback meetings with staff and trustees. Findings: The paper provides empirical insights into the potential for, and the consequences of, introducing entrepreneurial ways of working to community health promotion organisations. It suggests that pre-existing capacity, competencies and skills, as well as the ability to manage cultural hybridity are key factors. Research limitations/implications: Studying three organisations allowed comparative analysis, however time constraints limited access to some stakeholders and meant that the researcher could not be continuously present. Fieldwork generated a series of “snapshots” of each organisation at several time points. Practical implications: Community health promotion organisations should be mindful of the social and cultural implications of following the entrepreneurial route to income generation. Policymakers need to be more aware of the challenges community health promotion organisations face in taking on entrepreneurial ways of working. Originality/value: This article contributes new empirical insights into the process of community health promotion organisations adopting entrepreneurial ways of working. This is underpinned by Bourdieu's concept of habitus which provides a new theoretical lens for examining the social and cultural aspects of this transition.
Background Multidisciplinary Team Meetings (MDTMs), where treatment recommendations are discussed and agreed, are fundamental to effective cancer care. The increasing volume and complexity of caseloads has led to the need to transform MDTM pathways to improve efficiency and allow sufficient time for discussion of complex cases. Understanding of current functioning and inefficiencies is required to inform such transformation. Methods A mixed-methods observational study of all lung cancer MDTMs in one UK cancer network over 12 weeks (n=8 MDTs, 96 MDT meetings). Data were collected on meeting attendance and on each discussed case using a validated MDT tool. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a range of MDT members and cancer service managers to gain understanding of perceived influences on the efficiency of MDTMs. Results 1671 case discussions were observed. Models of MDT working, including referral and diagnostic pathway management, varied within the network. Attendance was quorate in only 21% of the observed MDTMs, most often lacking palliative care specialists. Over a third (37%) of observed cases were repeat discussions pre-diagnosis. Treatment recommendations were agreed in 48% of case discussions but deferred for a quarter (24%) of discussed cases, most commonly due to awaiting results. Information about patients’ fitness for treatment and/or Performance Status score was available for 60% of cases discussed overall (30-75% by MDT). Interviews (n=56) identified addressing clinical and administrative workforce shortages, less reliance on the MDTM for pre-diagnostic decision-making and better availability of key clinical information about patients discussed in the MDTM as factors critical to improved MDT function. Conclusions Inefficiencies were prevalent in all MDTMs; improvements would require an individualised approach due to the variation in ways of working. Local, regional and national support is needed for lung MDTs to develop their diagnostic workforce and facilities, and clinical and administrative resource.
Background It is the responsibility of healthcare regulators to ensure healthcare professionals remain fit for practice in healthcare settings. If there are concerns about an individual healthcare professional they may undergo a fitness to practice investigation. This process is known to be hugely stressful for doctors and social workers, but little is known about the impact of this experience on other professions. This study explores the experiences of registrants going through the process of being reported to the UK’s Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and attending fitness to practice (FTP) hearings. We discuss the implications of this process on registrants’ wellbeing and, from our findings, present recommendations based on registrants experiences. In doing so we articulate the structural processes of the HCPC FTP process and the impact this has on individuals. Methods This study uses semi-structured interviews and framework analysis to explore the experiences of 15 registrants who had completed the FTP process. Participants were sampled for maximum variation and were selected to reflect the range of possible processes and outcomes through the FTP process. Results The psychological impact of undergoing a FTP process was significant for the majority of participants. Their stories described influences on their wellbeing at both a macro (institutional/organisational) and micro (individual) level. A lack of information, long length of time for the process and poor support avenues were macro factors impacting on the ability of registrants to cope with their experiences (theme 1). These macro factors led to feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability and threat of ruin for many registrants (theme 2). Suggested improvements (theme 3) included better psychological support (e.g. signposting or provision); proportional processes to the incident (e.g. mediation instead of hearings); and taking context into account. Conclusions Findings suggest that improvements to both the structure and conduct of the FTP process are warranted. Implementation of better signposting for support both during and after a FTP process may improve psychological wellbeing. There may also be value in considering alternative ways of organising the FTP process to enable greater consideration of and flexibility for registrants’ context and how they are investigated.
There has been little previous research regarding the effectiveness of ethics education interventions for residential care‐givers. The Researching Interventions to Promote Ethics in social care project responded to the question: Which is the most effective ethics education intervention for care‐givers in residential social care? A pragmatic cluster trial explored the impact of three ethics education interventions for: (a) interactive face‐to‐face ethics teaching; (b) reflective ethics discussion groups; and (c) an immersive simulation experience. There was also a control arm (d). 144 trial participants were recruited from 39 residential care homes for older people in southern England. Change scores compared across intervention arms showed a significant reduction in work‐related moral stress in the teaching arm compared with control group (p = .03); there were no significant differences between control and intervention arms in change scores for moral sensitivity, interpersonal reactivity (empathy) or ethical leadership. Qualitative data themes were as follows: ethical care; care challenges; and ethical care inhibitors. Overall findings stimulate reflection on the value of three different ethics education interventions and the most appropriate means to evaluate their impact. Findings suggest the complexity and diverse nature of ethical competence in care. We suggest a way forward for research evaluating ethics education.
Background: Evidence from a national clinical audit of early inflammatory arthritis (EIA) shows considerable variability between hospitals in performance, unexplained by controlling for case-mix. Objective: To explore the macro-level, meso-level and micro-level barriers and facilitators to the provision of good quality EIA care. Methods: A qualitative study within 16 purposively sampled rheumatology units across England and Wales. Quality was assessed in relation to 11 quality indicators based on clinical opinion, evidence and variability observed in the data. Data from semi-structured interviews with staff (1–5 from each unit, 56 in total) and an online questionnaire (n=14/16 units) were integrated and analysed using the framework method for thematic analysis using a combined inductive and deductive approach (underpinned by an evidence-based framework of healthcare team effectiveness), and constant comparison of data within and between units and its relationship with the quality criteria. Findings: Quality of care was influenced by an interplay between macro, meso and micro domains. The macro (eg, shared care arrangements and relationships with general practitioners) and meso (eg, managerial support and physical infrastructure) factors were found to act as crucial enablers of and barriers to higher quality service provision at the micro (team) level. These organisational factors directly influenced team structure and function, and thereby EIA care quality. Conclusions: Variability in quality of EIA care is associated with an interplay between macro, meso and micro service features. Tackling macro and meso barriers is likely to have a significant impact on quality of EIA service, and ultimately patient experience and outcomes.
Objectives To evaluate the impact of the shift to virtual lung cancer multidisciplinary team meetings (MDTMs) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically in relation to the magnitude of information technology (IT) issues and distractions and MDT members’/managers’ perceptions and experiences of this shift. Design A mixed-methods study comprising real-time observations of IT issues/distractions within virtual MDTM case discussions held between April-July 2021 and qualitative data from interviews/surveys. Setting Eight hospital organisations in Southern England. Participants Team members (respiratory physicians, surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, palliative care professionals, nurses and MDT coordinators) and managers (n=190) across eight local MDTs. Results MDTM observations (n=1664) highlighted significant variation between teams regarding IT functionality. IT issues and other distractions relating to the virtual MDTM format were observed 465 times affecting 20.6% of case discussions, most of which were audio issues (18.1%). Case discussions that had audio issues were, on average, 26 seconds longer (t(1652) = -2.77, p < .01). A total of 73 MDT members and managers participated in the survey and 41 participated in interviews, with all eight teams being represented. Increased flexibility, reduced travel time and easier real-time access to patient information were seen as the main advantages of virtual MDTMs. Views regarding the impact on relational aspects and communication differed. In line with observational findings, concerns were raised in relation to IT, including having inappropriate equipment, insufficient bandwidth (impairing image-sharing and video communication) and an overarching theme that virtual meeting platforms provided were not fit-for-purpose. Conclusions Despite the potential benefits of virtual MDTMs, IT issues can waste valuable MDTM time. If hospital organisations plan to continue virtual MDTMs, a functioning infrastructure is required, necessitating appropriate resource and investment.