Study explores historical influences on health policy

The National Health Service was launched in 1948

University of Liverpool medical historian, Professor Sally Sheard, has been appointed as a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator to study the development of health policy in Britain since the launch of the National Health Service in 1948.

The project will analyse a range of national and international archives and draw on interviews with advisors and policymakers to better understand the issues and experts that have influenced post-war health policy.

Professor Sally Sheard, who works in the University’s Department of Public Health and Policy and the Department of History, said: “There has been a marked change in the source of expert advice for the development of health policy in Britain, especially since the 1970s.

“The medical profession increasingly competes with health economists and management consultants for access to and influence over the policymaking process.”

Hospital management

Working with two postdoctoral research fellows, Professor Sheard will also develop case studies to investigate how these areas of expertise interacted to shape pharmaceutical, geriatric care and hospital management policies, and engage with local health authorities to look at their impact within the North West.

This research, supported by the Wellcome Trust, builds on Professor Sheard’s previous research into the work of the health economist and special adviser, Brian Abel-Smith, and her book with Sir Liam Donaldson: The Nation’s Doctor: a history of the role of the Chief Medical Officer 1855-1998.


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