Tag Archives: PhD

PSTRCs PhD Network event 2020

13 Mar


For the second year PhD students funded by the three NIHR patient safety centres gathered to present their work, display posters and hear from expert speakers on Monday 24th February 2020.

This year the event was hosted by the centre based at The University of Manchester, the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR GM PSTRC), which is a partnership between the University of Manchester, and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham. PhD students travelled from the other two centres, Yorkshire and Humber and Imperial to take part in the event.

The PhD students were joined by experienced researchers from the three centres, and Dr Jane Brooks, Director of Postgraduate Research, School of Health Science, at The University of Manchester. The day was chaired by the GM PSTRC postgraduate & training lead Prof Roger Webb.

Dr Jane Brooks highlighted the value of studying for a PhD while giving the visiting students and researchers some background on The University of Manchester’s credentials and achievements.

Jane said: “It is clear that a great value of the PSTRCs is the diversity of work that’s undertaken and the commitment shown to the patient’s voice and needs. I was particularly impressed to hear the PhD students themselves presenting their work. Their enthusiasm for study and making a difference to the patient population is worthy of high commendation.”

NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, Rebecca Hays spoke to attendees sharing her insight and experience in her presentation ‘Reflections on an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship’.

Rebecca said: “I think it is important to take advantage of the opportunities available to you, and Fellowships offer an unrivalled opportunity for development. Through my Doctoral Research Fellowship, I have been able to devise and work on my own project for the first time. I learned a lot just from the process of developing the application, and am really enjoying collaborating with a wide range of people, including members of the public, NHS staff and experts from other Universities.”

Salina Tsui, a PhD student from the Greater Manchester PSTRC who attended the event, said: “The network event provided an opportunity for me to get to know the research that’s underway by other PhD students and was also a great way for me to learn how their research has developed. Their excellent presentations made me think of how my research could benefit from the involvement of patients and the public along with how to go about it. Importantly, the day got me thinking about how my research can be presented to different audiences.”

Professor Stephen Campbell, Director of the GM PSTRC, said: “We’re immensely proud of all the PhD students who are part of the 3-PSTRC PhD network. For some it was their first time presenting their work. The day was a reminder of the huge breadth of work and methods underway across all the centres and the potential difference it can make to patient safety.  The three PSTRCs are fortunate that the calibre of PhD students is so high and their work is undoubtedly enhancing the impact of the centres. I look forward to following their progress.”

2nd annual PSTRCs PhD Network event: Rebecca Musgrove’s perspective

13 Mar

by Rebecca Musgrove

Rebecca Musgrove_photo

At the end of February I attended and presented at the second NIHR PSTRCs PhD network event hosted by the Greater Manchester PSTRC.

Professor Roger Webb, mental health epidemiologist at the University of Manchester and my primary supervisor, gave the opening talk. Dr Jane Brooks followed with a celebration of women in academia, particularly at The University of Manchester. She also talked about some of the opportunities and challenges of being a PhD student (or perhaps PhD researcher) which I identified with. Something that both Roger and Jane highlighted was that although a PhD can be a gateway to an academic career, there are actually lots of paths a career can take post-PhD. As a result I’m keeping my eyes peeled for opportunities and will be seeking them out.

I only started my PhD a year ago, and I have sometimes felt that I don’t quite fit as a PhD student as I don’t ‘feel’ academic enough, I started in my 40s and I’m not sure that I want a university based research career. However, seeing the range of researchers across the PSTRCs and hearing the presentation from Jane reminded me that there is no one way to be a student. It also showed me that the PSTRC is exactly where I should be. I am fundamentally a translational health services researcher and see my career developing the area where research and practice meet.

My PhD focuses on the epidemiology of non-fatal self-harm, suicide and other premature mortality within a year of discharge from mental health inpatient care. I am particularly interested in how people recently discharged from hospital use health services including primary care and A&E, and whether this use is different for those who die by suicide within a year of leaving hospital.

My presentation was an overview of the studies I’ll be undertaking including the involvement of stakeholders, in particular service users, and my plans for translating findings into policy and practice.

The network event provided a great setting for my first presentation. I definitely felt the nerves when I saw my bio in the programme. However, it also felt like a safe and encouraging environment in which to develop my delivery skills. As a result I’ve already signed up to give another presentation about my work elsewhere.

Reviewing the titles of other presentations I was reminded that patient safety spans a huge range of topics and disciplines. Understanding my audience was something I learnt. I drew on my experience of working with our service user and staff advisory groups and kept this in thefront of my mind while writing the content of my presentation.

The benefit of bringing together attendees from the three PSTRCs meant I was able to make connections with people and learn from those outside of my immediate field.  For example, Khanh Ha Bui from Imperial gave a talk about the cost of health utilisation in frail patients which ties in with an approach I am considering to assess the cost of services used by those discharged from mental health inpatient care.

When Dr Aoife Molloy, also from Imperial, talked about the challenges of carrying out a systematic review of patient safety at transitions of care this really resonated and I look forward to seeing the outcome of her work. I was also able to provide advice to a new PhD student about datasets and PPI which made me realise I’m no longer new and I do already have something to offer to others!

In the development of my presentation I found that for the first time I could describe my PhD as a cohesive whole. Suddenly I feel like I have a road map for the next two years. The event was a chance to take a step back from the detail of my PhD, to reignite my excitement about the project as a whole and situate it in the wider patient safety context through listening to the range of other talks.

PhD Fellow Focus: Rebecca Musgrove

1 Jul

by Rebecca Musgrove

Rebecca Musgrove_Photo

Rebecca Musgrove joined the University of Manchester as an NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC-funded PhD student in January 2019.  As part of the ‘Safety in Marginalised Groups’ theme, she is focusing on the epidemiology (how often and where diseases or healthcare events happen) of suicide and self-harm after discharge from Mental Health inpatient care.  She is particularly interested in the role of primary care and specialist mental health services in protecting against suicide in the period shortly after discharge.  She hopes to use the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a large UK dataset derived from a large network of GP practices, linked with hospital admission, mental health and mortality records to define a cohort.

Prior to taking up the studentship, Rebecca worked as a Senior Analyst with the Mental Health policy team at NHS England.  She used data from the Mental Health Services dataset and other relevant national collections to provide monitoring tools and analysis to support the implementation of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and the more recent Long Term Plan.  She holds a Master’s degree in Demography and Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  Prior to this Rebecca worked as a trainer and in operational management in community Sexual Health in London and as a Child Protection Manager in war affected communities internationally.

She is passionate about improving health outcomes and reducing premature mortality for people who experience mental ill health and hopes her PhD will provide evidence to support and further develop existing UK policy.  After completing her PhD she hopes to continue working closely with the NHS in a mental health-care research capacity.

Developing a resource to help healthcare professionals implement NICE guidelines for self-harm

1 Jul

by Jessica Leather


Jessica Leather joined the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC Marginalised Groups theme as a PhD Fellow in September 2018. Before coming to the University of Manchester she completed a MSc in Health Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University. Following her masters, she worked as a research assistant for a bowel cancer screening intervention for Black and Asian Minority Ethnic populations in Liverpool. Her main interests lie in behaviour change interventions, particularly involving healthcare professionals as recipients or agents.

Jessica’s PhD focuses on the development of an intervention to aid healthcare professionals in implementing the NICE guidelines for self-harm, supervised by Prof Christopher Armitage, Prof Navneet Kapur and Prof Stephen Campbell. Self-harm is a key risk factor for suicide; approximately half of people who die by suicide have a lifetime history of self-harm. Presentations in primary care for self-harm are a critical setting for healthcare professionals to identify suicide risk and intervene. However, it is unclear:

  1. what is the rate of patients presenting with self-harm
  2. whether healthcare professionals are aware of the guidelines for self-harm, and
  3. which factors may influence whether or not healthcare professionals implement the guidelines.

Therefore, this project aims to understand the experiences of healthcare professionals when encountering patients at risk of self-harm, and develop an intervention to facilitate the implementation of NICE guidelines for self-harm.

Study 1 comprises a representative survey in which healthcare professionals will report how frequently they encounter patients, and how they typically respond when they believe someone is at risk of self-harm. The survey will capture details about any training or tools they have received to aid their assessment and management of self-harm, and whether or not these resources were sufficient. Existing scales will be used to measure specific factors that could be associated with implementing the guidelines, such as a dislike of them, or an over-confidence in clinical judgement. Finally, the survey will use models of behaviour change to identify the issues that need addressing to improve the implementation of the guidelines.

Study 2 comprises of semi-structured telephone interviews in which healthcare professionals will be able to suggest acceptable solutions to the specific barriers they face when trying to implement the guidelines, while expressing whether or not they think an intervention would be useful and feasible for them in their professional role. This work will form the basis for an intervention to facilitate the implementation of NICE guidelines for self-harm by healthcare professionals.

Past PhD Fellows: Shoba Dawson

21 Feb

In this series, we catch up with past Greater Manchester PSTRC PhD Fellows to see what they are doing now and how their PhD projects affected patient safety. This edition, our past PhD Fellow is Shoba Dawson.

Shoba Dawson_headshotCSFL2387_cropped

What did you learn during your PhD project?

My PhD project explored how patient and public involvement (PPI) in health services research can be made more inclusive from the perspectives of people of South Asian origin and health services researchers.

While I learnt a lot about the topic area, I also learnt the importance of being tenacious and determined to reach the end goal. Through my PhD, I had a unique opportunity to work in collaboration with patient and public contributors, which not only enhanced the quality of my PhD project but was also a rewarding experience.

I believe that doing a PhD helped me to develop as an independent researcher through learning and developing a number of transferable research skills such as: determining the best and most realistic approach to answer a research question, considering the relevance and impact of the research project to diverse stakeholders such as patients, researchers and policymakers, and disseminating work to a wide range of audiences through different formats.

How has your PhD changed the patient safety landscape?

My PhD project was the first to examine the views and experiences of both researchers and South Asians regarding PPI in health services research. The findings addressed some of the gaps in knowledge regarding barriers and facilitators to involving people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in PPI. It also identified some unique issues showing that PPI approaches need to be tailored to the group in question.

I hope my PhD has contributed (even in a small way) to understanding strategies to widening inclusivity in PPI in health services research and patient safety.

What you are doing now and where you see yourself going in your future career?

I work as a senior research associate at the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol. I am working on two reviews in collaboration with researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle.

In the future, I intend to continue to build my research profile in evidence synthesis and contribute to improving primary healthcare services.

PhD Fellow focus: Vicki Moore

21 Feb

Vicki Moore Photo PSTRC

Vicki Moore joined the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC Safer Care Systems and Transitions theme as a PhD Fellow in September 2018. Prior to this she completed an MA in Healthcare Ethics and Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Manchester, before working at the General Medical Council in the Standards and Ethics policy team. Based on her previous academic and work experience, her main research interests lie in healthcare regulation and improving patient safety.

Vicki’s PhD focuses on effective legal and regulatory responses to patient safety incidents at transitions of care, supervised by Dr Sarah Devaney and Dr Gavin Daker-White.

Although it is widely recognised that transitions of care pose a threat to patient safety, to-date the trend has been to focus on improving systems and communication between healthcare professionals. This research will therefore examine the role the legal system and health and social care regulators can play in reducing patient safety incidents at points of care transition; with a focus on learning from error to reduce further incidents.

As part of the PhD a series of articles will be published in order to stimulate discussion amongst academics, clinicians, and regulators. Through doing so, it is intended that this research will contribute to reducing future patient safety incidents at transitions of care.

First event kicks off cross-PSTRC PhD network

20 Feb

by Carly Rolfe

PhD Forum event_networking and posters_cropped

There are three NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs) in England – Greater Manchester, Imperial, and Yorkshire and Humber. Each PSTRC funds a number of PhD Fellows, with the ultimate aim of increasing research capacity and innovation in the field of patient safety.

In order to provide PSTRC PhD Fellows with an opportunity to network, to forge links with other early career researchers and to give and receive feedback on research projects, a cross-centre PSTRC PhD Network was set up.

Led by Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC, the first PSTRC PhD network event took place on 5 February in Leeds. PhD Fellows were invited to give an oral presentation on their own programme of work, with constructive feedback being provided by a panel made up of senior PSTRC researchers and Research Leads.

Other key sessions were led by PSTRC researchers, covering topics as diverse as involving marginalised groups in patient safety research, maximising the impact of research, and the challenges of designing research on the economics of patient safety.

Greater Manchester PSTRC PhD Fellow Ahmed Ashour, said of the event:

“Getting the opportunity to showcase your work and see other students work in an environment like the one at the PhD network is extremely useful and motivational! I left the network meeting feeling inspired by the discussions with plenty of ideas and comments that I could not wait to get to work on!”

A new career in patient safety…thanks to the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Collaborative!

13 Nov

David Mehdizadeh_photo_cropped_small

by David Mehdizadeh

Joining the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Collaborative for me was to gain new insights and new experience in healthcare. I have always had a passion for improving systems and reducing errors, and this collaborative within the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC allowed me to take this one step further. This project certainly took me out of my comfort zone as a community pharmacist, and I relished the opportunity to explore and gain new skills!

Meeting regularly with fellow community pharmacists, and researchers within the Greater Manchester PSTRC at The University of Manchester was a rewarding and unique experience. As healthcare professionals, we all have a responsibility of caring for patients safely, and therefore it was refreshing that we could spend protected time solely on patient safety within our practice. This involved learning elements of “improvement science” for improving work systems, sharing and discussing real life patient safety incidents and reflecting on our experiences, all within a non-judgmental and supportive environment.

One of my highlights was being trained up to develop “safety cases” for our individual pharmacies; identifying problem areas which could lead to patient safety incidents and subsequently targeting areas for improvement. Members of my pharmacy team were really supportive of this, and identified areas for improvement in our dispensing of high risk opioid products. This led to higher quality dispensing in this area, but ultimately changed the culture amongst the team, and encouraged the team to prioritise patient safety, and continually reflect on their practice. This was a real success for our pharmacy, and changed the safety culture for the better.

I would highly recommend other community pharmacists and technicians to get involved with the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Collaborative. You never know what doors this could open for you!

For me, it gave me a platform to explore patient safety further, and to re-evaluate my career goals. This led to me pursue a career in patient safety, and in October 2018 I will be commencing a full-time NIHR PhD studentship at the University of Bradford (in partnership with the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC), with the title “Digital Decision Support for Safer Prescribing.” My experience in the collaborative was instrumental in developing a strong application for this PhD programme, and I am grateful to the team at the Greater Manchester PSTRC for providing me with this opportunity.

New Patient Safety Translational Research Centre PhD network

2 Aug

Young man using laptop with female student watching and smiling

by Karen Considine (Centre Manager, NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC), Kelsey Flott (Centre Manager, NIHR Imperial PSTRC) and Beth Fylan (Programme Manager, NIHR Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC)

PhD students linked to the three NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs) have a new opportunity to register for a PhD student network. The national drive for high quality patient safety research means that the NIHR has now invested in three PSTRCs from 2017-2022. Greater Manchester and Imperial PSTRCs retain their funding and there is now a new third Centre in Yorkshire and Humber. This extension to the PSTRC infrastructure has created opportunities to expand the number of NIHR funded patient safety projects and develop new patient safety research partnerships and networks.

One of these collaborative initiatives is aimed at offering development activities to PhD students by creating a network bringing together PSTRC research students from the three Centres into a dynamic research community. The PSTRC PhD network will encourage students to share information about their research projects and their developing research expertise and then collaborate to develop dissemination plans for their work. The network will be a showcase for the patient safety research projects students are delivering as well as a route to further enhance patient safety research skills by accessing expertise across the PSTRC infrastructure.

Rebecca Lawton, Director of the Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC, said:  “As a new PSTRC we are committed to collaborating with our partners at Manchester and Imperial. We pitched the idea of a PhD network to NIHR and they were extremely supportive. The aim of this network is ensure that the patient safety research leaders of the future have an opportunity to learn from each other and also from the wealth of expertise across the three Centres. I am looking forward to watching the network grow and to learning from the next generation of patient safety researchers ”.

Stephen Campbell, Director of the Greater Manchester PSTRC, said: “Research capacity building is a core and crucial priority for us and all the PSTRCs. The PhD network provides a splendid opportunity for researchers from across the three settings to learn from  each other, research leaders from each site and the importance of collaboration in research”.

Ara Darzi from Imperial PSTRC adds: “Together the three PSTRCs aim to develop evidence based interventions to improve safety across the NHS and health systems abroad. Central to this mission is the training of our students and researchers. This PhD network will provide an opportunity for students across the PSTRCs to collaborate, share insights and create a national network for patient safety research.”

PhD fellow focus: Anna-Sophia Wawera

2 Aug

Anna Sophia Wawera picture_cropped and smaller

by Anna-Sophia Wawera

Anna-Sophia Wawera joined the PSTRC Marginalised Groups theme as a PhD Fellow in April 2018. Before coming to the University of Manchester, she completed a Master of Science in Public Health at Sheffield Hallam University. Throughout her Masters, she was involved in several research projects examining student experience and health-related issues within the university. In addition, she worked for a medical device company in Berlin, Germany, which developed a therapy for patients with long-term conditions causing visual impairments. Based on her previous experience, her main research interests lay in the field of public health promotion among vulnerable population groups, with particular focus on young people and chronic condition management.

Anna’s PhD will focus on supporting and promoting safety in the context of childhood long-term conditions, with Susan Kirk and Caroline Sanders as her lead supervisors. With the rising prevalence of long-term conditions among children and the increasing focus on self-management, a growing number of children are being cared for at home instead of within the hospital setting. While this trend provides many benefits for children, as it enables them to grow up within their family environment, it also poses considerable challenges for primary caregivers, mainly the parents, as they are faced with additional responsibilities related to the care and management of their child’s chronic condition.

To date, this trend towards home-care and the increasing transfer of responsibilities from care professionals to families has been inadequately examined in relation to patient safety and the potential risks it may pose to young people with long-term conditions. This research will therefore examine how children/young people, parents and healthcare professionals perceive, monitor and manage safety within the home setting.  The final  aim is to co-design safety tools in close cooperation with key stakeholders to further support the promotion and improvement of patient safety among this vulnerable population group.