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What is the role of non-executive directors in patient safety oversight in the NHS in England?


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Wednesday 12 June 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
External organisation
Dr Gemma Louch
School of Healthcare
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Do you want to improve the quality and safety of care in the NHS? Do you want to do cutting-edge research with interdisciplinary supervisors and develop a career as a safety scientist? If so, this studentship opportunity will appeal to you. <br /> <br /> One full scholarship is available in the School of Healthcare. This fully funded PhD place provides an exciting opportunity to pursue postgraduate research in patient safety and safety science, with an emphasis on mixed-methods.<br /> <br /> The School of Healthcare invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2024/2025 for a studentship funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration (PSRC). <br /> <br /> The award is open to full-time candidates (UK only) who meet the eligibility for a place on a PhD degree at the School of Healthcare.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>Patient safety remains a persistent worldwide issue across healthcare, despite an explicit policy, practice and research focus for many years. In the National Health Service (NHS) in England, responsibility for the provision of safe and effective services within trusts is held by Boards of Directors. Boards are made up of executive directors who are management staff also appointed to specific roles within the trust, and non-executive directors, externally appointed to hold the management team to account. &nbsp;</p> <p>Executive directors and non-executive directors are expected to work collaboratively concerning activities such as setting priorities and objectives, developing organisational strategy, determining incentives, and designing systems of measurement and monitoring (Chambers et al., 2015). However, realities relating to patient safety governance are acknowledged as complex, messy and variable (Millar et al., 2013).&nbsp;</p> <p>Evidence suggests that trust boards use various &lsquo;hard&rsquo; and &lsquo;soft&rsquo; intelligence data sources to monitor safety within their organisations, yet, members generally lack training in patient safety and limited research attention has been paid to interpersonal dynamics between board members (Mannion et al., 2015). &nbsp;</p> <p>Previous research has demonstrated associations between better board competencies and more positive attitudes towards staff reporting and handling of quality and safety issues, but inconsistent or no association between board competencies and a variety of quality and safety measures (Mannion et al., 2017). &nbsp;</p> <p>The scientific literature is yet to fully explore the role of non-executive directors in relation to patient safety. For example, who they are, what their disciplinary backgrounds and competencies are, what patient safety training they have had, what patient safety matters they are interested in and discuss, if/how they feel able to effectively hold management to account, organisational and external pressures such as regulatory regimes, and ultimately their influence on patient safety. &nbsp;</p> <p>Therefore, this PhD studentship will focus on understanding the influences of those working in non-executive director roles within the NHS. The work of this studentship may include a scoping, systematic or narrative review to understand the evidence surrounding the role of non-executive directors, followed by a mixed-methods survey of those working in non-executive director roles. Further work may then involve an ethnographic phase, in which the PhD candidate will observe and interview non-executive directors in their working environments to deepen understanding of their influence. The final output of the studentship will be a set of core recommendations based on what the NHS can learn from the current influence of non-executive directors, and how their potential can be maximised in relation to patient safety.&nbsp;</p> <p>This PhD studentship will support a wider programme of work seeking to understand the systems of safety within healthcare services. This PhD will contribute specifically to the wider programme of work by exploring how non-executive directors interact with, and are supported or constrained by, the nature of the safety systems and infrastructure within the organisation.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is expected that the candidate will develop methodological skills in reviewing evidence, mixed-methods and ethnography, as well as specialist knowledge in patient safety governance and safety science. The student would be expected to shape the full plan for the thesis with support from the supervisory team.</p> <h5>Environment</h5> <p>The studentship will be based at the <a href="">School of Healthcare</a> at the University of Leeds and the <a href="">NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration</a> (YH PSRC).&nbsp;</p> <p>The YH PSRC is a collaboration between Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Universities of Leeds and Bradford. The YH PSRC is hosted within the <a href="">Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Group</a> at the <a href="">Bradford Institute for Health Research</a>.</p> <p>Our mission is to deliver research to make healthcare safer. We are one of six NIHR Patient Safety Research Collaborations in England. Our work draws on the knowledge and expertise of well-established networks of researchers, patients, carers, clinicians and industry partners to develop ideas that adderss patient safety problems.</p> <p>As a YH PSRC PhD student you will become an NIHR trainee and will benefit from a range of training support and resources to develop knowledge and health research skills. The YH PSRC focusses on four themes: <a href="">Safer systems, cultures and practices</a>; <a href="">De-cluttering (safely) for safety</a>; <a href="">Supporting safe care in the home</a>; and <a href="">Rethinking safety intelligence for improvement</a>. This PhD aligns to the Safer systems, cultures and practices theme of work led by Professor Jane O&#39;Hara and Professor Carl Macrae.</p> <h5>Supervision Team</h5> <p>Dr Gemma Louch (University of Leeds)</p> <p>Dr Laura Sheard (University of York)</p> <p>Dr Lauren Ramsey (NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration)</p> <p>Dr Charlotte Overton (NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration)&nbsp;</p> <h5>Other conditions:</h5> <p>&bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.<br /> &bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Awards must be taken up by 1st October 2024.<br /> &bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds or the Bradford Institute for Health Research whilst in receipt of this scholarship.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>To apply for this scholarship opportunity applicants should complete an <a href="">online application form</a> and attach the following documentation to support their application.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>A full academic CV</li> <li>Degree certificate and transcripts of marks</li> <li>Evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable)</li> </ul> <p>To help us identify that you are applying for this scholarship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;</p> <ul> <li>Select PhD in Healthcare as your programme of study</li> <li>Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert</li> <li>For source of funding please state you are applying for an NIHR Scholarship</li> </ul> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to this scholarship in the School of Healthcare should normally have an Undergraduate degree of 2:1 or above (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject area such as a health-related subject (e.g. pharmacy, nursing etc.), psychology or social science. A Master&rsquo;s degree in a related area (such as Human Factors, Ergonomics, Medical Sociology or Psychology) is desirable, but not essential. The following criteria must also be met: <br /> <br /> &bull; These awards are only available to applicants who are liable to pay academic fees at the home fee rate. <br /> &bull; Applicants should not already have been awarded a doctoral degree. <br /> &bull; Applicants whose first language is not English must meet the Faculty&rsquo;s English Language requirements - <br /> <br /> Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Admissions Team prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Medicine and Health minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests for PhD, MSc, MPhil, MD are: &bull; British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0 &bull; TOEFL iBT - overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>This opportunity is funded by the <a href="">National Institute for Health and Care Research</a> (NIHR). The scholarship will attract an annual tax-free stipend of &pound;19,273 each year for up to 3 years subject to satisfactory progress. Academic fees will also be paid at the UK fee rate. Due to limited funding we can only consider applicants for this position who are eligible for UK fee status.&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about the application process please contact the Admissions team<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For informal enquiries regarding this project please contact Dr Gemma Louch: <a href=""></a></p>