I'm Vicki. I'm a second year PhD student in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence
here at the University of Manchester. I'm also part of the Greater Manchester
Patient Safety Translational Research Centre - yes, it's a very long name! The
'translational' bit means that we are developing and testing new ideas and
approaches to patient safety. My research aims to understand how effective our
healthcare regulation system is at keeping patients safe when they leave
Before starting my PhD I studied for my undergraduate degree in
Philosophy, and a master's degree in Healthcare Ethics and Law. I had no idea
when I graduated with my Philosophy degree that I’d end up where I am now. I
worked for a charity as a Fundraising Manager and studied for my master’s
degree via distance-learning. My master’s was helpful for me in switching job
roles – after graduating I spent a few years working for the General Medical
Council, which regulates doctors in the UK. This really sparked my passion for
healthcare ethics, regulation, and patient safety!
After that I applied for my PhD, which is funded by the National
Institute of Health Research. Unlike a traditional PhD, my PhD is 'by
publication'. This means that rather than writing one huge piece of writing, I
produce a series of shorter articles to be published in academic journals. But
these articles still need to relate to each other under a common theme! At the
end, they will form the middle chapter of my PhD, sandwiched between an
introduction and a conclusion.
of the main aims of healthcare regulation is to keep patients safe. This is
done by several different regulators in the UK. Some regulate healthcare
professionals (like doctors and nurses), whilst others regulate healthcare
providers (such as hospitals). The common theme of my research is how do all of
these regulators make sure patients are kept safe when they leave hospitals?
You might be surprised to learn that leaving hospital can be a really dangerous
time for patients, especially the elderly! I’m nearly halfway through my
research but I already have several ideas for how regulators could be doing
more to keep patients safe.
A friend once said to me
that when choosing her career 'it matters that it matters'. She meant it was important that her work made
a real difference to people's lives. It’s an odd quote but it sums up how I
feel about my research! I hope that it will be useful in improving safety for
patients at a time when they should be going safely home.
a useful introduction to the variety of topics that philosophy examines, see here.
- Visit this blog by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, to learn
more about the field of bioethics.
can read about my research centre here.
- Find out more about the exciting work Greater
Manchester are doing to improve patient safety.
more information on distance-learning see here
My name’s Richard Gibson and I am a third year PhD candidate
in Bioethics & Medical Jurisprudence in The University of Manchester Law
School. My research examines the social, ethical and legal implications of
allowing people to have their limbs amputated when there is nothing medically
wrong with them. In short, if you wanted to make yourself impaired or disabled,
what arguments exists to support or refute such a decision. In addition to my
research I also work as a teaching assistant on the Jurisprudence (more
commonly known as philosophy of law) course.
In all honesty, I am not sure how I ended up being based in
a school of law, especially given that my background isn’t in law but philosophy.
My A-levels were in Psychology, Biology, ICT and Photography but after
finishing sixth-form I didn’t go straight to university. I took several years
out working in various jobs before finally accepting an offer to study
Philosophy at the University of the West of England; a subject that I picked
slightly at random. It was here that I became interested in ethics and the ways
in which we come to understand what makes decisions right and wrong, good and
bad. When I graduated, I took another couple of years out from education to
work and travel before being awarded a place on the newly formed master’s
programme in Bioethics & Society at King’s College London. It was here that
my interest in ethics was combined with the biological sciences, and
specifically, the concept of human (dis)enhancement. Again, after graduating
from here, I took a couple of years out to work in a variety of roles, to
travel more and enjoy life, before finally making my way to Manchester and the
PhD project on which I currently work.
The project I work on looks to examine what reasons we have
to refuse the request of someone wanting to make themselves impaired or
disabled, and why we have such reasons in the first place. This is important
because the question isn’t a hypothetical one; there are people who wish to
transition from a state of ‘health’ to one of disability and impairment and,
currently, there exists little research into this topic and practically no
guidance on how we should respond to such desires. This is what my work tries
to change. I’m attempting to provide clear moral arguments on why such requests
should, or should not, be respected. In addition to this ethical component, my
research also examines the legality of such requests. For example, if a surgeon
amputated a person’s leg because they wanted it gone, would that surgeon be
subject to criminal prosecution, and if not, why?
My work is highly interdisciplinary and draws upon the work
and theories of scholars and researchers from a vast range of subjects
including philosophy, law, disability studies, medicine, biotechnology,
robotics, psychology, and sociology.
For a good introduction to the varied topics that philosophy
examines, see here.
To read more about the field of bioethics, in its various
forms, check out this blog by
the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an internationally recognised leader in the
For a guide to the people who wish to transition into
disability and impairment, see this article
You can read about my research centre here.
And, of course, you can follow my work on twitter at @RichardBGibson!