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
Hi there, my name is Leonie
Brinkmann. I am a German pharmacist and started my PhD at the University of
Manchester about two years ago. I work in the field of health economics. Health
economics is a branch of economics that tries to evaluate health care services
or new medications from an economic perspective without neglecting the value of
health. This combines a medical background knowledge, data analysis and
statistics. I myself, for example, focus on patient safety. Using big data sets of electronic health
records I try to identify specific patients with medication errors to see how
many of the medication errors lead to harm for the patient.
I am a pharmacist by background and
did my undergraduate at the University of Heidelberg. Pharmacy is a great
subject that combines biology, chemistry, physiology and pharmacology. I was
always interested in medicines and diseases, but I cannot see blood. So
studying medicine was off the table, but pharmacy happened to be the prefect
I enjoyed my
undergraduate a lot, but it included long hours in the laboratory. Lab work was
never something I enjoyed. I found it rather boring… But luckily as pharmacist
you have loads of other opportunities in community pharmacies, industry,
hospital or research.
I was very lucky to get a job as
clinical pharmacist in a hospital. My main objective was to increase patient
safety on the wards. I had a great time going from ward to ward, identifying
patients with medication errors, and telling the doctors or nurses off that
made the error. It always felt a bit
like being the safety police of the hospital.
But at some point I felt like I
wanted to study again, I wanted to learn something new and be challenged a bit
more. That’s when I decided to do a PhD. I found a great project that took the
work I was doing in the hospital on a small scale to another level. Before I
was looking through the patient’s health records by hand, now I am evaluating a
computer programme that automatically screens all electronic health records of
a patient and identifies medication errors. The pharmacists does not need to
screen each patient, but can focus on how to communicate medication errors to
the responsible doctor.
The burden of
medication errors is estimated to be about £89.1 million per year for the NHS.
This highlights how important it is for the NHS to invest in programmes that
aim to reduce medication errors. But
unfortunately, the NHS does not have endless money to fund great ideas like
this. That’s where health economics becomes interesting, because we can show
the value of money of the new computer programme. To do so I am using
electronic health records from GP-practices and hospitals to investigate the
relationship between medication errors, patient harm and costs. Quantifying the
burden of medication errors enables us to estimate the true value for money of
the computer programme. Results on the value for money of such programmes aims
to aid decision making by policy makers on
whether to fund such programmes or not.
So if you like numbers, you are not
scared of statistics and you want to make the NHS a bit safer, this is the
perfect opportunity for you!
Learn more about Pharmacy https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/pharmacy/
Little introduction video to understand what health
economics is about (only 3 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUay9DV__G0
Learn more about what we do as health economists in our
What are electronic health records that I use in my PhD
Why are health records important for research? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNbe3-d3KdQ