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Learning from Failure in the Reporting of Service Improvement

School of Social Policy

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Dr L Williams No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is your opportunity to join a growing and thriving research community at the Health Services Management Centre in the School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham. As part of our world-leading research on the organisation and management of health and care services, we are recruiting a PhD Studentship on the theme of NHS leadership development.

Context of research

In health care, learning from failure is just as important as learning from success. However, there is often pressure on service improvement projects to report ‘success’, which can lead to inaccurate reporting and a distorted evidence base. 

This research project

This research will focus on understanding and making recommendations for how we report the outcomes of service improvement processes, and in particular how we can use this to maximise learning from improvement initiatives that don’t go according to plan.


This prestigious studentship is funded by the Health Foundation ‘THIS Institute’ and includes fees, a stipend (£22k per annum) and funding for attendance at conferences. The successful applicant will benefit from training, development and networking provided by THIS Institute, as well as the expertise, support and resources available at the University of Birmingham. They will be supervised by Dr Iestyn Williams and Professor Justin Waring. We recognise that doctoral study is very challenging due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. In light of these challenges, we have developed robust supports for postgraduate research students, and we will support the successful candidate to ensure they are able to progress in their studies in a safe and timely manner.


Applicants should be exceptional UK students with an interest in improving quality and safety and/or leadership development in healthcare. Applicants must have an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) and hold or expect to obtain a Masters level qualification. Applications are encouraged for both full and part-time study.

How to apply:

Candidates should submit a formal application for a PhD in Health Services Management using this link to our admissions system.

Please ensure that you include the following items in your application: 

·      A CV and short covering letter providing information about your background, qualifications and why you are well suited for one of the fellowship posts

·      a statement of approximately 1000 words explaining why you wish to study this topic and what contribution you would hope to make (e.g. to theory, policy or practice)

Period of post: 27th September 2021 for 3 years


For further details about the studentship, please contact Dr Iestyn Williams at [Email Address Removed]

For questions related to making your application, please contact Abbie Price in the Doctoral Programmes Office: [Email Address Removed]

Please note that these email addresses are given for enquiries only. If you wish to make an application for these opportunities, you must make a formal application following the process outlined in the “How to apply” section above.

Funding Notes

This prestigious studentship is funded by the Health Foundation ‘THIS Institute’ and includes fees, a stipend (£22k per annum) and funding for attendance at conferences.
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