My PhD in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, explores how front-line local authority and NHS staff groups work together to achieve appropriate discharges for vulnerable older people who are not able to return to their own homes.

Before starting my PhD, I worked as a child care social worker for 15 years following the completion of my Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) at Leeds University in the 1980s. I subsequently retrained as a solicitor and have worked in local authorities for 20 years, initially as a public law child care lawyer before moving to, and managing, a team of adult social care lawyers. The work, in part, involved advising senior managers around issues of risk in policy development and implementation. 

The opportunity to work closely with NHS and local authority colleagues to develop policies around shared statutory responsibilities and the development of integrated approaches to service delivery for vulnerable or disadvantaged groups highlighted the similarities, and the differences, between the two sectors. It is within this context that I became interested in the difficulties faced by frontline staff trying to do what they professionally regarded as the best they could for their clients whilst not always successfully navigating the bureaucracies of their respective organisations. These bureaucracies sit within the larger political and ideological contexts of increasing demand, ageing demographics and resource scarcity. 

Research interests

My PhD explores how the relationships between frontline local authority and NHS workers, their managements structures and the policy contexts within which they work, operate to achieve, or otherwise, the identified outcome of timely discharges from hospitals to residential settings of vulnerable older people.

Professional staff groups such as social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses all strive to ensure that vulnerable older people in their care receive the services that they require to maintain their dignity and meet their needs. However, Department of Health and Social Care date repeatedly shows that the system fails to ensure that their discharge into an appropriate care setting is achieved within a time scale that is appropriate for each individual. New guidance regarding ways of working and stringent measurement of activity has not led to the improvements sought.

I am interested in determining whether bureaucratic systems designed to produce certain outcomes inadvertently negatively impact upon what they set out to achieve. Can a loosening of centralised control, relying instead on localised professionalism, produce better outcomes for this group of citizens? Can a Realist methodology be deployed to facilitate the development of site-specific professional practices and procedures related to service delivery which produce better outcomes and experiences for those using the services.


  • MA Social and Public Policy (Leeds University)
  • Law Society Finals (LSF) (Leeds Metropolitan University)
  • Diploma in Applied Social Studies (Leeds University)
  • BA (Hons) Social Policy and Administration (Leeds University)