Meet the Expert

Professor Sally Sheard – Health and Social Policy Historian

Portrait of Professor Sally Sheard

Sally is Professor of History of Medicine and sits in both the Department of History and the Institute of Psychology Health and Society. Although she graduated in Geography, her research is now mainly concerned with the interface between experts and policymakers in 20th century health policy. After spending five years experimenting with mixing history and biography writing the Life of Brian (Brian Abel-Smith, one of Britain’s first special advisers), she is currently leading a five year project on the Governance of Health in Britain since 1948, which is supported by her Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award.

The Wellcome Trust are excellent to work with, and encourage researchers to tackle ‘risky’ research questions and to explore new methodological approaches

Sally commented: ‘The Wellcome Trust are excellent to work with, and encourage researchers to tackle ‘risky’ research questions and to explore new methodological approaches. I was fortunate to spend four months at Harvard in 2015, improving my working knowledge of US health economics and health services, to better understand why the NHS has intermittently looked to the US for policy ideas.’

Sally was an early adopter of public and policy engagement at Liverpool. In 1997 she directed a year-long programme of events to celebrate 150 years of public health, which included working as a guest curator with National Museums Liverpool, commissioning a play, artwork, and a special Royal Mail post frank. She had a long-standing collaboration with Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England, which produced a jointly-authored book and stimulated Whitehall discussions on the recent reduction in the medical civil service.

She enjoys her work as one of the senior editors at the web-based initiative, History and Policy, which presents academic research in accessible formats for policymakers and the media. Sally always welcomes opportunities to work with students and early career researchers and enjoys doing occasional lectures and policy engagement workshops. She’s trying not to get too distracted from her current book project: a study of shortening length of hospital stays in the 20th century.

Sally is also Director of the Centre for the Humanities and Social Sciences of Health, Medicine and Technology, bringing together leading research which explores how arts, creativity and critical scholarship enhance our understandings of medical and scientific practice.

When she remembers, she tweets @SallyBSheard, and writes (very) intermittent blog post: ‘An academic adventure’.

Research papers

Can we never learn? Complainst, abuse and inquiries in the NHS

Doctors in Whitehall: medical advisers at th 60th anniverasy of the NHS

Panic over Ebola echoes the 19th-century fear of cholera (PDF)

Profit is a dirty word: Development of public baths & wash-houses in Britain 1847-1915 (PDF)

James Newlands and th origins of the municipal engineer (PDF)

A creature of its time: the critical history of the creation of the British NHS