Photo of Dr Paul Atkinson

Dr Paul Atkinson BA (Hons), PhD

Senior Research Fellow Public Health, Policy & Systems


    Personal Statement

    I am a social and cultural historian of health in Britain since 1800, with interests in demography, the family, quantitative methods and oral history. My career goal is to apply my research skills in a range of research environments including academia and health policy, translating the findings of my research into better policy and better population health outcomes. Since February 2017 I have been based at the University of Liverpool in the Department of Public Health and Policy (Institute of Psychology, Health and Society). After a First in Modern History at Oxford, I spent twenty years in the British civil service and on secondment to the European Commission, working on public health, health system reform, regulation of the health professions and the financing of the National Health Service. My PhD in History was awarded by the University of Leeds in 2010 for a thesis on the cultural factors affecting the decline in working-class fertility in late nineteenth-century Britain: I have a contract for a book on this for Boydell and Brewer’s ‘People, Markets, Goods: Economies and Societies in History’ series. I have recently had a major article on rural infant mortality in the nineteenth century published by the Economic History Review, and have also published in journals including the Journal of Interdisciplinary History and Demographic Research.

    My research trajectory focusses on the area where science, policy and healthcare meet, with an emphasis on Britain since the Second World War, for example the recent history of England’s National Health Service, specifically health services research since the 1980s. This work sets out to influence future health research policy by helping policy makers understand ‘how we got here’. My work led Universities UK to convene a high level health research policy seminar in May 2018 at which I presented findings and contributed to discussion with policy makers about the relevance of history to future policy directions.

    I also work for the Health Protection Research Unit on Emerging and Zoonotic Infections in Liverpool's Institute of Infection and Global Health (IIGH), supporting Professor Tom Solomon on policy impact activities. With IIGH and colleagues in East Africa, I am developing a research project on the history of global policies for the fight against antimicrobial resistance in humans and food animals. I also maintain an interest in the historical development of health inequalities in Britain, and in the history and efficacy of measures to reduce them.