Our research spans both public health and health services and their twentieth and twenty first century history.  We are interested in public health and health services in the UK and further afield.  We have particular expertise in the changing make up of health services and health systems, in public health in post-war Britain, and the history of substance use.  For a full list of our current research projects, see below or use the search function.


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Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000: Provision for Public Engagement

Funder: Wellcome Trust via University of Warwick
Date: 16/06/2017 – 15/06/2019
Principal Investigator:  Virginia Berridge
Staff:  Janet Weston

Description: This grant was part of a larger ‘Provision for Public Engagement within Research Grants’ award from the Wellcome Trust. Working with media company Digital Drama, we developed oral histories around HIV/AIDS and prison in the Republic of Ireland into an audio docudrama, which was launched at public events in London and Dublin to coincide with World AIDS Day, 1 December 2017. The docudrama is now available on the project website.

HIV/AIDS and prisons in England and Ireland

Funder:  Wellcome Trust
Dates: March 2016 – February 2018
Principal Investigators:  Professor Virginia Berridge, LSHTM;  Hilary Marland, University of Warwick and Dr Catherine Cox, University College, Dublin.
Staff:  Janet Weston

Description: This study explores how prisons and the prison medical service responded to HIV/AIDS from the 1980s in England and Ireland. The crisis of HIV highlighted the pre- existing tensions concerning health in prisons. Initially the restrictive Viral Infectivity Regulations (VIR) were used, isolating people with AIDS in some prisons. This approach contrasted with the more liberal responses being adopted outside prisons. The debates about harm reduction strategies for gay men and drug users in prison brought human rights issues to a head and highlighted the contested boundary between health and criminal justice. The power of the Prisons Officers Association (POA) in England underlined the local variations in prison policy and the relative weakness of the prison health system. Research was difficult to undertake in prisons but acted as a spur to change. The study will investigate whether AIDS and associated sexual health and drug issues became catalysts for a dawning recognition of the rights of prisoner patients and for more health focussed approaches.

This research is part of the Investigator Award, Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland,1850-2000 held by Professor Hilary Marland University of Warwick and Dr Catherine Cox University College, Dublin and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Health Systems in History: ideas, comparisons, policies

Funder: Wellcome Trust
Date: 1st September 2015 – 27th August 2022
Principal Investigator: Dr Martin Gorsky
Staff:  John Manton, Chris Sirrs, Hayley Brown and Erica Nelson

Description: The overarching purpose of this award is to provide an intellectual and policy history of ‘health systems’ thinking. The term implies a holistic conception of the organisational structures within which medicine is financed, provided and regulated in modern states. It depicts these as an interlinked set of relationships, which, once identified and measured, may be modified in the ongoing quest for greater efficiency, effectiveness and equity. But how did this idea arise? What work has it done? And how can we apply it historically? This award aims to find out, and it will do so through four inter-linked projects.

Placing the Public in Public Health: Public Health in Britain 1948-2010

Funder: Wellcome Trust
Date: 2nd September 2013 – 29th February 2020
Principal Investigator: Dr Alex Mold
Staff:  Gareth Millward, Daisy Payling, Hannah Elizabeth Kershaw and Peder Clark, and Suzanne Taylor

Description: The place of the public within public health is a critical issue for contemporary public health in Britain.  Whether it involves appealing to individuals to stop smoking, or asking patients what they think of health services, the ‘public’ is constantly constructed and reconstructed within public health policy and practice.  This project seeks to historicise these concerns, aiming to explore and explain the changing place of the public within public health in post-war Britain.



Temperance: History, current and future alcohol policy

This is a bibliographical database, developed for the literature review section of the project.
The aim was to cover key interpretive writing on temperance in its heyday of the nineteenth century, but also to analyse how temperance concerns and ideologies changed over time; how temperance networks were reconstituted and how the practical politics of temperance changed. The literature review also encompassed the twentieth century and the period after the Second World War, a period when temperance concerns took new forms.

The search for relevant sources encompassed the British Library, the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, Senate House Library, (University of London), the Institute of Alcohol Studies, and the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Washington, USA. Other bibliographic sources utilised included, the Pubmed database, Alcohol and Temperance History e-mail network, the journal the Social History of Alcohol Review, as well as contacts with leading historians of alcohol who provided suggestions for ‘key readings’.

The search unearthed a total of 1170 sources, including primary material. Of these 214 are secondary sources related specifically to the project for which each entry includes full biographical details, as well as abstracts and location of the source. The database can be searched by keywords for example, women, religion or science.

For further information or to arrange an appointment to view any of these databases please contact:
Ingrid James or Virginia Berridge

The British Voluntary Hospitals Database

This  database encompasses surviving statistics of British and Irish voluntary hospitals up to 1948.

Before the NHS began in 1948 many of hospitals in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales were within the voluntary sector. These included the major centres of general acute medicine, notably hospitals with medical schools, along with special hospitals providing care for particular groups of diseases, and the cottage hospitals which flourished in small towns and rural areas. Voluntary hospitals were characterised by their independent status and their reliance on philanthropy and other private sources of funding. They were administered by committees of lay governors serving in a volunteer capacity and were staffed largely by physicians and surgeons working in honorary and unpaid posts.


Oral history of community pharmacy

This database encompasses 50 life story interviews of mainly retired community pharmacists undertaken by Stuart Anderson between 1996 and 1998. They were deposited as part of the National Life Stories collection at the National Sound Archive of the British Library, Series C816.

Oral history of hospital pharmacy

This database encompasses 50 life story interviews of mainly retired hospital pharmacists undertaken by Stuart Anderson between 1999 and 2001. They were deposited as part of the National Life Stories collection at the National Sound Archive of the British Library, Series C917.