Healthcare scanner for children

Milestone Lecture 2018

Date & timeSaturday, 10 November 3:00pm
LocationTrinity Hall Graham Storey Room
Booking closing date Tuesday, 6 November 10:00am

From firefighting to a systems approach for
health and care improvement.

Many people working to improve health and care are aware of and use systems techniques, leading to improved pathways, processes and patient experience in many areas. Healthcare leaders know intuitively that there is a need to involve stakeholders in decisions, think across pathways and deliver integrated care, and in this lecture, Professor John Clarkson will discuss the lessons that can be learned from the analysis and rigour applied in complex engineering systems.


Over the past two decades, there have been numerous references to the value of a systems approach in calls to transform health and care, without there being a common understanding of what this might mean. John will reflect on his personal experience of acquiring the knowledge and skills of the systems engineer whilst working as a technology consultant and more recently as a researcher in engineering design. Through stories of firefighting, beer, inhalation devices and micromorts he will explore the engineer’s world of systems design and risk.

John will then describe a unique project, based on an extended conversation within a forum of systems engineers, health and care professionals, quality improvement experts and patient representatives, to develop a new and integrated approach to guide service design and improvement in health and care. This project, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians and the Academy of Medical Sciences, brought together ideas from engineering and health and care to define a new framework for improvement.

Finally, John will present this new framework, focusing on the language and terms developed with the health and care professionals. A systems approach will be described as a standalone set of questions, with reference to systems, design, risk and people thinking, and as a design ‘spiral’ borrowed from the world of ship design. The talk will conclude with reflections on the value of pursuing engineering design research in health and care and highlight some of the opportunities and challenges ahead.


Professor John Clarkson

John Clarkson is Professor of Engineering Design.

His research interests are in the general area of engineering design, particularly the development of design methodologies to address specific design issues, for example, process management, change management, healthcare design and inclusive design. As well as publishing over 450 papers, he has written and edited a number of books on medical equipment design and inclusive design.


The Milestone Lecture is free to all those who would like to come along and bookings will be taken on a first come-first served basis until we reach capacity. You are welcome to bring up to three guests with you. The lecture will be followed by tea and biscuits in the Graham Storey Room for all those attending, free of charge.

If you would like to show your support for teaching and research at Trinity Hall, please consider making a donation, which you can do as part of the booking process.

Additional information

Please be aware that we will be filming the lecture from the back of the room. If you would prefer not to be caught on camera, please let a member of staff know when you arrive so we can seat you in an area that won’t be covered by the camera.


If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Liz Pentlow in the Alumni & Development Office on or +44 (0)1223 332567