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Dr Christopher Sirrs


Email: christopher dot sirrs at warwick dot ac dot uk


Academic Profile

  • 2019-present: Research Fellow, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick
  • 2018-2019: Research Fellow, Centre for History in Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • 2015-2018: Research Assistant, Centre for History in Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • 2011-2016: PhD Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • 2009-2010: MA History of Medicine, University College London
  • 2004-2007: BSc (Hons) Anthropology, University College London

Research Interests

  • Twentieth-century medicine
  • Public health
  • International and global health
  • International organisations
  • Health systems
  • Health services
  • Epidemiology
  • Health economics
  • Occupational health
  • Environmental health
  • Health and safety regulation
  • Patient safety
  • Risk

Research Overview

My research interests as a historian are diverse, encompassing the history of medicine, public health, risk, and safety. To date, my research has been largely focused at the intersection between contemporary history and health policy.

My current research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, explores the history of 'safety' in the British National Health Service. As Covid-19 has dramatically brought to the fore, the safety of patients and the health and safety of hospital staff are interlinked. 'Hazardous Hospitals: Cultures of Safety in NHS General Hospitals, c.1960-Present' explores the development of ideas, norms, values and practices around safety in NHS hospitals. These include policies around patient and staff consultation, to reporting and learning systems, clinical audit, whistleblowing procedures, risk assessment, and campaigns around various hazards.

Previously, I have investigated the emergence of anxieties around 'fake' drugs in global health, and the intellectual and policy history of 'health systems' thinking. My research has involved examining the role of international agencies such as the World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation and World Bank, as well as national regulatory agencies such as the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE). My PhD, completed in 2016, explored the historical development of the British system of health and safety regulation: a theme I am now continuing to explore, in the domain of hospitals.


I am a lecturer on the 30 CATS first-year taught option Mind, Body & Society (HI176), and a tutor for MA modules Themes and Methods in Medical History (HI907) and Matters of Life and Death: Topics in the Medical Humanities (HI991).


(Correspondence) With Sarah Hodges et al., ‘When Suspicion Replaces Evidence in Public Health’, The Lancet 398, no. 10311 (30 October 2021): 1565–66,

'The Health of Nations: International Health Accounting in Historical Perspective, 1925-2011' in Axel Huntelmann and Oliver Falk (eds), Accounting for Health: Calculation, Paperwork and Medicine, 1500-2000 (Manchester University Press, 2021) [accepted version].

With Martin Gorsky, '"Universal Health Coverage" as a Global Public Health Goal: the work of the International Labour Organisation, c.1925-2018', História, Ciências, Saúde - Manguinhos 27, suppl. (2020), 71-93 [open access].

'Promoting Health Protection Worldwide: The International Labour Organisation and Health Systems Financing, 1952-2012', The International History Review (2019) [open access].

With Martin Gorsky, 'From "Planning" to "Systems Analysis": Health Services Strengthening at the World Health Organisation, 1952-1975', Dynamis 39, 1 (2019), 205-233 [open access].

With Martin Gorsky, 'The Rise and Fall of "Universal Health Coverage" as a Goal of International Health Politics, 1925-1952', American Journal of Public Health 108, 3 (2018), 334-342.

With Martin Gorsky, 'World Health By Place: The Politics of International Health System Metrics, 1924-c.2010', Journal of Global History 12, 3 (2017), 361-385 [open access].

'Risk, Responsibility and Robens: The Transformation of the British System of Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, 1961-1974' in Tom Crook and Mike Esbester (eds), Governing Risk in Modern Britain, 1800-2000 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) [accepted version].

'Accidents and Apathy: The Construction of the ‘Robens Philosophy’ of Occupational Safety and Health Regulation in Britain, 1961–1974', Social History of Medicine 29, 1 (2016), 66-88 [open access].

(Book Review) 'Soraya Boudia and Nathalie Jas (eds), Toxicants, Health and Regulation since 1945', Social History of Medicine, 27, 1 (2014), 177–178.

Blog Posts

Martin Gorsky and Christopher Sirrs, 'Human Rights/Human Capital: A Hundred Years of 'Universal' Health Coverage as a Global Goal', Somatosphere, May 27, 2020.


Health and Safety in the British Regulatory State: The HSC, HSE and the Management of Occupational Risk, 1961-2001, PhD thesis, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2016) [open access].