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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 healthLink opens in a new window, and the intellectual and policy history of 'health systems' thinkingLink opens in a new window. 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).


Christopher Sirrs, ‘Fluid Fakes, Contested Counterfeits: The World Health Organisation’s Engagement with Fake Drugs, 1948–2017’, Medicine Anthropology Theory, forthcoming September 2023.

Martin Gorsky and Christopher Sirrs, ‘The World Bank’s Advocacy of User Fees in Global Health, c.1970–1997: More Ideology than Evidence?’, in Iris Borowy and Bernard Harris, eds, Health and Development. Yearbook for the History of Development, vol. 2 (Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2023), opens in a new window.

Christopher Sirrs, ‘Taking Action Against Medical Accidents: A Brief History of AvMA and Clinical Risk Management in the NHS’, Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management, 2022, opens in a new window.

Martin Gorsky and Christopher Sirrs, ‘“Universal Health Coverage” as a Global Public Health Goal: The Work of the International Labour Organisation, c.1925–2018’, História, Ciências, Saúde—Manguinhos, 2020, opens in a new window.

Christopher Sirrs, ‘Promoting Health Protection Worldwide: The International Labour Organisation and Health Systems Financing, 1952–2012’, The International History Review, 2019, opens in a new window.

Martin Gorsky and Christopher Sirrs, ‘From “Planning” to “Systems Analysis”: Health Services Strengthening at the World Health Organization, 1952-1975’, Dynamis, 2019,

Christopher Sirrs, ‘The Health of Nations: International Health Accounting in Historical Perspective, 1925–2011’, in Axel Hüntelmann and Oliver Falk, eds, Accounting for Health: Economic Practices and Medical Knowledge, 1500–2000 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021), opens in a new window.

Martin Gorsky and Christopher Sirrs, ‘The Rise and Fall of “Universal Health Coverage” as a Goal of International Health Politics, 1925–1952’, American Journal of Public Health, 2018,

Martin Gorsky and Christopher Sirrs, ‘World Health by Place: The Politics of International Health System Metrics, 1924–c.2010’, Journal of Global History, 2017, opens in a new window.

Christopher Sirrs, ‘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 Risks in Modern Britain: Danger, Safety and Accidents, c. 1800–2000 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), opens in a new window.

Christopher Sirrs, ‘Accidents and Apathy: The Construction of the “Robens Philosophy” of Occupational Safety and Health Regulation in Britain, 1961–1974’, Social History of Medicine, 2016, opens in a new window.


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

Book Reviews

'Soraya Boudia and Nathalie Jas (eds), Toxicants, Health and Regulation since 1945'Link opens in a new window, 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.Link opens in a new window


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