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 Mike D Williams

Mike D Williams

Senior Research Fellow in Heath Services Research - ISR


Level 2
Building:One, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4ST, UK

Mike joined the University of Exeter Business School in 2007 as a Senior Research Fellow and completed his PhD in Patient Safety in 2011. He is also an Associate Lecturer with the Exeter Medical School where he teaches on leadership, service improvement and patient safety. Prior to joining the University Mike was the Chief Executive of the Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust. He has held a number of senior appointments in the NHS including Chief Executive of the Radcliffe Infirmary and later the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals. He has been a Director of the Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority, CEO of the North Oxfordshire PCTs, and Director of Operations at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospitals. In October 2012 he was appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust. He brings considerable strategic and operational experience to the School and has been a guest lecturer on a number of modules.

His PhD examined how a system resilience approach can improve our understanding about how to improve patient safety in NHS hospitals. Mike has been the leadership advisor to the NHS South West Strategic Health Authority in the patient safety development programme and was a core team member of the Patient Safety First Campaign. Mike conducts research within the NHS on the link between the operational management of hospitals and patient safety.

Mike is also a self supporting Priest in the Anglican Church, assisting in the Parishes of Topsham and Countess Wear in the Diocese of Exeter. As a former officer in the Royal Marines, he spent seven years as a Trustee of the Royal British Legion, which finished in 2012.


PhD in Management Studies, University of Exeter (2011)
MA in Christian Spirituality from University of London (2002)
BA in Theology from Exeter (1986)


Research interests

  • System influences on patient safety
  • System resilience
  • Leadership of patient safety
  • Application of the theory of constraints in health care

Resilience is an approach in which organisations anticipate, adapt to as well as respond to disruption or continuous stress. Keeping patients safe in the face of high demand, shortage of beds and staff is not easy. Mike’s research seeks to understand the key aspects of hospital operational performance and decision making that can safeguard patients during times of high demand for inpatient services.

Previous experience of using the Theory of Constraints (TOC) in healthcare has shown significant step changes in performance and cost containment. Mike is exploring the opportunities to research into how TOC can be applied to improving the quality and safety of healthcare and social care systems.

Research projects

Current research proposals include testing measures of system resilience in hospitals in both the UK and India. Other projects include the hermeneutical study of NHS policy documents (Operating Frameworks) to ascertain the balance of priorities and how they have changed over the last six years. He is also involved in a research project with PCMD starting in October 2011, looking at how different models of emergency assessment in hospitals influence admission rates and the safety of patients.

External positions

  • Non-Executive Director, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Associate Lecturer – Exeter Medical School
  • Priest in the Diocese of Exeter

Mike is a guest teacher on the MBA and other Masters courses. He teaches clinical leadership to junior doctors on the Deanery Professional Skills Programme.