skip to content

Engineering Design Centre


Principal Research Associate

Research group: Health Systems Design
Telephone: +44 1223 765107
Email: jrw38


  • BEng, Manufacturing Engineering, Warwick University
  • CEng, Engineering Council
  • PhD, University of Cambridge

James' research involves applying the learning from fields such as engineering and ergonomics to the National Health Service (NHS), with a view to enhancing quality and particularly patient safety. He is particularly interested in how design can be used to improve patient safety, through designing not just products, but environments, information and systems. Current projects include:
- Evaluation of the impact of a new product range of packaging and labelling for a pharmaceutical manufacturer. A variety of stakeholders are being consulted, from workers in warehousing, through pharmacists and dispensers in community pharmacies to patients and carers in private homes (2005-2006).
- The Department of Health is funding a research project to identify a range of prospective risk analysis techniques and to test their applicability to the NHS (2006-present).

Past projects include:
- Development of a "Good Design Practice" workbook for the medical device design industry, providing guidance on how to manage the design verification process, when designing medical devices (2001). See: Here
- "Design for Patient Safety" (2002-3). This project was funded by the Department of Health and the Design Council, to investigate how thinking from the world of design could be used to improve patient safety in the NHS. 10,000 copies of the report have been distributed across the NHS.
The research received backing from the UK's Chief Medical Officer, and in 2005 was awarded the Ergonomics Society President's Medal.
- "Methotrexate" (2003-4). This project was funded by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), and investigated the impact of medicines packaging and labelling design on patients. As a result, the NPSA published a Patient Safety Alert in 2004.

Biographical information:
James completed his degree in manufacturing engineering in 1996. He has worked as a designer for Cambridge Consultants Ltd. in the UK and Sofraco Engineering, in Australia.
His PhD focused on the design verification process for medical devices - how should they be verified, what parts should be verified and when in the design process? This research led to the publication of the workbook mentioned above.
Since then his research has focused on working with the NHS to investigate how design-thinking can assist health care practitioners in their care of patients.

Selected publications

Early, F., Wilson, P., Deaton, C., Wellwood, I., Dickerson, T., Ward, J.R., Et al. (2018) Developing an intervention to increase REferral and uptake TO pulmonary REhabilitation in primary care in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (the REsTORE study): mixed methods study protocol” in BMJ Open, [Accepted]

Clarkson, P.J., Dean, J., Ward, J.R., Komashie, A.K. And Bashford, T. (2018) ‘A systems approach to healthcare: from thinking to practice’ in Future Healthcare Journal, 5(3), 151-155

Kaya, G.K., Ward, J.R. And Clarkson, P.J. (2018) ‘A review of risk matrices used in acute hospitals in England’ in Risk Analysis [Epub available]

Kaya, G.K., Ward, J.R. And Clarkson, P.J. (2018) A framework to support risk assessment in hospitals. International Journal for Quality in Health Care [Epub available]

Simsekler, M.C.E., Ward, J.R., Kaya, G.K. And Clarkson, P.J. (2018) ‘Evaluating Inputs of Failure Modes and Effects Analysis in Identifying Patient Safety Risks’ in International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance.  [Accepted]

Simsekler, M.C.E., Ward, J.R., And Clarkson, P.J. (2018) ‘Design for Patient Safety: A systems-based risk identification framework’ in Ergonomics, 61(8), 1046-1064

Simsekler, M.C.E., Ward, J.R., And Clarkson, P.J. (2018) ‘Evaluation of system mapping approaches in identifying patient safety risks’ in International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 30(3), 227-233

Chatzimichailidou, M. M., Ward, J., Horberry, T., & Clarkson, P. J. (2018) ‘A Comparison of the Bow-Tie and STAMP Approaches to Reduce the Risk of Surgical Instrument Retention’ in Risk Analysis, 38(5), 978-990

Jun, G.T., Canham, A., Altuna-Palacios, A., Ward, J.R., Bhamra, R., Rogers, S. Dutt, A. And Shah, P. (2018) ‘A participatory systems approach to design for safer integrated medicine management’ in Ergonomics, 61(1), 48-68

Contact Details

Available for consultancy