skip to primary navigation skip to content

Engineering Design Centre

Dr James Ward


Dr James Ward

Dr James Ward

Principal Research Associate

Research group: Healthcare Design Group
Telephone: +44 1223 765107

Photo of Dr James Ward


  • 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. See: Here
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

Please see here for a full list:

Most recent publications:

O'Kelly, E and Arora, A and Pirog, S and Ward, J and Clarkson, PJ (2021) Comparing the fit of N95, KN95, surgical, and cloth face masks and assessing the accuracy of fit checking. PLoS ONE, 16. e0245688-.

Kaya, GK and Ward, J and Pearman, A and Clarkson, J (2021) Evaluation of the formal risk assessment practice in hospitals in England. Journal of Risk Research, 24. pp. 771-779. ISSN 1366-9877

O'Kelly, E and Pirog, S and Ward, J and Clarkson, PJ (2020) Ability of fabric face mask materials to filter ultrafine particles at coughing velocity. BMJ Open, 10. e039424-e039424.

O'Kelly, E and Arora, A and Pearson, C and Ward, J and Clarkson, PJ (2020) Performing Qualitative Mask Fit Testing without a Commercial Kit: Fit Testing Which can be Performed at Home and at Work. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. pp. 1-12.

Komashie, A and Ward, J and Bashford, T and Dickerson, T and Kaya, GK and Liu, Y and Kuhn, I and Günay, A and Kohler, K and Boddy, N and O'Kelly, E and Masters, J and Dean, J and Meads, C and Clarkson, PJ (2020) Systems approach to health service design, delivery and improvement: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open, 11. e037667-e037667.

Lame, G and Liberati, E and Burt, J and Draycott, T and Winter, C and Ward, J and Dixon-Woods, M (2019) IMproving the practice of intrapartum electronic fetal heart rate MOnitoring with cardiotocography for safer childbirth (the IMMO programme): Protocol for a qualitative study. BMJ Open, 9. e030271-. ISSN 2044-6055

Kaya, GK and Ward, J and Clarkson, J (2019) A Review of Risk Matrices Used in Acute Hospitals in England. Risk Analysis, 39. pp. 1060-1070. ISSN 0272-4332

Simsekler, MCE and Kaya, GK and Ward, JR and Clarkson, PJ (2019) Evaluating inputs of failure modes and effects analysis in identifying patient safety risks. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 32. pp. 191-207. ISSN 0952-6862

Early, F and Wilson, PM and Deaton, C and Wellwood, I and Haque, HW and Fox, SE and Yousaf, A and Meysner, OD and Ward, JR and Singh, SJ and Fuld, JP (2019) Pulmonary rehabilitation referral and uptake from primary care for people living with COPD: a mixed-methods study. ERJ Open Res, 6. ISSN 2312-0541

Early, F and Wilson, P and Deaton, C and Wellwood, I and Dickerson, T and Ward, J and Jongepier, L and Barlow, R and Singh, SJ and Benson, J and Brimicombe, J and Kim, L and Haque, H and Fuld, J (2019) 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. BMJ Open, 9. e024806-.