Improving Health Services

Improving Health Services

Background, Method and Applications

Walter Holland

This insightful book describes how Health Services Research (HSR) can be developed and used to evaluate, advance and improve all aspects of health services. It demonstrates the need for good HSR to avoid the continuation or development of ineffective or cost-inefficient services.

Chapter 4: Personal reflections

Walter Holland

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


I entered St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School from school in 1947 with four A-Levels in Botany, Zoology, Chemistry and Physics, rather more than the equivalent of a first MB. The Secretary of the Medical School, Dr A.L. Crockford (1897–1992) considered that it was unnecessary for me to repeat the course for the first MB and arranged for me to work with Dr Tom Day, a Reader in Pathology, as his laboratory assistant. Day, a charismatic individual, was an outstanding pathologist and was doing research on connective tissue. I was involved in preparing the rat preparations for the examination of collagen and the ‘ground matter’ binding it to the skin. One year with Tom Day introduced me to the attractions and challenges of medical research. At the end of the first year, when I entered the second MB course with my contemporaries, my aim was to become involved in medical research. I did reasonably well in the examination and was selected to do a BSc. I chose to do this in Physiology, with Professor Henry Barcroft (1904–1998), Dr Maureen Young and Dr Charles Vass among others. There were four of us on this course that introduced us to many research methods. We were involved in various research initiatives, including the measurement of oxygen and blood CO2 for the cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. This exposure to research philosophy and methods contributed to my involvement in and enthusiasm for medical research, especially on physiological systems.

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