Interview with Prof. Alison Leary

Today is United Nations World Health Day! We hope you have enjoyed our campaign and found the content engaging and interesting. If you missed our posts over the past few days, scroll back through our World Health Day page to catch up. And last but not least, please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions or comments - we'd love to hear from you!


To close our campaign we are excited to introduce Prof, Alison Leary, professor of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University and the clinical lead for the matchday medical service at Millwall FC.


After spending ten years in science Prof. Leary undertook an RN diploma at The Nightingale School at St Thomas Hospital (now Kings College London). She attained a Masters in Biomedical Science (Haematology) and worked in acute Haematology services, followed by a PhD in Clinical Medicine from the University of London (Royal Free & University College School of Medicine).


Prof. Leary writes regularly for the general, trade and academic press. In 2015 she was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and in 2016 a Fellow of the Queen Nursing Institute and a Winston Churchill Fellow for which she examined high reliability organisations looking at safety.


In recent years she has undertaken various projects around the modelling of complex systems in both the public and private sector and has a particular interest in the work of specialist practice and its value. She undertakes research & consultancy in this area-she also provides a service as an expert witness.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m a professor of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University and the clinical lead for the matchday medical service at Millwall FC.

What is your background? Can you tell a bit more about the professional journey to where you are now?

I started my career in engineering and worked in science and engineering for about ten years before taking the RN Diploma in London. I’ve had a variety of jobs and professions which have all been interesting and linked together to bring me to where I am today.

Having multiple roles, what does a typical day (or perhaps week) currently look like?

I’m fortunate that my working week is varied and interesting. It ranges from research activity to meetings with policy makers. I also work at a football club and its nice to work clinically.

Can you tell us about your current professional and research interests?

My primary interest is the relationship between workforce and safety in healthcare but we also do other types of work such as workload/workforce modelling.

Are you involved in education or leadership? If so in what capacity? What does those roles bring to you?

I supervise post graduate students i.e. masters and PhD students. I really enjoy that part of my work its great to see people develop. I don’t hold any formal leadership position apart from having been around for a long time so occasionally people listen to what I have to say. Formal roles such as management have never appealed to me.

Could you talk about healthcare modelling and why it is such an interesting field? Modelling is really just a representation of the real world. We can use i.e. computational maths to test ideas or explain phenomenon. I guess one for of modelling has really come to the fore right now in the form of epidemiology.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Getting a standing ovation from Millwall supporters at the Den!

Any tips for students and junior trainee who want to follow in your footsteps?

I never really set a path for myself – I’ve been lucky I have just taken up opportunities. I think I would say that occasionally you have to take a risk and often its been worth taking.

One of the goals of ‘International Year of Nurse and Midwife’ is to increase appreciation of the role of nurses and midwifes in healthcare – what is the best way to support nurses and midwifes, that each one of us can implement?

Be an ally. Speak up for colleagues and each other.

Any closing remarks?

Good luck! Healthcare is an amazing field with a lot of opportunity.

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