Dr Gemma Hughes

Associate Professor, Healthcare Management

picture of Gemma Hughes

School/Department: Business, School of; Work, Employment, Management and Organisations, Department of



I joined the University of Leicester School of Business in 2023.  I previously held research posts at the University of Oxford, where I was also a Research Fellow at Reuben College, and the University of Oslo.  My current role involves teaching and research on Healthcare Innovation, Policy and Management

I have a professional background in the public sector in the UK, having started my career working in the areas of homelessness and mental health in the voluntary sector before pursuing a career in the NHS where I held senior service improvement and commissioning roles. 

My doctoral research, completed in 2019, was inspired by my NHS work on integration and was an ethnographic case study of integrated health and social care for people at high risk of hospital admission. Since then, I have conducted research into the adoption of technology and the practice of decision-making in health and care settings.  I am a social scientist who uses qualitative methods and have a strong commitment to public engagement in research. 


I am a social scientist concerned with the intersections between organisational practices, health and social care policy and people's experiences.  I have a professional background in the UK public sector which informs my interest in tackling 'real world' problems of how best to organise care.  I seek to bring social theory to bear on complex health and social care questions and have conducted research on integrated care, adoption of technologies in health and social care settings and on decision-making. 

Current studies on which I am co-investigator are: 

Witnessing harm, holding to account: Patient, family and colleague experiences following harm, when directly involved in health and care regulator Fitness to Practice proceedings in connection with a registered professional's behaviour. NIHR Health Services Research and Delivery 2021-2024. 

Remote by Default 2 - the New Normal? Care navigation. NIHR Health Services Research and Delivery 2022-2023. 

Previous studies include: 

Virtual Presence, a cultural analysis of loneliness and technology led by Professor Marit Haldar, funded by the Research Council of Norway 2020-2023 

Video consulting during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic led by Professor Sara Shaw, funded by the Health Foundation 2020-2021

Optimising Shared-Decision Making for High-Risk Major Surgery (OSIRIS) led by Professor Sara Shaw, funded by NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research 2019-2025. 

Studies in Co-creating Assisted Living Technologies led by Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, funded by the Wellcome Trust 2015-2020. 



Shaw, S.E., Hughes, G., Pearse, R., Avagliano, E., Day, J.R. Edsell, M.E., Edwards, J.A., Everest, L. Stephens, T.J. (2023) Opportunities for shared decision-making about major surgery with high-risk patients: a multi-method qualitative study, British Journal of Anaesthesia, ISSN 0007-0912

Hughes G, Rybczynska-Bunt S, Shasha'h S et al. Protocol: How can people with social care needs be supported through processes of digital care navigation to access remote primary care? A multi-site case study in UK general practice of remote care as the ‘new normal’. [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. NIHR Open Res 2023, 3:17

Husain, L., Greenhalgh, T., Hughes, G., Finlay, T., Wherton, J. (2022) ‘Desperately Seeking the Intersectionality in Digital Health Disparities Research: Towards a Richer Theorisation of Multiple Disadvantage’, Journal of Medical Internet Research 24 (12): e42358

Wherton J., Greenhalgh T., Hughes G., Shaw S. (2022) The Role of Information Infrastructures in Scaling up Video Consultations During COVID-19: Mixed Methods Case Study Into Opportunity, Disruption, and Exposure, Journal of Medical Internet Research 24(11):e42431

Hughes, G., Moore, L., Maniatopoulos, G., Wherton,  J., Wood, G.W., Greenhalgh  T., Shaw S. (2022) Theorising the shift to video consulting during the COVID-19 pandemic: analysis of a mixed methods study using practice theory Social Science and Medicine 311, 115368

Rosen, R., Wieringa, S., Greenhalgh, T., Leone, C., Rybczynska-Bunt, S., Byng, R., Hughes, G., Moore, L., Shaw, S.; Wherton, J. (2022) Clinical risk in remote consultations: findings from in-pandemic qualitative case studies, British Journal of General Practice Open, 2022-04-29. Web.

Greenhalgh, T., Ladds, E., Wieringa, S., Hughes, G., Moore, L., Papoutsi, C., Rosen, R., Wherton, J., Rushforth, A., Rybczynska-Bunt, S.,Shaw, S. (2022) Why do GPs rarely do video consultations? Qualitative study in UK general practice British Journal of General Practice. ; 72 (718): e351-e360.

Hughes, G., Shaw, S., & Greenhalgh, T. (2022) Why doesn’t integrated care work? Using Strong Structuration Theory to explain the limitations of an English case Sociology of Health & Illness. 4400:1-17.

Shaw, S E, Hughes, G., Wherton, J., Moore, L., Rosen, R., Papoutsi, C., Rushforth, A., Morris, J., Wood, G.W., Faulkner, S., Greenhalgh, T. (2021): Achieving Spread, Scale Up and Sustainability of Video Consulting Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic? Findings From a Comparative Case Study of Policy Implementation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Frontiers in Digital Health Vol.3, p.754319-75431954319.

Lynch, J., Hughes, G., Papoutsi, C., Wherton, J. and A'Court, C. (2021). "“It's no good but at least I've always got it round my neck”: A postphenomenological analysis of reassurance in assistive technology use by older people."  Social Science & Medicine 292: 114553.

Johannessen L.E.F., Engebretsen E., Greenhalgh T., Hughes, G., Köhler-Olsen, J., Børve Rasmussen, E., Haldar, M. (2021) Protocol for ‘virtual presence’: a qualitative study of the cultural dialectic between loneliness and technology, BMJ Open 11:e047157.

Greenhalgh, T., Rosen, R., Shaw, S.E., Byng, R., Faulkner, S. Finlay, T. Grundy, E., Husain, L., Hughes, G., Leone, C., Moore, L., Papoutsi, C., Catherine Pope, C., Rybczynska-Bunt, S., Rushforth, A., Wherton, J., Wieringa, S., Wood, G.W. (2021) Planning and Evaluating Remote Consultation Services: A New Conceptual Framework Incorporating Complexity and Practical Ethics. Frontiers in Digital Health 3(103).

Hughes, G., Shaw S.E., Greenhalgh T. (2020) Rethinking integrated care: a hermeneutic review of integrated care strategies and concepts. The Milbank Quarterly, 98: 446-492.

Shaw, S.E., Hughes, G., Stephens, T., Pearse, R., Prowle, J., Ashcroft, R., Avagliano, E., Day, J., Edsell, M., Edwards, J., Everest, L., OSIRIS Programme Group (2020) Understanding decision-making about major surgery: a qualitative study of shared decision making by high risk patients and their clinical teams. BMJ Open, 10(5), pp. e033703.

Shaw, S.E., Hughes, G., Hinder, S., Carolan, S. and Greenhalgh, T. (2020) Care organising technologies and the post-phenomenology of care: an ethnographic case study. Social Science & Medicine, 255.

Kumpunen, S., Edwards, N., Georghiou, T., and Hughes, G. (2020). Why do evaluations of integrated care not produce the results we expect? International Journal of Care Coordination, 23(1).

Hughes, G. (2019) ‘Experiences of integrated care: reflections on tensions of size, scale, and perspective between ethnography and evaluation’ Anthropology & Medicine, 26(1), pp. 33-47.

Greenhalgh T., Wherton J., Papoutsi C., Lynch J., Hughes G., A'Court C., Hinder S., Procter R., Shaw S.E. (2018)  ‘Analysing the role of complexity in explaining the fortunes of technology programmes: Empirical application of the NASSS framework’, BMC Medicine 16:66

Hughes, G. (2018) ‘Ethnography and Ethics: Securing Permission for Doctoral Research in and From the National Health Service’, SAGE Research Methods Cases

Greenhalgh, T., Wherton, J., Papoutsi, C., Lynch, J., Hughes, G., A'Court, C., Hinder, S., Fahy, N., Procter, R., Shaw, S.E. (2017) ‘Beyond Adoption: A New Framework for Theorizing and Evaluating Nonadoption, Abandonment, and Challenges to the Scale-Up, Spread, and Sustainability of Health and Care Technologies’, Journal of Medical Internet Research 2017;19(11):e367

Hughes, G. (2017) ‘New models of care: the policy discourse of integrated care’. People, Place and Policy, 11 (2), 72-89

Shaw, J., Shaw, S.E., Wherton, J., Hughes, G., and Greenhalgh, T. (2017). ‘Studying Scale-Up and Spread as Social Practice: Theoretical Introduction and Empirical Case Study’. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(7), e244.

Greenhalgh, T., Shaw, S.E., Wherton, J., Hughes, G., Lynch, J., A'Court, C., Hinder, S., Fahy, N., Byrne, E., Finlayson, A., Sorell, T., Procter, R. and Stones, R. (2016) 'SCALS: a fourth-generation study of assisted living technologies in their organisational, social, political and policy context', BMJ Open, 6(2).

Peer reviewed book chapters

Shaw, S.E., Hughes, G. and Greenhalgh, T. (2019) Standardisation and its consequences in health care: a case study of PRINCE2 project management training, in Hodgson, D., Hall, P., Bailey, S., Fred, M,.(eds) Routledge Handbook of Projectification of the Public Sector, Routledge

Hughes, G. (2018) Symbolic, Collective and Intimate Spaces: An ethnographic approach to the places of integrated care, in Garnett, E., Reynolds, J. & Milton, S. (eds.) Ethnographies and Health: Reflections on empirical and methodological entanglements: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 123-140.


I am committed to spanning boundaries between policy, organisational and clinical perspectives to contribute to understanding and addressing 'real world' problems of how to best organise care and am interested in hearing from potential PhD students with similar interests. 

I am currently co-supervising two doctoral students at the University of Oxford: 

Dr Francis Ayomoh: Improving Task-shifting and Task-sharing for the provision of essential healthcare services in Nigeria (2021- )
Commonwealth Scholarship Studentship 

Laiba Husain: Scaling up the use of video consultations for COVID-19 (2021-) 
University of Cambridge THIS Institute Fellowship

I co-supervised Dr Jackie Walumbe's NIHR funded DPhil: Self-management of chronic pain, a critical interpretive inquiry (2018-2022). 


I teach on the MSc in Healthcare Management and am module lead for the Dissertation module (MN7419). 


Co-editor of Frontiers in Digital Health Research Topic Virtual Presence: Loneliness, technology and the production of human (dis)connectedness

Member of the Advisory Board for DIGIT: The Norwegian Research School on Digitalization, Culture and Society


Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2022. 

Winner of the NIHR School of Primary Care Research Impactful Contribution in Patient and Public Involvement Prize, 2019. 


Selected conference presentations: 

Technological Change as Social Practice, February 2023 at The Research Centre for Digitalisation of Public Services and Citizenship (CEDIC) at Oslo Metropolitan University 

Home as Hub: Transforming domestic time, space and work through digital networks at STAY HOME: new perspectives on the home, University of Copenhagen, November 2022

The paradoxes of implementation: a need to reframe the purpose of implementation science? 13th Organisational Behaviour in Health Care Conference, Birmingham, September 2022

Virtual Presence: the dialectics of loneliness and technology at Politics of Technoscientific Futures, European Association of Studies of Science and Technology, Madrid, July 2022. 

The delights and dangers of doing ethnography in the NHS Keynote at Early-Career Ethnographers of the NHS, Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, May 2022. 

Overbaked: researching and experiencing video consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic at MedSoc, British Sociological Association, September 2021

Blurring the Background - boundaries of the public and private in health and care at home at Tomorrow's Home 2050, University College London, Institute of Healthcare Engineering, November 2021. 

Video consulting: spread and scale up during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic at Health Services Research UK, June 2021. 

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