Eileen Spencer

Lecturer in Public Health

Eileen joined the Centre for Public Health Research in November 2010. An experienced researcher and lecturer in Social Policy and Health and Social Care, she has previously held academic appointments at The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester Business School and The University of Liverpool.




Having begun her career as a nurse and a midwife, Eileen enrolled as a mature student at the University of Chester and graduated with a BA in Health and Community Studies in 1995. She then graduated with an MA in Social Policy and a PhD from the Department of Applied Social Science at the University of Manchester. She has teaching and research experience in social policy, health care and health policy, social care for vulnerable adults, comparative public policy and public sector management. She has also worked for local government in service planning and commissioning. At the Centre for Public Health Research she is a lecturer for the MSc in Public Health and the MSc in Research Methods, and is also involved in a range of research activities within the Centre.


In 2004 Eileen completed her PhD which explored the experiences of lone parents in employment, and their strategies for managing conflicts between work and family. This qualitative and longitudinal research took a grounded theory approach to explore work-family conflict as a lived experience. As a post-doctoral researcher, she has been involved in qualitative and quantitative research funded by the Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority, the European Commission and the ESRC. These projects include an evaluation of inter-professional learning for health and social care undergraduates, a survey of quality improvement strategies in health care systems of the European Union (www.marquis.be), and research into the absorptive capacity of public sector organisations. Within her recent role as a commissioning and planning officer for a Local Authority, Eileen has also conducted health needs assessments at local level and public consultation surveys. Eileen’s current research interests are in the international context of public health, ageing and public health, and lone parent families.

Published work

Harvey, G., Skelcher, C., Spencer, E., Jas, P., Walshe, K. (2010). Absorptive capacity in a non-market environment: A knowledge-based approach to analysing the performance of sector organisations. Public Management Review, 12 (1), 67-87.

Spencer, E., Walshe, K. (2009). National quality improvement policies and strategies in European healthcare systems. Quality & Safety in Healthcare, 18(1), 22-27.

Spencer, E., Walshe, K. (2008). Quality and safety in Europe: A growing challenge for policy makers. Harvard Health Policy Review, 9, 46-54.

Cooper, H., Spencer-Dawe, E. (2007). Engaging with complexity in educational research. Diabetic Medicine, 24 (Suppl. 1), A57, 17.

Cooper, H., Spencer-Dawe, E. (2006). Involving service users in inter-professional education: Narrowing the gap between theory and practice. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 20(6), 603-617.

Cooper, H., Spencer-Dawe, E., McLean, E. (2005). Beginning the process of teamwork: Design, implementation and evaluation of a combined multi and interprofessional intervention for first year undergraduate students. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 19(5), 492-508.

Spencer-Dawe, E. (2005). Lone mothers in employment: Seeking rational solutions to role strain. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 27, 251-264.

Policy Briefings and Reports

Wrexham County Borough Council. (2009). Joint commissioning strategy for older people’s services, 2009-2014.

Spencer, E., Jas, P., Harvey, G., Skelcher, C., Walshe, K. (2007). Social mechanisms for performance improvement from a low base: A comparative study of performance trajectories in public sector organisations. Paper for the European Group on Public Administration Conference, Madrid.

Spencer, E. (2006). Quality improvement in European healthcare. Update Magazine, Centre for Public Policy and Management, Manchester Business School, Autumn.

Spencer, E., Walshe, K. (2006). Healthcare in Europe: Quality improvement policies and strategies. Policy Briefing for the European Commission (www.marquis.be).

Spencer, E., Walshe, K. (2005). Health Care Quality Strategies in Europe : A survey of quality improvement policies and strategies in health care systems of member states of the European Union. Deliverable 6. The MARQuIS Project. European Commission.

Spencer, E., Walshe, K. (2005). Quality improvement strategies in healthcare systems of the European Union: A literature review. Deliverable 1. The MARQuIS Project European Commission.