I read psychology at Magdalene College, Cambridge University and then medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London University. I trained in paediatrics in Edinburgh and London before moving to Newcastle in 1980 to train in community paediatrics. I was awarded a research Doctorate of Medicine in 1992.
I was appointed Senior Lecturer in Community Child Health to Newcastle University in 1997, with subsequent promotions to Readership, Personal Chair and then Donald Court Chair of Community Child Health in 2007.
My current research is directed to disabled children - understanding their lives, describing their needs and evaluating clinical interventions and services.
I lead a 5 year NIHR Programme for Applied Research on the Transition of young people with complex health needs from child to adult services.
I have also led for 10 years a study (SPARCLE) of the the participation and quality of life of children with cerebral palsy acorss Europe funded by the European Commission and Wellcome Trust.
Professor of Community Child Health and Strategic Research Advisor, Newcastle University
Honorary Consultant Paediatrician, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Member of NIHR Health Technology Assessment TIDE Panel on Maternal and Child Health 2013-
Member of Neuroscience Clinical Study Group of NIHR Medicines for Children Research Network 2013-
Chair of Steering Committee of Daslne Databse of children and young people with autism spectrum disorder 2006-
Editorial Board Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2000-
Member of the Executive Committee of Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe 2005-
Chair of the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit 2006-09
Chair of the North of England Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Survey 1995-2009
Member of the Executive Committee of the British Academy of Childhood Disability; and chair of its Strategic Research sub-committee 2008-2012
MA Cambridge University Psychology 1970
MB BS St Bartholomew's Hospital 1976
MD (Distinction) Newcastle University 1992
GMC Number 2349211
In 1982, I undertook a randomised controlled trial of interventions to promote child home safety which strongly influenced health visitor practice and training. In the Lancet 1989, my report on providing individual practices with their immunisation coverage influenced the introduction of immunisation targets for general practice. My work in the 1980s and 1990s on the health surveillance of pre-school children influenced national thinking and the recommendations of successive editions of Health for all Children. My longitudinal study with Professor Jarvis of pre-school orthoptic screening influenced the recommendations of a Health Technology Assessment Report that a randomised controlled trial of amblyopia treatment was needed. In 2002, I reported on the epidemiology of severe reactions to food in children, following a study undertaken through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit.
Present research interests and activity
Epidemiology of cerebral palsy
As Chair of the North of England Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Survey, I established the survey on a secure methodological and administrative base. It is now one of the leading registers in the world – and the inclusion in the common data set of details of the impact of cerebral palsy on child and family lifestyle is unique. The survey links with other UK registers and a network of European registers co-ordinated by Dr Cans in Grenoble. The programme of research includes studies of prevalence, aetiology, risks for twins, life expectancy and socio-economic variations; and has led to over 40 publications.
Quality of life and participation of children with cerebral palsy.
I lead and co-ordinate a multi-centre European study of the influence of environmental factors on the participation and quality of life of 8-12-year-old children with cerebral palsy in 7 EU countries (SPARCLE). This four year programme received £900,000 from the European Commission Research Framework 5. There are 18 publications to date, including Lancet 2007:369:2171-2178 and BMJ 2009;338:b1458 doi:10.1136/bmj.b1458 With a grant from the Wellcome Trust, the same children have now been visited again aged 13-17 years; these data are being analysed.
I was co-investigator in receipt of a grant from the ESRC of £45,000 for a study which compared the content of qualitative interviews with children with cerebral palsy about their quality of life with the scores and content of a standard instrument. A further ESRC grant is using qualitative methodology to understand better how adolescents with cerebral palsy experience thei changing body and in particular their experience of pain.
A study has just completed on the development of an instrument to assess the participation of adolescents with cerebral palsy.
Development of a database of children with autistic spectrum disorder
I started this database and am now the chair of the steering committee. The purposes of the database are to empower parents, inform service planning, undertake epidemiological studies and be a sampling frame for research studies. From the outset a parents’ group has influenced all aspects of its development. The voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Health Authorities fund the database.
Transition of young people with complex health needs
I and 14 co-applicants have been awarded 5 year NIHR Programme Grant to study the Transition of young people with complex health needs from child to adult services . It started in May 2012.
Chief Investigator NIHR 2012-2017 £2 million
Chief Investigator NIHR 2009-2011 £97,000
Chief Investigator Wellcome Trust 2009-11 £306,000
Co-Applicant ESRC 2011-13 £250,000
Chief Investigator European Union 2002-2006 £950,000
Co-Applicant MRC 2000-04 £300,000
Co-Applicant ESRC 2004-05 £48,000