Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Julian Hughes

Honorary Professor of Philosophy of Ageing and Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry



I am a consultant in the psychiatry of old age for the nursing and residential care team in the Psychiatry of Old Age Service of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust. This team focuses on improving mental health care for people living in care homes. I also provide consultant input to the unit for people with advanced dementia and behaviour which is challenging, as well as to our Behaviour Support Service, which covers in-patient units and nursing and residential care homes. I am approved under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act (1983). I am involved in teaching medical students and the training of junior doctors. I am a clinical supervisor to a trainee in Psychiatry, having previously provided educational supervision to Foundation Year 2 doctors and having been educational supervisor to Foundation Year 1 doctors. My clinical work occupies three days of the week. My other two days are spent at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre, Newcastle University, where I am involved in teaching, research and writing.

Academic Interests 

My areas of academic interest are: (a) the notion of personhood, especially related to dementia, and the ethical implications that flow from a particular understanding of personhood; (b) palliative care in dementia and the consequent ethical issues that arise for people with dementia and their carers; (c) the underpinning conceptual and ethical bases of legal concepts relevant to clinical practice in old age medicine and psychiatry; and (d) the philosophy of psychiatry generally, but with particular reference to ageing and dementia. My strategy has two main prongs: to build up our understanding of the conceptual underpinning of clinical practice; and to investigate the nature of ethical dilemmas inherent to clinical practice in relation to ageing.

Positions of Responsibility

Member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (appointed January 2013).

Member of the committee of the Philosophy Special Interest Group, Royal College of Psychiatrists since 1999 to the present (Chair: 2003-2008).

Member of the Special Committee For Professional Practice and Ethics (appointed January 2011 to 2014); previously member of Ethics Sub-Committee of Special Committee on Professional Governance, Royal College of Psychiatrists (June 2006 to December 2010).

Postgraduate Tutor (Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust) for Higher Degrees since July 2010.

External Examiner for University of Warwick: Philosophy & Ethics of Mental Health since 2011.

External Examiner for University of Central Lancashire: PG Cert/PG Dip/MA Philosophy and Mental Health since 2011.




1. Co-applicant: 'Decision making about implantation of cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and deactivation during end of life care'. CI: Professor Richard Thomson. NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research Programme. £217,912.00. October 2012 – September 2014.

2. Co-applicant: 'Supporting Excellence in End of life care in Dementia via an integrated care pathway (SEED programme)'.  CI: Professor Louise Robinson. NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research     £1,917,545.00.  Sept 2013 – Aug 2018.

3. Co-applicant: 'An ethical analysis of end of life care in a hospital setting'. CI: Dr Paul Paes.       Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust - Teaching and Research Fellowship (PhD). £168,816.00    2013-2016.




BMS3017 – Clinical Ageing & Health: Lecture on ‘Ethical Issues’

MMB8004 – Medical & Molecular Biosciences of Clinical Ageing, Two Lectures with Dr. Stephen Louw on ‘Ethical Issues’.

MRCPsych Course (1st Year): ‘Ethics and Philosophy’.

MRCPsych Course (2nd Year: Old Age Psychiatry): ‘Ethics, Law and Philosophy’.

Teaching to F1 doctors, North Tyneside General Hospital, on Old Age Psychiatry (April, 2007); 2012-2013 (on acute confusion).

Professionalism Teaching, Northumbria Health Care NHS Foundation Trust, teaching to Foundation Year 2 doctors on consent, capacity and ethics: three one-day sessions per year (2005-2014).

Core Medical Training (CMT) Lunchtime Meetings, North Tyneside General Hospital (2009-2014): Various from – ‘Progressive memory loss’; ‘Dementia’; ‘Anxiety/Panic disorder’; ‘Suicidal ideation’; ‘Mental Capacity Act’; ‘Mental Health Act’.