Dr Sean Phillips

Dr Sean Phillips
Dr Sean Phillips is Head of Health and Social Care at Policy Exchange. He was previously a Research Fellow in the Unit, co-authoring reports on COVID-19 vaccination, measures to tackle the ‘waiting list’ in elective care, reforms to general practice, clinical research and the future for specialised services. During this period, the Unit’s work was awarded ‘Health, science and medicine’ think-tank of the year by Prospect Magazine (2022).   Prior to joining Policy Exchange, Sean completed a doctorate in History at the University of Oxford, which explored the history of regionalism in the Indo-Pacific. He previously lived in Berlin, where he worked as a consultant on matters relating to digital health and emergent technologies in healthcare, advising consumer health, insurance, and start-up clients.   He holds a DPhil in History and an MSt in Global and Imperial History from the University of Oxford and a BA in History from the University of Exeter.

Related Publications


Download Publication Online Reader A range of factors have been suggested as catalysing the decline in the mental health of children and young people in recent years.  Perhaps the most significant hypothesis is the link between smartphone ownership, social media use and a greater prevalence of mental and behavioural disorders amongst children and young people. A major Policy Exchange study – backed by leading psychologist and bestselling author, Professor Jonathan […]

Not Fit for Purpose

  Download Publication   Online Reader A new report calls for the Government to overhaul assessments of fitness to work, including the ‘fit note’ and incapacity and disability assessment as part of a package of measures to curb long-term sickness absence and an unsustainable trajectory for welfare spending. Based upon an analysis of the latest data on the use of the ‘fit note’ published by NHS England, Policy Exchange found: […]

None Of Our Business?

  Download Publication   Online Reader Should places of work and study play a greater role in supporting the health of their employees?  This new report from Policy Exchange – backed by two former Work and Pensions Secretaries – sets out fifteen measures to boost the role of workplaces in supporting the nation’s health to reduce the record number of people on long-term sick leave, save the NHS money and to […]

The problem with ‘allyship’ schemes at NHS hospitals

Download Publication Online Reader A new research note published by Policy Exchange exposes serious issues with ‘allyship schemes’ which have become commonplace across the NHS – with materials promoting gender ideology on display in multiple prominent locations at the Royal Free Hospital – a major NHS teaching hospital in London. It reveals that: Noticeboards at the Royal Free, authored by members of the ‘LGBTQ+ & Friends Network’, make the absurd claim that staff should not […]

Medical Evolution

Download Publication Online Reader The interface between primary and secondary care is the space of a growing volume and variety of activities for the NHS, ranging from referrals to specialist care, diagnostic testing and medicines management. An effective and efficient interface has never been more important, but new analysis from Policy Exchange finds the equivalent of 15 million GP appointments per year are spent dealing with issues in care management […]

Double Vision

  Download Publication   Online Reader The case for training more doctors is moral and economic. There are global shortages of medical staff, and a consensus it would be unsustainable and unethical to continue to rely on the recruitment doctors from developing countries. At the same time, investing in our domestic pipeline makes sense: thousands of talented students are rejected from medical schools each year and last year, more people […]

A Fresh Shot

  Download Publication   Online Reader The UK has a strong pedigree in vaccines – from the first smallpox vaccine developed by Edward Jenner to the team at Oxford University behind one of the first COVID-19 vaccines.  Yet uptake of Covid and flu jabs has declined in the past twelve months, risking a knock-on effect for the healthcare system as a whole, meaning busier A&E departments and longer backlogs for routine […]

Health and Social Care: What do we want from the next Prime Minister?

Download Publication Online Reader When the new Prime Minister takes office on 5 September, they will be immediately faced with a difficult autumn and winter for the health and care sector. NHS waits are now at historic levels across both emergency and elective care, and there has been a rapid decline in public satisfaction with general practice. In social care, people are struggling to be assessed for their needs, and […]

Devolve to evolve?

Download Publication Specialised services typically care for small numbers of patients with rare or complex conditions. They are commonly overlooked in debates around the future of the NHS. This is despite costs growing by over 50% in eight years, and now exceeding £20bn per year. This one part of the NHS now receives more taxpayer funding than providing police services and fighting crime. The spotlight is returning, with proposals from […]

At Your Service

Download Publication General practice has always been the foundation and gateway to the NHS. However the problems are mounting up: a stretched and increasingly burnt-out workforce, no systematic reporting or analysis of activity and demand, fragmentation with secondary care, and confusing and dated contracting and reimbursement mechanisms. The status quo is increasingly unacceptable to both patients and GPs. There is now a consensus that changes are needed, including to the […]

A Wait on your Mind?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Download Publication The waiting list for elective treatment in the NHS in England has reached an unprecedented level. It is likely to become the defining NHS issue as we approach the next general election, and brings a very real human cost as millions endure a long and uncertain wait. So what can […]

Closing the COVID 19 data gap

Download Publication Online Reader We are now into the eighth week of the national vaccine rollout. The programme has in many ways already been hugely successful with 6.5 million people, more than one in ten adults in the UK, receiving their first dose, at a rate that is unmatched in Europe. The Government, NHS England and the devolved administrations have continued to ramp up deployment and are on course to […]

Related Blogs

The Queen’s Speech and Health & Social Care Reform: What was not announced may be more significant than what was announced

The passage of the centrepiece Health and Care Act during the previous session of this Parliament meant that this year’s Queen Speech had a smaller offering for health and social care. A number of priority commitments set out in March as part of the Annual Mandate (which sets out the Government’s priorities for the NHS) were repeated. The priorities are well understood: bring down the elective waiting list; deliver additional diagnostic capacity, […]

Public satisfaction with GP services is at a 25 year low. So what can be done to reverse the decline?

The publication of the most recent British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey last week reveals a significant decrease in public satisfaction with NHS services – from dentistry to accident and emergency, reflected across demographic groups. Perhaps the most striking result however was a significant decline in satisfaction with general practice. GP services were the highest-rated part of the health service each year until 2018, but now more people are dissatisfied than satisfied and […]

What does the Levelling Up White Paper mean for Health and Social Care policy?

There has been much anticipation about ‘Levelling Up’ within the health care sector. It was viewed as a vehicle to land existing arguments about health inequalities that have escaped concerted focus over the past decade. As Policy Exchange warned before, meeting those elevated expectations was going to be tough. What has been the result? As widely trailed, improvements to health outcomes is listed among twelve core ‘missions’. The commitment is that Healthy […]

A single bus ride may have saved more than a million lives: what the Government can now do to further boost clinical research

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the difference clinical research can make. The ground-breaking RECOVERY trial was conceived of as two academics – Prof Martin Landray and Sir Jeremy Farrar – rode the Number 18 bus between Euston and Sudbury in early March 2020. Two years later, RECOVERY has recruited 45,000 participants, and led to the identification of two viable now commonly used therapeutics for hospitalised COVID patients. The trial additionally […]

Less emotion, more evidence – that is what’s needed to tackle the challenges in general practice

At an ‘in conversation’ event hosted by Policy Exchange at this year’s Conservative Party Conference, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care insisted that investment was required to tackle the challenges facing the NHS, but it would only come with reform. Uncontroversial, surely? Yet this week’s announcement of a new package of funding proved anything but, with the £250m ‘Winter Access Fund’ – the first test of Javid’s model – landing […]

Don’t waste a crisis: The UK can use the G7 summit to reset global health governance for good

The global response to the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a series of reflections about the international architecture of global health, both domestically and internationally. Through its Presidency of the G7 summit – which takes place in Cornwall next weekend – the United Kingdom has both an opportune moment and ample scope to take a leading role in reshaping global health governance for good. Britain is already a global leader in […]

Any reset of waiting times must put more information in the hands of patients

One in ten people in England are now waiting for a routine procedure in the NHS (often described as elective or planned care). For many of these people, the wait will number several months or years. And the total number of people waiting will grow substantially over the next 12 months, as many of the estimated seven million people who did not seek treatment during the pandemic are referred by […]

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