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UKCEN 19th Annual Conference: Ethical Expertise in the NHS


Ethical Expertise in the NHS

19th UKCEN Conference Friday 18th June 2021, Virtual Conference on Zoom, RCP CPD 129331

Speakers to include:

Dave Archard, Queens University, Belfast

Alf Collins, NHS England

Janet Holt, University of Leeds

Josh Hordern, University of Oxford

Laura Machin, University of Lancaster

Anne Slowther, Warwick Medical School

Daniel Sokol, 12 King’s Bench Walk

Jamie Watson and Laura Guidry-Grimes, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences


Meeting fee £40, UK CEN members free (£10 reclaimable), students free (£10 reclaimable), IME members £20


Meeting Abstract

The objective of the meeting is to further understanding of the idea of ethical expertise as it may apply in the UK National Health Service. All healthcare professionals are expected to make the right choices and thereby do the right thing for their patients; in other words, they are expected to behave ethically. With this in mind, they may receive training in ethics and also have their conduct regulated by professional bodies who set out to maintain ethical standards. Not infrequently, however, it is unclear what doing the right thing entails. So could “ethical experts” help in these types of case? There are contrasting accounts of ethical expertise, and even if we accept the idea, it is not universally accessible in the NHS. So what should the NHS’ approach be to ethical expertise? Is existing ethical training for healthcare professionals sufficient to meet patient needs or should ethical expertise be made available in all parts of the NHS?

Provisional Programme

9.00 – 9.10

Introduction and Welcome, Andrew Stanners, Leeds

9.10 – 11.10

PLENARY 1: Ethical Expertise in Healthcare

Chair: tbc

1. Dave Archard, Emeritus Professor, Queens University, Belfast

2. Alf Collins, Clinical Director, Personalised Care Group, NHS England

11.10 – 11.30


11.30 – 13.00

Parallel Session A

Chair: tbc

Parallel Session B

Chair: tbc

Ethical Expertise Inside the Clinical Ethics Committee

Education and Ethical Expertise

1. Harleen Johal. Great Western Hospital CEAG member and PhD candidate, University of Bristol

1. Laura Machin, Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Lancaster

2. Michael Spinks, Lay member, Great Ormond St Clinical Ethics Committee

2. Janet Holt, Senior Lecturer, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds

13.00 – 13.50


13.20 – 13.45

AGM (UKCEN Members only)

13.50 – 15.30

PLENARY 2: Ethical Expertise and Professionalism

Chair: tbc

1. Laura Guidry-Grimes and Jamie Watson, Assistant Professors of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

2. Joshua Hordern, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, University of Oxford

15.30 – 16.00

Break and poster viewing

16.00 – 17.00

DEBATE: “This House Believes that there is no such thing as Ethical Expertise” (NB, the positions argued by the speakers may not necessarily reflect their actual positions.)

Chair: tbc

For: Dr Daniel Sokol, Barrister, 12 King’s Bench Walk, Temple

Against: Anne Slowther, Professor, Social Science and Systems in Health, Warwick Medical School

17.00 – 17.10

Poster Award and Closing Remarks



A UKCEN Pre conference workshop will also take place on Thursday 17th June 2021, 13.30-17.00 on Zoom, RCP CPD code 1293 which is free to attend for members of Clinical Ethics Committees. Full details can be found at https://ime.datawareonline.co.uk/Event-Booking/EventId/1059


Speaker Biographies for UK Clinical Ethics Network Summer Meeting on Ethical expertise in the NHS.

Dave Archard is Professor and Visiting Scholar, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast. From 2005 to 2016, he was a member of the board of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. He has been the chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics since 2017. Other roles Archard has undertaken over his career include editorial or management roles at the journals Res Publica, The Philosophical Quarterly, the Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Contemporary Political Theory, and at the scholarly organisations the British Philosophical Association, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the Society for Applied Philosophy.

Alf Collins is NHS England’s Clinical Director, Personalised Care Group. He is a doctor, commissioner, researcher and national policy advisor in person-centred care. He has researched and published widely on self-management support, shared decision making, care planning, co-production, patient activation and patient engagement. He has worked with others to develop a number of measures of person-centred care, including the ‘clinician support for patient activation measure’. He has a visiting professorship in person-centred care from Coventry University and Honorary Fellowships at the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Laura Guidry-Grimes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). She received her doctorate in philosophy at Georgetown University. She has worked for the past two years as a clinical ethicist in the MedStar health system in Washington, D.C. Along with her work on the clinical ethics consultation services at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Dr. Guidry-Grimes is interested in disability advocacy, ethics of psychiatry, and determining how best to understand vulnerability in health care.

Janet Holt is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Healthcare at the University of Leeds. Her research interests and publications are within the disciplines of Healthcare Ethics and Law and Nursing Philosophy. She is a reviewer for a number of healthcare journals, a member of the Editorial Board for the journal Nursing Philosophy, a consultant editor for the journal Nursing Ethics. She is regularly invited to speak at conferences on ethical aspects of healthcare and has facilitated many workshops and study days on ethics and law for healthcare professionals and in secondary schools in Leeds. She is also interested in research ethics, and is an expert member and Chair of Bradford Leeds Health Research Authority Research Ethics Committee.

Josh Hordern is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics in the Faculty of Theology and Religion and a Governing Body Fellow of Harris Manchester College. His research interests are in two main areas, healthcare and political theology. First, he works in partnership with healthcare researchers, clinicians and institutions, exploring questions concerning the ethos of healthcare, with a particular foci on precision medicine, medical professionalism and the role of compassion in healthcare organisations. Second, he pursues collaborative research in Islamic and Christian political thought, focussing especially on themes of affections, loyalty and conscience. For more detail, please see the two co-edited journal issues of The Muslim World and Studies in Christian Ethics (2016) and his first monograph Political Affections (2013).

Harleen Johal is a junior doctor and PhD student at the Centre for Ethics in Medicine at the University of Bristol. Her research, on conflict resolution in the adult intensive care unit, is being conducted as part of the Wellcome Trust funded cross-disciplinary project entitled ‘Balancing Best Interests in Healthcare Ethics and Law’ (BABEL). She is Co-Secretary of the Institute of Medical Ethics Postgraduate Committee, and she has served as a member of the Great Western Hospital Clinical Ethics Advisory Group since its formation in Spring 2020.  Over the last year, Harleen has also worked as a Junior Clinical Fellow in Intensive Care Medicine. Through her clinical and academic work, her interests have extended to addressing racial disparities and healthcare inequalities.

Laura Machin is Senior Lecturer at Lancaster Medical School. Her research interests broadly rest within the social and ethical aspects of health and medicine. She has long-standing interests in matters related to reproductive medicine, and the donation of body parts, blood and tissue for a variety of purposes. Her current research interests are within the field of clinical ethics, including the need for clinical ethics committees and clinical ethicists, clinical ethics education and training, improving organisational cultures, and the interplay between practitioner, relative, and patient and their decision-making in healthcare. Her emerging research focus is located within research ethics. Throughout her research activities, she adopts an applied approach, whereby she considers the policy and practice implications of the topic under study. Her research has tended to be interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on a wide range of literature from medical sociology and medical ethics, and focused upon accessing hidden populations and interviewing on sensitive subjects.

Anne Slowther is Professor in Clinical Ethics at Warwick Medical School. She has been involved in the development of clinical ethics committees in the UK since 2000 and is a member of the UKCEN Board of Trustees. She has an interest in the evaluation of clinical ethics support services, and alternative models of clinical ethics support.

Daniel Sokol is a Barrister at 12 King’s Bench Walk and a former university lecturer in medical ethics. He has been a keynote speaker in international conferences, an after-dinner speaker, written three books on ethics and law and over 200 articles, both in peer-reviewed academic journals and in newspapers such as the Times, the Guardian and the International Herald Tribune. He writes a regular column for the British Medical Journal on ethico-legal issues, for which he was awarded ‘Best Column’ by the Medical Journalists’ Association in 2015.

Michael Spinks is a lay member of the Great Ormond Street Ethics committee as a parent representative, joining in 2019. Michael’s son, Rory, became a patient of GOS in 2013 when he was diagnosed with Complete Athymic Digeorge syndrome.  Rory died in 2016, and over that time the family faced many decisions.  His role on the Clinical Ethics Committee is to bring the parent perspective to the complex cases and an understanding of the family’s point of view. Not a medic by background, Michael works in asset management.

Jamie Watson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He is a member of the clinical ethics consultation services at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and he serves as a Plain Language Writer for the Center for Health Literacy. Dr. Watson received his doctorate in philosophy at Florida State University in 2009 and has co-authored four textbooks on ethics and philosophy, as well as a single-authored book on responsible politics. His primary scholarship is on moral expertise and moral distress, and he has developed a recent interest in neuroethics.

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