Brief History of HSRU
In April 1985, the Chief Scientist Office of the then Scottish Office Department of Health invited Scottish Universities to submit bids for a new Health Services Research Unit "whose objective is to seek improvements in the organisation and management of clinical services".
The successful bid from the University of Aberdeen Medical School was prepared by Professors James Petrie and Elizabeth Russell, and submitted in late 1985. Negotiations were concluded in early 1986, and the first Director, Ian Russell, took up the post at the beginning of 1987. The Unit formally opened at the beginning of 1988, with two full-time Research Fellows and two Secretaries. The Unit has expanded many times over since the early days. However, the formal remit with which the Unit opened has remained largely unchanged:
to study or evaluate clinical activities with a view to improving effectiveness and efficiency;
to work for the implementation of proven changes in clinical activities;
to encourage and support similar work throughout Scotland;
to train NHS staff in Scotland, and others, in the principles and practice of health services research in general and health care evaluation in particular.
In the first phase of the Unit's development, most of the projects which were developed and implemented fell under two main research themes - the assessment of medical technology, and the balance of care between hospital and community. Because of the rapidity with which the Unit expanded following its formal opening, it will not be possible to detail the early work. Suffice it to say that within two or three years, a coherent and comprehensive portfolio of health services research, comprising around 30 individual research projects, had been established and around 35 staff from multiple disciplines were in place. These projects were funded from a wide range of grant-giving bodies, and all represented close collaboration with colleagues from relevant clinical departments. This latter is a principle which continues to underpin the Unit's approach to health services research.
Ian Russell left the Unit at the end of 1993, and Adrian Grant took up the post in April 1994. The programme of work from 1994 represented a natural development of the work that preceded it. Senior staff were appointed as Programme Directors for four programmes of research. Restructuring since then has consolidated the Unit's work into two larger programmes i.e. Health Care Assessment and Delivery of Care. The two programmes of research interlink and we have also sought to undertake work which advances the methodology of health services research. Research initiated takes account of stated NHS R&D priorities, takes a national or international perspective and is, in most cases, multilocation.
Marion Campbell succeeded Adrian Grant as Director of HSRU in January 2007; previously she was the HCA Programme Director and Deputy Director for the Unit.