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Dr Michael Lambert

Research Fellow

Michael Lambert

Health Innovation One



Office Hours:

Please contact me to make an appointment via MS Teams or email.


I am a historian of the welfare state in twentieth-century Britain and its Empire, using sociological approaches to understand social and health policy-making and implementation, along with the impacts of these upon people, organisations, and society. My research uses qualitative and quantitative approaches, with considerable experience in using archival, documentary and organisation records, combined with elite and popular oral interviews. I have a particular interest in place, and have primarily focused upon Liverpool, Merseyside and the North West of  England in my work.

I am a co-investigator on the National Institute for Health Research funded project ‘Mapping underdoctored areas: the impact of medical training pathways on NHS workforce distribution’. My work package contributes health policy, history and spatial analysis. My research also underpins my responsibility and commitment in leading Widening Participation within Lancaster Medical School student admissions.

Research Interests

My research explores the dynamics of power, inequality and the state in the development of welfare services across twentieth century Britain and it’s Empire. This extends to critically thinking about each of the ‘five giant evils’ of William Beveridge’s imagination: want, ignorance, disease, squalor and idleness.

Child welfare inequalities as seen through the organisation of state services has been a consistent focus of my research. My doctoral thesis used social case files of ‘problem families’ to understand the antecedents of modern child protection practices, linking decisions about individuals to national policies. I have used this approach in contributing as an expert witness to two major national inquiries: in relation to the selection of children from Scotland by the Fairbridge Society for child migration for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in 2019, and the policy framework surrounding the forcible adoption of children of unmarried mothers for the Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry in 2021.

Understanding complex subnational health systems and their logics over time has been the aim of several projects, as well as how the present horizons of current decision-makers are shaped by them. I submitted a report for the Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in 2022 about the myriad reasons why services were centralised and rationalised on their present Crown Street site as part of a strategy advocated relocation. I have contributed several written submissions to Parliamentary inquiries about the historical antecedents of present policy dilemmas. I am also a regular contributor in the ‘Medicine and Society section of the Morecambe Bay Medical Journal, exploring contemporary issues through a historical lens.

Career Details

In 2017 I completed my doctoral thesis on ‘problem families’ was at the Department of History in Lancaster University in 2017. Drawing on expertise in social policy and child welfare, I subsequently worked as a Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in Early Childhood Studies at Liverpool Hope University from 2016-17.

From 2017-19 I was a Research Associate in the Department of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool exploring the history of the NHS in the Liverpool City Region from 1948 to the present. This was on a Wellcome-funded award led by Professor Sally Sheard entitled ‘The governance of health: medical, economic and managerial expertise in Britain since 1948’.

From 2019-22 I was a Fellow in Social Inequalities in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. Here, I supported the research and engagement work of the Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Inequalities (CASEI) directed by Distinguished Professor Beverley Skeggs. I was also the lead for Archives, Collections and the Documents of life stream as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership Methods Programme.

From 2022-23 I was a Research Fellow in the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology at the University of Birmingham researching contracting between the NHS and the disclaimed sector from 1948 to 1979. This was on a Wellcome-funded award led by Professor John Mohan entitled ‘Border crossings: charity and voluntarism in Britain’s mixed economy of health care since 1948’.

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