Christopher Sirrs

Hi, I’m Dr Christopher Sirrs, a historian based at the University of Warwick, UK . My research interests as an historian are diverse, encompassing the history of medicine, public health, risk, and safety.

My current research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, explores the history of 'safety' in the British National Health Service. As Covid-19 has dramatically brought to the fore, the safety of patients and the health and safety of hospital staff are interlinked. 'Hazardous Hospitals: Cultures of Safety in NHS General Hospitals, c.1960-Present' explores the development of ideas, norms, values and practices around safety in NHS hospitals. These include policies around patient and staff consultation, to reporting and learning systems, clinical audit, whistleblowing procedures, risk assessment, and campaigns around various hazards.

Previously, I have investigated the emergence of anxieties around 'fake' drugs in global health, and the intellectual and policy history of 'health systems' thinking. My research has involved examining the role of international agencies such as the World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation and World Bank, as well as national regulatory agencies such as the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE). My PhD, completed in 2016, explored the historical development of the British system of health and safety regulation: a theme I am now continuing to explore, in the domain of hospitals.



Sirrs, C. (2021). "The Health of Nations: International Health Accounting in Historical Perspective, 1925–2011". In: Axel Hüntelmann and Oliver Falk (eds), Accounting for Health: Calculation, Paperwork and Medicine, 1500–2000. Manchester University Press.

Gorsky, M., & Sirrs C. (2020) "Universal Health Coverage as a Global Public Health Goal: the work of the International Labour Organisation, c.1925-2018". História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, 27, suppl., 71-93 (open access).

Sirrs, C. (2019). "Promoting Health Protection Worldwide: The International Labour Organisation and Health Systems Financing, 1952–2012". The International History Review, DOI: (Open access).

Gorsky, M., & Sirrs, C. (2019). "From 'Planning' to 'Systems Analysis': Health Services Strengthening at the World Health Organisation, 1952–1975". Dynamis, 39(1), 205-233 (open access).

Gorsky, M., & Sirrs, C. (2018). "The Rise and Fall of Universal Health Coverage as a Goal of International Health Politics, 1925–1952", American Journal of Public Health, 108(3), 334–342. View pre-print version here

Gorsky, M., & Sirrs, C. (2017). "World health by place: The politics of international health system metrics, 1924–c. 2010". Journal of Global History, 12(3), 361-385 (open access).

Sirrs, C. (2016). Health and Safety in the British Regulatory State: The HSC, HSE and the Management of Occupational Risk. Ph.D. thesis, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (open access).

Sirrs, C. (2016). "Risk, Responsibility and Robens: The Transformation of the British System of Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, 1961–1974". In: Tom Crook and Mike Esbester (eds), Governing Risk in Modern Britain, 1800–2000, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. View accepted manuscript here

Sirrs, C. (2016). "Accidents and Apathy: The Construction of the ‘Robens Philosophy’ of Occupational Safety and Health Regulation in Britain, 1961–1974", Social History of Medicine, 29(1), 66-88 (open access).