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Professor Susan Fairlie

Visiting Professor of Quality Improvement

Institute of Health & Society

Contact Details



Susan is a Visiting Professor of Quality Improvement within the Institute of Health and Society.

She is a clinician and organisational development specialist. She has significant experience of the NHS and has worked across the health sector from primary care to tertiary care. She has held several national senior leadership roles (including the Department of Health and Institute for Innovation and Improvement). In all of these roles, she has been preoccupied with improving the quality of healthcare. She was previously the Director of Service Development and Executive Nurse in an NHS Trust. Susan’s contribution to the NHS improvement agenda has been recognised through, amongst other things, an invitation to meet the Prime Minister at Downing Street. She was co-author of the application which won Doctor of the Year for Nurse-led care in primary care.

• MSc (Ashridge Masters in Organisational Consulting)
• BSc (Hons) First Class (Advanced Professional Studies)
• Registered General Nurse
• Executive Coaching Strathclyde University
• NLP Practitioner
• Prince 2 Project Management
• ENB A51 (Specialist Practitioner)
• ENB NO1 (Counselling)
• ENB 901 (Family Planning)
• Preparation for Primary Practice
• NVQ Management Level 1V
• ENB 998 (Teaching and assessing)
• ENB 100 (ICU Nursing)
• CGFNS (nursing qualification for USA)

Teaching & Research

Teaching & Research


  • MSc Advancing practice; Challenging and Enhancing Service Delivery: The Science of Service Improvement
  • Quality Improvement Masterclasses for Institute of Health and Society staff
  • Guest speaker on level 7 and level 8 leadership research programme (University was awarded the tender from Health Education West Midlands) 
  • Designed and delivered master classes for delegates from Worcester Acute Trust undertaking the University Professional Development Award: Senior Leadership
    • Cultivating a Culture for Quality
    • Innovation in health: what does this mean and what are the enablers?

Research interests

  • Compassionate leadership
  • Quality Improvement in healthcare
  • Safer clinical systems and human factors
  • Innovation and creativity 
  • Relational change

Professional Experience

Professional Experience

As well as her clinical background, Susan is an Executive Coach, an NLP Practitioner, an accredited Leadership Framework Facilitator. She is also licensed to use both the Strengths Deployment Inventory and Emotions and Behaviours at Work frameworks. She is an experienced facilitator and is particularly skilled in Quality Improvement; applying innovation, co-design, service improvement and transformation techniques, including spread and adoption and LEAN approaches.

In 2011 Susan worked with Sir Ian Carruthers on the Chief Executive’s Innovation Review which culminated in the report ‘Innovation, Health and Wealth’. She has undertaken a number of interim Director roles and has worked with some of the most ‘challenged’ Trusts in England. She has designed and delivered a number of clinical leadership development programmes and in collaboration with a major global management company; co-designed large-scale development programmes with a focus on improving patient safety, experience and effectiveness.

She was a key member of the team which pioneered co-design principles and Experience Based Design which has since been rolled out extensively across the NHS. When working in Equality and Human Rights at the DH she oversaw the patient and public engagement strategy for groups who are typically considered ‘hard to reach’ and ensured that service improvements were co-designed.

Susan has given keynote presentations at both national and international conferences.



  • Fairlie S (2013) Improving quality at the front line: the value of fresh eyes; The Consultant; issue 20: 88-92
  • Book review (If Disney Ran Your Hospital). Nursing Management 2009; 16:4, 9.
  • Department of Health (2008). Making the difference: a beginner’s guide to service improvement for equality and diversity in the NHS.
  • Marriott R, Fairlie S, Development of computer templates for the management of Hyperlipidaemia in primary care (a Beacon service). Atherosclerosis 2000: 537.
  • Inglis I, Fairlie S. Introduction of significant event audits to a primary health care team. Journal of Integrated Care 2000; 4:43-44.
  • Fairlie S, Inglis I, Hyams T. Partnership Working, Sexual Health and Young People: A User Friendly Approach. Journal of Integrated Care Pathways. December 2001 issue
  • Fairlie S. Home BP monitoring by patients saves time (letter). Practice Nurse 2002, 23:9;16.
  • Inglis I, Fairlie S. An Integrated Approach to Clinical Governance Within a PHCT Journal of Clinical excellence 2002 4: 111-14.
  • Dancy M, Liddiard S, Fairlie, S et al, Better care without delay: heart failure. The British Journal of Cardiology 2003, 10:3 189-192.
  • Heart Failure Service Improvement Guide CD Rom May, 2004. Ref MASITCHD027
  • Improving secondary prevention of coronary heart disease; using the new GP contract to drive change. British Journal of Cardiology 2004, 11:2 106-111
  • Fairlie S, Matthews G. chest pain in primary care. British Journal of Primary Care Nursing  2004, 1:3
External Responsibilities

External Responsibilities

  • Member of the Improvement Faculty with NHS Improving Quality.
  • Associate with a number of major consultancy organisations
  • Member of Healthwatch Worcestershire Reference and Engagement Group
  • Member of Malvern Health Centre Patient Participation Group