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Professor Sarah Purdy

Professor Sarah Purdy

Professor Sarah Purdy
B Sc, MB BS, M.D.(Lond.), M.P.H.(Harvard), F.R.C.G.P., FRCP, FRCP Edinburgh

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience)

Area of research

Unscheduled care and avoidable hospital admissions

Beacon House,
Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1QU
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 42 83180


Sarah leads a research programme exploring predictors of, and interventions for, unscheduled care use and avoidable hospital admissions. Unplanned hospital admissions are one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS. They represent around 65 % of hospital bed days in England (34m bed days and 5 million emergency admissions in 2009/10) and despite the implementation of a large number of programmes aimed at reducing these admissions the numbers are growing rapidly year on year. Sarah's programme of research focuses on predicting and reducing risk factors for unplanned hospital admission and on the effectiveness of interventions to reduce admission. These projects include systematic reviews, qualitative studies, case studies and observational studies. The population and patient groups included vary from children with respiratory conditions to people at the end of life.

Sarah also collaborates on research projects in the areas of multi-morbidity, patient safety and the management of dermatological conditions. She is the author of a systematic review of interventions for acne.

Sarah is a member of a number of national research funding and related committees and an advisor to several national bodies.


Sarah is a Professor in the Centre for Academic Primary Care and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at the University of Bristol. She is also Director of NIHR CLAHRC West and leads the Bristol Health Partners Avoidable Admissions Health Integration Team (HIT). 

From 2015 to 2019 Sarah was Associate Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Head of School for Bristol Medical School. Sarah led on the creation of the Medical School bringing together the former Schools of Social and Community Medicine and Clinical Sciences and the medical education team and subsequently providing leadership for research and teaching within the new School.  

Sarah was appointed as a Consultant Senior Lecturer in Bristol in October 2006 after being awarded a Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship and became a Reader in 2011 and Professor in 2014. Prior to coming to Bristol she worked at the Hull York Medical School where she was involved in designing and delivering an innovative problem based learning curriculum and in developing a research strategy for the new organisation and it's academic and NHS partners. Previously, Sarah worked at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne as a Lecturer, subsequently Clinical Senior Lecturer, in Primary Health Care. She was a visiting fellow at Harvard University from 1995 to 1997. Sarah has a MD from the University of London and a Masters in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and of the Royal College of Physicians of London and Edinburgh. Sarah is an alumnus of the executive education programme at INSEAD in Fontainebleau. 

Sarah was Deputy Director of NIHR CLAHRC West from its foundation until July 2015. Sarah was a Non-executive director of an NHS board for seven years. She works clinically as a general practitioner at Sea Mills Surgery in Bristol.


In her former role as Head of School for Bristol Medical School, Sarah provided overall leadership for undergraduate and postgraduate education and post graduate research within the School, supported by the School Education Director, Postgraduate Research Directors and Programme Directors.    


  • management of disease
  • organisation and delivery of care
  • access to health care
  • evaluation of health care
  • long term conditions
  • predicting and preventing avoidable hospital admissions


I run a research programme looking at urgent care use including emergency hospital admissions and how to reduce these using interventions in primary care, ambulance services and emergency departments and hospitals.

  • predictors of primary care sensitive hospital admissions
  • primary care
  • unplanned hospital admission
  • urgent care
  • Memberships


    Senior Team

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    Centres, collaborations and units

    Recent publications

    View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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