The AgeUK Award for Outstanding Impact in Public Policy and Services


Professor Helen Snooks and team in Patient and Population Health and Informatics, College of Medicine             

“Reducing the burden of emergency hospital attendances, for patients, carers and health providers, by improving out-of-hospital care”

Helen Snooks

Calls to emergency health services have increased substantially and the traditional ‘lights and siren’ ambulance response and transport to hospital is no longer sustainable. Professor Snooks and colleagues have undertaken a major research programme to identify and evaluate alternatives to ambulance dispatch and onward transport. 

Over the last 15 years, Professor Snooks’ team has worked to identify safe and cost-effective alternatives to ambulance dispatch and onward transport to hospital. The approach is founded upon collaboration and engagement - with policy makers, the NHS and patients as full partners, helping to prioritise and shape all aspects of the research. The team formed the UK wide 999 Emergency Services Research (EMS) Forum and TRUST research groups – both of which build capacity across trauma and unscheduled care research, help set research priorities and promote evidence based care.

The impact on emergency care is profound. In England for example, emergency calls not leading to hospital transport rose from 480,000 in 2001 (10%) to 4.1 million in 2013 (45%) with savings from avoided ambulance journeys of £60million (source: Health and Social Care Information Centre).

Judges’ comments:

“Operational impact on pre-hospital behaviour, wide ranging with precise data. An excellent summary of numerous research studies, which have contributed to some very significant outcomes. It is clear that reach has been achieved at national and international level, with good supporting evidence”.


Dr Stefan Doerr, Dr Rick Shakesby, Dr Cristina Santin, College of Science

“Hazard assessment and risk reduction policy following severe wildfires”

Stefan Doerr

Every year, wildfires burn an area of the globe that is 20 times the size of the UK. Fires cause land surface changes leading to flooding, landslides and aquifer contamination. The research has revealed a link between the severity of fires and changes to the soil that has led to substantial changes in the policy for mandatory assessments following fires in the USA. These revised assessments are underpinned by the methodology developed and are increasingly applied also in Europe, Canada and Australia. This now allows more effective landscape-rehabilitation to limit threats to life, property, infrastructure and ecosystem quality. The US Forest Service is responsible for 93 million ha of land. This represents a third of the total forested land area and a ninth of the total land area of the USA. Their data show that ~1.3 million hectares of burned land have been assessed in 2012 using the new post-fire assessment guidelines.

Judges’ comments:

“The research appears to have had considerable reach internationally, in the US and Australia especially”.


Professor Heaven Crawley. Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR), College of Science

“Assessing the age of children and young people seeking asylum: changes to policy and practice in the UK, Europe and beyond”

Heaven Crawley

This research was undertaken in response to growing concerns about the impact of age disputes on the protection and rights of asylum seeking children and young people. It identified an over-reliance on physical appearance and medical techniques with wide margins of error, and considerable variation in procedures for age assessment. The research has had a significant and well-documented impact on professional standards, guidelines and training on age assessment particularly for lawyers and social workers, and has informed policy debates in the UK, Europe and Australia. Since publication there have been steep drops in the percentages recorded as age disputed beginning in in 2009 with a fall of 57%. In 2012, just 328 individuals had their age disputed, a decrease of 12% compared with 2011 (374) and continuing recent year-on-year decreases.


Judges’ comments:

“There is no doubt that the research has achieved the considerable impact that is claimed. Reach has been achieved at national and international level and it is corroborated by some wonderful testimonials”.