KHPeople: Prof Irene Higginson

Find out why research matters in Palliative Care and how Irene works to impact policy and inspire change. 

What is your role? 

I'm a Professor of Palliative Care and Policy in the Cicely Saunders Institute (CSI) within Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care (NMPC), King’s College London (KCL). I'm also one of the co-leaders of the Palliative Care Clinical Academic Group (CAG). 

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

Prof Irene Higginson I enjoy working with all the talented people across KHP, the networks of health providers and the public and patients who inform our research. As a clinical academic I can ensure my research is informed by clinical issues, and I can think how to help bring my academic research into clinical practice and policy.  

I learned a lot from and enjoy very much all the patient and public involvement that informs what we are doing. At least 42% more people will need palliative care in England and Wales by 2040, I am inspired to discovery ways of action to transform health, social and palliative care services to meet the projected growth. 

What inspired you to get into this work? 

I have a passion for research to make a difference. I realize there is an urgent need for better end of life care, and I realized I was quite good at bringing research into practice, and that’s why I’m where I’m now. I believe patients and families deserve the best in care and treatment, and I hope we will offer better care and treatments in the future. 

What are the benefits of working in partnership?  

There’re many benefits. Our rapid and effective response during COVID-19 was a good illustration of the benefits of working in partnership. During COVID-19, because we have already been working together closely, we knew each other very well, we understand each other’s perspectives and timelines across research and clinical, and therefore, we could work together much more quickly to tackle the pandemic challenges. 

What would be your one career top tip to staff and students?  

Find ways to enjoy what you’re doing, do things as well as you can, work with good people, prioritise the important things, and be prepared to confront the things you’re not so good at and decide a strategy. 

Liked this article? Click here to learn more about Irene’s interests and experience and check out Irene’s paper recommendations:    

To find out more about the palliative care programme visit the King’s College London website.