Our Founder: Professor Aidan Halligan


Professor Aidan W.F Halligan MA, MD, FRCOG, FFPHM, MRCPI, FRCC (17 September 1957 to 27 April 2015) was an Irish doctor and NHS leader.

Aidan was renowned for courageously challenging the status quo in healthcare. He confronted bullying and harassment and championed a culture of high quality care delivered by well-led teams. ‘Doing the right thing on a difficult day’ was his mantra.

He was a celebrated and inspirational orator, speaking without notes, with warmth and humour, often saying that “people will forget what you have said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Professor Halligan died of a heart attack at his home on 27 April 2015.

Medical Career

Aidan grew up in Templeogue, Dublin. He and his wife, Dr Carol Furlong, qualified from Trinity College Dublin in 1984, after which he began his internship at the Royal City of Dublin Hospital. He continued his medical training at St James Hospital, the Rotunda Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae, achieving an MD and MA from Trinity College Dublin in 1993.

He moved to the University of Leicester and Leicester Royal Infirmary in 1993 rising from Lecturer and Senior Registrar to Professor of Fetal Maternal Medicine in 1997 to become the youngest professor of his specialty.

High Office

Between 1999 and 2006, Aidan held a number of high profile NHS appointments: Head of the NHS Clinical Governance Support Team, Director of Clinical Governance for the NHS and Deputy Chief Medical Officer (6 January 2003 to 30 September 2005) where his focus was on safety and quality of healthcare.

In 2004, he turned down an appointment with the Irish Government as the first head of the Health Service Executive.

Human Factors and Education

In 2006, with the freedom to try out new ideas, he ran Elision Health Limited, an innovative training establishment in Leicester where surgical and multi-disciplinary teams could develop their leadership skills.

In 2007, Aidan was appointed Director of Education at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust where he was responsible for curricular and non-curricular education across the trust. He commissioned a state of the art simulation or “Learning Hospital” Education Centre designed around human factors education with the aim of improving quality of healthcare and team leadership.

Improving the safety of care for patients

From 2008 to 2013, Aidan also held the post of Chief of Safety for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, the first position of its kind in the NHS where he encouraged staff to speak up for those in their care, and for each other, and to focus on great bedside care. He appointed the first independent Patient Safety Ombudsman with a whistle blowing remit across the hospital.

Improving care for homeless patients: Pathway

The death of a homeless man outside University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust resulted in Aidan establishing a specialist homeless healthcare team with a philosophy of combining personalised care with holistic services. In 2009, Aidan founded and chaired the independent homeless healthcare charity, London Pathway (renamed Pathway in 2010), which focuses on improving the health of the most excluded. By 2015, there were ten Pathway teams in ten hospitals throughout the UK.

Developing leadership and healthcare leaders: NHS Staff College

During this time, Aidan visited the field hospital at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, where the international hospital was led by British regular and NHS reservist doctors and nurses. Aidan returned to England determined to replicate the leadership and cultural experience he had witnessed.

In 2010, Aidan launched the NHS Staff College, an initiative bringing together an expert faculty of experienced military, NHS and business leaders to deliver a unique brand of immersive and personally challenging leadership development programmes, with a vision to improve leadership across the health service. It was hosted by the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

In 2012, the first devolved Staff College campus was started at Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Merseyside.

In 2013, Aidan was appointed Honorary Colonel of 256 Field Hospital in London.

Staff College later incorporated as an independent charity, The Staff College: Leadership in Healthcare, with the backing of Public Health England, in 2016. It is dedicated to developing healthcare leaders and helping them to deliver better outcomes.

The Staff College continues to host an annual Professor Aidan Halligan Memorial Lecture. Former speakers include Sir Robert Francis QC, Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, and Brigadier Kevin Beaton OBE, Commander, 2nd Medical Brigade and Sir Ian Kennedy.

Reducing health inequalities: WellNorth

In 2014, Aidan established Well North, a strategic collaboration between Public Health England, the University of Manchester and a range of partners in nine areas across the North of England.  Well North, which is now led by Lord Andrew Mawson, seeks to reduce health inequalities and worklessness, a major cause of ill health, and to improve individual, family and community resilience. 


Aidan Halligan obituary. The Guardian, 19 June 2015

RIP Professor Aidan Halligan. Health Policy Insight, 27 April 2015

Obituary: Aidan Halligan. The College of Medicine. Retrieved 19 January 2016

Hundreds pay tribute to health professional who died suddenly, aged 57. Leicester Mercury, 30 June 2015

Prof Aidan Halligan dies at the age of 57. The Irish Times, 27 April 2015

NHS doctor Professor Aidan Halligan dies aged 57. The Irish Post, 29 April 2015

HALLIGAN, Prof. Aidan : Death notice. The Irish Times, 3 May 2015

Professor Aidan Halligan. University of Leicester, 27 April 2015

Death of Prof Aidan Halligan. Irish Medical Times, 28 April 2015

Aidan Halligan – Obituary. NHS Alliance, 30 April 2015


Memorial for Professor Aidan Halligan, July 2016 with moving tributes from Brigadier Johnny Wardle OBE, Dr Nigel Hewett OBE, Alex Bax, Professor Barry McCormick, Duncan Selbie, Trudy Boyce, Penny Heffernan and John Mackmersh.

Pathway tribute to Aidan Halligan

Professor Aidan Halligan, Memorial Booklet. July 2015

Three lessons from a good man. John Walsh, 1 May 2015

Leadership, the human connection. Ashley Prime 21 July 2015

Aidan Halligan. Goodbye to a good and wise man. LinkedIn, 28 April 2015

A tribute to Aidan Halligan. Siobhan Sheridan 3 May 2015

A tribute to Aidan Halligan. Ann Petit

Interviews and Speeches

Welcome to Staff College: Interview with Prof Aidan Halligan

Learning Leadership: How to become a leader in the NHS Prof Aidan Halligan, 19 February 2014

Leaders in Medicine: Interview with Prof Aidan Halligan

Rediscovering Lost Value, Prof Aidan Halligan 28 September 2014

Professor Aidan Halligan at the MAHSC Our Impact on Health Conference, December 2014

Professor A Halligan Irish National Health Summit Croke Park, Published 7 May 2015

Inception of the London Pathway. Pathway. Retrieved 19 January 2016

Original articles in peer reviewed journals

Halligan A, O’Brien E, O’Malley K, Darling M, Walshe J. Clinical application of ambulatory blood pressure measurement in pregnancy. Journal of Hypertension Suppl. 1991; 9(8):S75-7. PubMed 1795211

Halligan A, O’Brien E, O’Malley K, Mee F, Atkins N, Conroy R, Walshe JJ, Darling M. Twenty-four hour ambulatory blood pressure measurement in a primigravid population. Journal of Hypertension. 1993 Aug; 11(8): 869-73. PubMed 8228211

Halligan A, Bonnar J, Sheppard B, Darling M, Walshe J. Haemostatic, fibrinolytic and endothelial variables in normal pregnancies and pre-eclampsia. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 1994 Jun; 101(6):488-92. PubMed 8018635

Halligan A. Shennan A, Lambert, PC, de Swiet M, Taylor DJ. Diurnal blood pressure difference in the assessment of pre-eclampsia. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1996 Feb; 87(2):205-8. PubMed 8559524

Halligan AW, Shennan A, Lambert PC, Bell SC, Taylor DJ, de Swiet M. Automated blood pressure measurement as a predictor of proteinuric pre-eclampsia. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 1997 May; 104(5):559-62. PubMed 9166197

Donaldson L, Halligan A. Implementing clinical governance: turning vision into reality. British Medical Journal June. 2001 Jun 9; 322(7299):1413-7. PubMed 11397753

Editorial comments

Achieving best practice in maternity care. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 1997 Aug; 104(8):873-5. PubMed 9255073

Halligan AW, Bell SC, Taylor DJ. Dipstick proteinuria: caveat emptor. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 1999 Nov; 106(11):1113-5. PubMed 10549952

Halligan A. The importance of values in healthcare. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2008 Oct; 101(8):480-1. PubMed 18840859

Hewett N, Halligan A. Homelessness is a healthcare issue. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2010 Aug; 103(8):306-7. PubMed 20675771

Halligan A. National Disgrace, The Big Issue 2009 Dec.

Halligan A. The need for an NHS staff college. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2010 Oct; 103(10):387-91. PubMed 20929889

Halligan A. The NHS White Paper: licence for radical cultural reform of the NHS? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2011 Apr; 104(4):146-8. PubMed 21502212

Halligan A. Patient safety: culture eats strategy for breakfast. British Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2011 Oct; 72(10):548-9. PubMed 22041722

Halligan A. Lessons in leadership. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2012 Jun: 105(6):230–1. PubMed 22722963

Walker J, Andrews S, Grewcock D, Halligan A. Life in the slow lane: making hospitals safer, slowly but surely. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2012 Jul: 105(7):283–7. PubMed 22843646

Amin Y, Grewcock D, Andrews S, Halligan A. Why patients need leaders: introducing a ward safety checklist. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2012 Sep: 105(9):377–83. PubMed 22977047

Hewett N, Halligan A, Boyce T. A general practitioner and nurse led approach to improving hospital care for homeless people. British Medical Journal. 2012 Sep 28; 345:e5999. PubMed 23045316

Andrews S, Halligan A. UCL Partnership NHS Staff College. British Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2012 Nov; 73(11):604–5. PubMed 23147356

Halligan A. The Francis report: what you permit, you promote. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2013 Apr: 106(4):116–7. PubMed 23564888

Halligan A. The importance of ward rounds: a time to connect? British Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2013 Apr; 74(4):184–5. PubMed 23571386

Hewett N, Bax A, Halligan A. Integrated Care for Medicine. 2013 Sep; 74(9):484-5. PubMed 24022546

Invited chapters and forewords

Chapter: “Measurement of Blood Pressure in Pregnancy”. Shennan AH, Halligan AWF. In: Handbook of Hypertension, Volume 21. Editor: Professor Peter C Rubin. Publisher: Elsevier Science BV, Oxford, 2000. pp 13-31. ISBN 10: 0444504168, ISBN 13: 9780444504166

Chapter: “Clinical governance: developing organisational capability”. Halligan A, Nicholls S, O’Neill S. In: Clinical Governance and the NHS Reforms: Enabling Excellence or Imposing Control? Editors: Miles A, Hill A, Hunwitz B. Publisher: Aesculapius Medical Press, London, 2001. ISBN 9781903044162

Chapter: “Improving the Quality of Clinical Care”. Halligan A, Wall D, Bradbury P. In: Scott-Brown’s Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery, Seventh Edition. Editor: Gleeson M. Publisher: Hodder Arnold, London, 25 April 2008. ISBN 10: 0340808934, ISBN 13: 9780340808931

Foreword: Halligan AWF, Bevington J. In: Cultures for Performance in Health Care (State of Health). Editors: Mannion R, Davies H, Marshall M. Open University Press, New York, 2004. PP xv-xviii. ISBN 10: 033521553X, ISBN 13: 9780335215539

Chapter: The impact of patient choice on NHS staff. Halligan A. In: Patient Power – the impact of patient choice on the future NHS. Editors: Margaret Mythen, Tom Coffey. The New Health Network, London, 2004, pp 47-50. ISBN 10: 0954784235, ISBN 13: 9780954784232

Chapter: “Clinical governance: improving the child’s experience of healthcare”. Donaldson L, Halligan A, Wall D. In: Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of Child Healthcare – handbook for paediatricians. Editor: Patrick HT Cartlidge. Elsevier, 12 Jul 2007. ISBN 10: 0080446825, ISBN 13: 9780080446820

Chapter: “Clinical governance: accountability in an information age”. Halligan A. In: Clinical Negligence. Editors Michael Powers, Nigel Harris, Anthony Barton. Tottel Publishing; 4Rev Ed edition, 16 May 2008. ISBN 10: 1847660754, ISBN 13: 9781847660756