Skip to main content

Staff Profile

Debra Westlake

Research Fellow

Kath Maguire

I am primarily a qualitative researcher, with a specific interest in ethnography and its application to mixed methods studies. I work in applied health service research that seeks to make research findings accessible to patients and practitioners and inform practice. 

I joined Plymouth University in May, 2014 to work on the ethnographic component of the Avoidable Acute Admissions (AAA) Study. While with PenCLAHRC I have also completed a qualitative evaluation of a third sector organisation’s project, which provides a phone link service to socially isolated groups within the seafaring community.

My interests are in people’s and practitioners’ views and experiences of health services and the participation of patients in the development of services. I am currently exploring the triad of patient, relative and practitioner role in decision making about acute admissions and interested in initiatives that promote person-centred care practices. I am working on an evaluation of Integrated Personal Commissioning across the South West and am also part of the NHS England Evaluation team for this initiative. 

Before coming to Plymouth, I worked for the Department of General Practice, University of Liverpool, on a qualitative study of GP attitudes to completing benefit claim forms, and for the Health and Community Care Research Unit (HaCCRU) at the University of Liverpool, on a mixed methods project that examined the impact of health policy on family management of health. I was also employed by The Children’s Society to design and carry out a study of community child health needs, commissioned by purchasers and providers of local health services.
I initially qualified as a Speech and Language therapist, working in the health, education and voluntary sectors. I am the co-founder of a project in Peru and a UK registered charity (Westnell UK in partnership with Sembrando Juntos, Peru) that provides pre-school education and community development for families in shanty towns of Lima. Working internationally has allowed me to learn about the joys and challenges of applying practice across cultures and sensitised me to local variation in implementation. My understanding of the role of the community in informing health and parenting practices in families has been key to this work.

Email me

Contact by phone
01752 762133

Employed by
University of Plymouth

Areas of expertise
Qualitative methods, child and family health, emergency care


Avoidable Acute Admissions (AAA)

Person-Centred Coordinated Care (P3C)


How can frontline expertise and new models of care best contribute to safely reducing avoidable acute admissions? A mixed-methods study of four acute hospitals.

Upcoming Events


Making Sense of Health Research...

Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre, TQ11 0EG

  Making Sense of Health Research Annual Conference Friday 1st November, Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre At PenARC we believe...
More information


PPI Advice Clinic

South Cloisters, St Luke's Campus, University of Exeter

Patient and Public Involvement Advice Clinics Held every month 30 minutes between 12pm-1pm Whatever your query, from finding...
More information



Social prescribing – who does it work for and why?

10 October 2019

In a time when people are living longer, but with more complex healthcare needs, GPs...
Read more

Research Fellow - Researcher in Residence (RiR) - Social Prescribing

07 October 2019

An exciting opportunity has arisen for an experienced Research Fellow to join the Community and Primary...
Read more

Domestic violence and abuse: how NIHR research is helping families in the South West

03 October 2019

Domestic violence and abuse is devastating and impacts the whole family, not just the person...
Read more