Remote consultations in primary care with patients from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities: A realist evaluation


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, UWE Bristol. The studentship will be funded by UWE Bristol. Reference: 2022-JAN-HAS03.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 5 September 2021.

About the studentship

COVID-19 has imposed unprecedented impact on the delivery of primary care services. Restrictions on face-to-face (F2F) services heralded rapid, at scale implementation of Remote Consultation (RC). Despite previous drives for NHS ‘digital transformation’, uptake was slow and associated with logistical challenge; yet within two months, radical change to service delivery occurred. NHS Digital demonstrates that, in February 2020 (pre-lockdown), 81% of primary care appointments were F2F; yet, by April 2020 (during lockdown), 47% of appointments were F2F.

Recent data suggest that this shift in consultation format has been sustained despite the removal of most restrictions – data for April 2021 show that 55% were F2F and remote consultation accounted for the remainder, demonstrating the enduring nature of alternative technological consultations.

Changes to delivery format could be transformational for NHS practice, and are recognised as an inevitable change to future delivery. Whilst transformational for the NHS, such innovation also has the potential to create and perpetuate health inequalities due to technological access and challenges with remote communication. Of particular concern is the impact digital consultations may have on people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and socio-deprived backgrounds.

This PhD will investigate remote consultations with people from BAME backgrounds. It will examine ‘what works, for whom, in what circumstances, how and why’, and create an implementation toolkit to ensure safe, efficient and inclusive future Remote Consultations.

The underpinning methodology is Realist Evaluation, a theory-driven approach, concerned with understanding the interaction between contextual elements and underlying programme mechanisms that influence outcomes of interventions. Central to the realist approach is determining ‘What works, for whom, in what circumstances, how and why?'.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Professor Nicola Walsh (


The studentship is available from the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,609 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


Applicants must have a first degree in a relevant area and ideally will have a relevant Masters qualification in healthcare or realist methodology. 

A recognised English language qualification is required.

We particularly encourage applications from BAME candidates as we are currently under-represented in these areas within UWE Bristol - although all appointments will be made on merit.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted, use the reference number 2022-JAN-HAS03. Applications which do not include a studentship reference number cannot be considered for shortlisting.

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form. Applications which are incomplete at the application deadline will not be considered for shortlisting.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Sunday 5 September 2021.

Further information

Interviews will take place on Friday 29 October 2021. If you have not heard from us by that date, we thank you for your application but, on this occasion, you have not been successful.

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