Dr Jennifer Dixon

Category: 1990s /  All Harkness Stories /  Health & Social Care /  Politics & Public Services / 

Dr Jennifer Dixon (HF 90-91)

CBE, always had three magnetic poles: science, arts and politics. She made herself pursue science (long story) but after five years of medical school and 96 hour working weeks as a junior hospital doctor, by her late 20’s the other two poles began to take over. Jennifer applied a fellowship soon after, aiming to study why such an intelligent and wealthy society in the US was unable to provide decent health care for 17 million of its citizens? Based in New York in part at Montefiore Medical Center and Department of Health Policy at New York University, she studied why federal reform to improve access to care was blocked and what some states had done to bypass this. The answers included age-old debates about the role of federal government, layered on a culture where the ‘social justice thermostat’ was just set too cold (for European tastes).  What wasn’t too cold though was the energising informal can-do witty working environment, as opposed to the cardboard hierarchy she was more familiar with in Britain. Back home Jennifer went on to pursue a career in policy analysis, a PhD, working at the King’s Fund, at DH as policy advisor to the CE of the NHS, and she became the CE of the Nuffield Trust and now the Health Foundation. The latter now co-funds the current Harkness fellowship programme.