Ruth Simms-Ellis


Ruth Simms-Ellis is a work psychologist who joined the University of Leeds in April 2012. She was the Trial Manager for a four-year pragmatic cluster RCT, which involved 45 high schools testing a classroom-based intervention to reduce smoking initiation in adolescents. Ruth is currently the Programme Manager for the ‘Improvement Science’ theme of work within the Yorkshire and Humber NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) at the Bradford Institute for Health Research.

For over 20 years Ruth has worked as an organisational consultant, helping to reduce stress, build resilience and enhance functioning, at individual, team and strategic levels. In particular, she has focused on supporting people exposed to traumatic events. In the financial services industry, she helped establish a peer-debriefing system for teams involved in armed robberies and developed a national anticipatory anxiety programme to boost team resilience in the event of a robbery. Ruth also worked clinically for the Ministry of Defence, assessing and treating military personnel with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Ruth has a BSc in Psychology (1st hons) from the University of Leeds and an MSc Occupational Psychology (distinction) from the University of Leicester, where she was awarded the Rob Stammers prize for outstanding achievement as a postgraduate student. She is close to submitting her PhD in Psychology at the University of Leeds.


Research interests

Ruth’s PhD research has examined the complex social-psychological processes and mechanisms influencing the engagement and retention of organisational sites in cluster trials.

Within her role in the ARC Improvement Science theme, Ruth is working on projects examining how to improve delayed transfers of care for elderly, frail patients and exploring links between Emergency Department clinicians’ tolerance of uncertainty, decision-making and patient outcomes. Ruth is also involved in numerous projects to support healthcare professionals after being involved in adverse events (i.e. errors and ‘near misses’). These include:

  1. Feasibility testing a prophylactic intervention to help prepare healthcare professionals for involvement in adverse events;
  2. Testing an intervention to help healthcare professionals disclose adverse events to patients and their families;
  3. Developing a national “second victim” website of resources to support healthcare professionals and organisations in dealing with adverse events;
  4. Supporting the establishment of a ‘Just Culture’ network in the NHS across Yorkshire and Humber.


  • BSc (1st hons) Psychology
  • MSc (distinction) Occupational Psychology
  • AEB Certificate in Counselling
  • PhD Psychology (in progress)

Professional memberships

  • British Psychological Society
  • British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

Student education

For the past five years I have lectured in the School of Psychology on numerous aspects of occupational and health psychology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.