Sir Muir Gray


Muir Gray entered the Public Health Service by joining the City of Oxford Health Department in 1972 after qualifying in medicine in Glasgow, the city of his birth.
The first phase of his professional career focused on disease prevention, for example on helping people stop smoking. He also developed a local, then national programme of work to promote health in old age. Based on work in Oxford he developed a number of national initiatives, particularly designed to prevent hospital admission and facilitate hospital discharge, including the prevention of hypothermia, publishing a Fabian Society report on the relationship between housing and poverty and the excess winter deaths, that took place in the United Kingdom. He was also the Secretary of ASH Action on Smoking and Health. In 1975 he published articles on the effects of isolation, titled Brainwashing in Oxfordshire. and in the 1980s he published a number of key books and articles including the first book on Prevention of Disease in the Elderly and in an article in the BMJ he described the fitness gap for the first time. He also challenged the conventional wisdom, that all older people need was "care' ie things done for them. This was in an article in the Lancet titled Do We 'Care' too much for our Elders?
Then he developed all the screening programmes in the NHS, for pregnant women, children, adults and older people for example offering managed sixty five screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm and, for both men and women, screening for colorectal cancer.From 1990 on he had other responsibilities, notably being the Regional Director of Public Health and Director of the National Screening Service but maintained his interest in population ageing and in the provision of best current knowledge and evidence to the public, for example, setting up NHS Choices and the One You programme www.nhs.uk/oneyou now part of www.nhs.uk
​Working on the principle that the delivery of clean clear knowledge was analogous to the provision of clean clear water he saw the organisation and delivery of knowledge as a public health service He launched up the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in Oxford and was the first secretary of the Cochrane Collaboration. During this period he was appointed as the Chief Knowledge Officer of the NHS and was awarded both a CBE and later a Knighthood for services for the NHS. He set up charities to promote urban walking and an Oxford-based Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.
He is worked with both NHS England and Public Health England to bring about a transformation of care with the aim of increasing value for both populations and individuals launching the NHS Atlases of Variation. He set up the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and Better Value Healthcare and has published a series of How To Handbooks, for example, How `to Get Better Value Healthcare, How To Build Healthcare Systems and How To Create the Right Healthcare Culture. This is now a Social Enterprise - the Oxford Centre for Triple Value Healthcare. He was the principal expert adviser to the European Union in the production of their report on Value Based Healthcare in 2019.

His mission, of fifty years, is how to help people live longer better is ageing and how to cope with it and he has published a book for people aged seventy called Sod 70 ! one for the younger decade, with Claire Parker, called Sod60!, and, with the Green Goddess Diana Mora, Sod Sitting, Get Moving and a book on diet - Sod It, Eat Well! Based on his research and experience he has developed a new paradigm to help people Live Longer Better, to compress morbidity at the end of life and to reduce the incidence of dementia and frailty and therefore reduce the need for social care. This is based on the new Optimal Ageing Programme at Oxford and in the National Network, now covering more than 20 million of the population and using the systems methodology, and the need for culture change, developed while setting up and running the national screening programmes.
He is married, having met his wife in an old people's home when she was a social worker and has two daughters.
The core Optimal Ageing team represents the populations in their 50s, 60s, 70s and the 80s and 90s. Working alongside Muir are:

  • Neil Bacon was working as a junior doctor in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford when he decided to do something about the fact that doctors had to pay to use email. He set up Doctors Net UK which continued to flourish long after email became 'free' for everyone because it was a community. Neil then set up www.iwantgreatcare.org, one of the first services to review patients experience. He is currently professor for digital health at the University of Exeter.
  • Peter Brambleby is a doctor who specialised in public health, both as a Director for Public Health and nationally as part of a team developing programme budgeting. He is still working part time in this field. His main mission now is the development of a health and wellbeing service based at Whitewoods near Harrogate.
  • Alastair Tulloch qualified in Aberdeen in 1950 and was a GP in Bicester with a particular interest in population ageing and a specific focus on the health of people aged 85+.

This core team is supported by a technical team consisting of Tom Futter, Ruth Brice and Anant Jani.
​So let's get going. The revolution starts here.