Healthcare researchers in Oxford and seven other universities across England are to deliver a five-year national programme of research and training aimed at improving healthcare delivery in general practice.
The University of Oxford will continue to host the directorship for the next five-year phase of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) research and capacity programme, supported by funding of over £30 million.
The NIHR SPCR provides answers to practical and important health issues, informing NHS policy and clinical guidance, and aims to improve the experience of illness for patients.
From October 2015, membership of the England-wide school includes the Universities of Bristol, Keele, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Southampton and University College London, with the addition of the Universities of Cambridge and Newcastle.
Professor Richard Hobbs, Head of Department at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, has been re-appointed as Director.
“I am delighted to be re-appointed as Director of the School for Primary Care Research and would like to extend a warm welcome to colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge and Newcastle. Over the next five years, I look forward to seeing existing and new members develop innovative collaborations and excellent research, continuing to provide impact and inform the development of improved primary care practice across many areas of proficiency.”
The School's current research mandate is to increase the evidence base for primary care practice through research, and support the multi-disciplinary training and professional development of early-career researchers, across five main research themes:
- long-term condition management,
- methodological innovation,
- multi-morbidity and ageing,
- patient-centred care,
- prevention and diagnosis.
Over the next five years, the SPCR will award around £22 million of NIHR funding for primary care research, with a further £10 million awarded to support training and capacity development.
Since its 2006 launch, 252 research projects and 85 trainees have been funded by the SPCR. Its funded research influences GPs and other primary care practitioners, informs policy and NHS guidelines and impacts areas of secondary care beyond GP surgeries.
Recent School-funded research by GP and Academic Clinical Lecturer Dr Kay Wang (left) at the University of Oxford is helping to inform the debate for the need to introduce an additional pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine for adolescents. The study looked at the number of instances that 279 children aged 5–15 visited their GP with persistent cough and found pertussis infection in one fifth (20%) of children, including in 18% who had previously received a pre-school vaccine against the infection.
Other SPCR-funded research has investigated the rising number of A&E admissions, studied the needs of carers of domestic violence victims, strategies to reduce antiobiotic prescriptions and resistance, and the effect on the NHS of an ageing population.
In September 2015, the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences is due to relocate into the old Radcliffe Infirmary Outpatient’s Building, which is currently undergoing a £14m restoration as part of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter development.