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Queen Mary joins NIHR School to strengthen primary care research

The NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) has announced the fourth phase of the School for Primary Care Research (SPCR), which now involves Queen Mary University of London, and a new focus on supporting the full spectrum of primary care research and building research capacity.

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NIHR research schools are national collaborations between leading academic centres that fund outstanding research in primary care, public health and social care. The SPCR carries out world-leading research in primary care, providing a focus for primary care research within the NIHR and supporting the development of primary care research.

Chris Griffiths, Professor of Primary Care at Queen Mary University of London, said: "We are delighted to join with other members of the new School for Primary Care Research to push forward research addressing the most pressing problems facing primary care in the NHS."

The SPCR’s new focus on health inequalities and multi-morbidity has particular relevance to Queen Mary and its local communities in the east end of London. The university will help the SPCR to address these and other key challenges in primary health care.

Meeting the needs of local populations

The new phase of the school, which has been awarded £22 million, will start in April 2021 and run for a five year period. The school has also received funding of £10 million from the NIHR Academy to support capacity building in primary care research.

New director Professor Christian Mallen, NIHR Research Professor in General Practice and the Head of the School of Medicine at Keele University, said: "I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed director of the NIHR School of Primary Care Research. The renewed membership provides a real opportunity to build on past success whilst extending our remit to work with a broader group of partners.”

The core research priorities for the refreshed SPCR are organised around some of the challenges facing national and international primary care. They are organised into four broad themes:

  • Changing patterns of morbidity and mortality
  • Challenges around new technologies
  • Workforce and skill mix in primary care
  • Globalisation, health and inequalities

The renewed SPCR will continue to conduct research that responds to and meets the needs of local populations and local health and care systems, and which addresses the nation’s changing demographics and corresponding impact on disease burdens and service demands.

Involving patients and the public

The current school undertakes a wide range of research projects as well as school-wide research programmes that focus on addressing major primary care challenges. For example, all nine school members collaborate on the CANcer Diagnosis Decision rules (CANDID) study, led by Professor Paul Little of the University of Southampton. The study aims to develop ways of predicting who is more at risk of getting lung or bowel cancer, to improve early detection and assist early referral.

Strong involvement and engagement of patients and the public will be central to the school, ensuring its work draws on their lived expertise, incorporates their perspectives and responds to their challenge. SPCR innovations in Patient Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) will continue in phase four.

Queen Mary is joined by other SPCR member institutions including University of Bristol, UCL, University of Exeter, Keele University, University of Manchester, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford and University of Southampton.

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