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The University of Southampton

University confirmed as partners in NIHR school to strengthen primary care research

Published: 23 March 2021
Image by Mahmud Shoeb from Pixabay

The University’s School of Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education will be a partner in the NIHR’s School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) for the third successive term.

Professor Hazel Everitt from the University of Southampton will also take up a new post of Deputy Academic Capacity Development Lead at the SPCR and Professor Paul Little will continue to lead the University’s membership of the SPCR. 

NIHR research schools are national collaborations between leading academic centres that fund research in primary care, public health and social care.

This new phase of the SPCR has an explicit aim to strengthen the primary care research sector more broadly, covering sectors such as community nursing and pharmacy as well as general practice.

It 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.

The partnerships, funding and recognition that comes with membership of the SPCR, highlights the University of Southampton’s Primary Care Research Centre as one of the leading research departments in its field nationally and internationally.

New director Professor Christian Mallen, NIHR Research Professor in General Practice and the interim Director of the Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences at University of Keele, 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.”

Hazel Everitt, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Southampton said: “‘I‘m delighted to be appointed to the Deputy Academic Clinical Development Lead role and excited to play a part in developing and supporting the next generation of academic research leaders. Building primary care research capacity is vital to delivering high quality research which can improve patient care.”

The SPCR 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 Prof Paul Little. 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.

The University of Southampton team will use its continued membership of SPCR to build research capacity, extend collaborations and provide world-leading evidence in five areas:

(i) Non-communicable diseases, multimorbidity and ageing: evidence to improve the management of common long-term conditions, including mental health, back pain, skin problems, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease & asthma, Chronic Kidney Disease, dementia and malnutrition;

(ii) Research Innovation and new technologies: extending our Person-Based-Approach to developing treatments and support for people to manage their health problems; improving access to research; and the ways evidence from studies is summarised;

(iii) Organisation and delivery of care: improving the way health professionals communicate in everyday consultations;

(iv) Acute care: promoting prudent antibiotic use;

(v) Disease prevention and diagnosis: better early cancer diagnosis, less alcohol-related harm, better managing emotional distress, and reducing risks of acute kidney injury.

The University team will also aim to build collaborations through exchanges and joint projects, train more health professionals, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and improve patient care through implementing research findings.

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