Three Exeter primary care research projects funded under NIHR research school

The projects aim to improve different aspects of primary care in the UK.

Three projects that aim to improve different aspects of primary care in the UK will be funded as part of the University of Exeter’s recent membership in a national research collaboration.

The projects have been awarded more than £350,000, in total, by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research (SPCR). The School is a national collaboration of nine leading academic primary care centres that excel in research into the first point of care in the NHS. They aim to strengthen the sector together, which includes general practice, community pharmacy, dental and optometry services.

The funding is being granted in the form of three fellowships after the University of Exeter Collaboration for Academic Primary Care (APEx) joined the School in April.

The funding will support:

  • Clinical Fellow, Dr Sarah Moore, in her work on improving early cancer diagnosis, alongside her clinical work as a GP. She will particularly explore optimising the process of urgently referring patients to hospital to see a specialist if they have symptoms that might indicate cancer.
  • Research Fellow, Dr Emma Cockcroft, in co-developing a programme designed to support and encourage physical activity in adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes. She will work with adolescents, parents and carers, PE teachers, sports coaches and health care professionals to help ensure the programme developed is appropriate for this group and meets genuine needs.
  • Research Fellow, Dr Sinead McDonagh, in exploring and seeking further funding for a programme of work aimed at enhancing the assessment of postural hypotension (the drop in blood pressure that can happen when standing up from sitting or lying down). It is seldom checked for in primary care, although common and associated with an increased risk of falls, cognitive impairment and mortality.

John Campbell, Professor of General Practice and Primary Care and Director of SPCR for University of Exeter said: “These are the first of many great opportunities that we anticipate will flow from Exeter’s recent membership of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. We’re delighted to see a range of opportunities for three of our talented local primary care researchers as they develop their careers. Each is undertaking research which is directly relevant to the care of patients and we wish them well as they develop their research interests and expertise.”

The NIHR SPCR started a new phase in April that came with £22 million research funding and runs 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 nine member institutions share their expertise with non-member institutions, with a strong emphasis on engaging, collaborating and partnering with institutions beyond the school membership.

Alongside the University of Exeter, the current member institutions are University of Bristol, University of Keele, University of Manchester, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), University of Southampton and University College London (UCL).

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