ISSUE 9 February 2003

UK Federation of
February 2003
Upheaval and New
Challenges. . .
The last few months have been
times of change. PCRNs have been
involved in deciding on the correct
organisational models for Research
Governance and Management
within PCT consortia and developing
the partnerships to make these new
organisations work. Setting up new
research studies has raised new
areas, particularly relating to
sponsorship and indemnity, that we
have had to address. The
restructuring within the Department
of Health and the demise of the four
Directorates of Health and Social
Care has generated concerns about
future funding for some PCRNs and
the Federation. The merger and renaming of networks (see associated
article by David Hannay about the
Scottish networks) and the
development of new networks
continues apace. Networks are
continually re-inventing themselves
and confusion is created by the use
of different names for the networks
that are promoting primary care
research (e.g. PCRN and R&D
Support unit). To say that this is a
time of upheaval and uncertainty is
an understatement!!
However, change not only provides
new challenges but also provides
opportunities. Back in our history
many networks arose from local
research clubs. Subsequently,
PCRNs became thought of as a
conduit to disseminate information
about R&D to primary care, they
then became associated with
capacity building and “bottom-up”
research. However, PCRNs are much
more than this. They are the means
by which high quality primary care
R&D can be delivered. Large multicentre trials or the recruitment of
representative cohorts of
patients/practitioners is dependent
on the involvement of well
organised primary care networks.
In this time of organisational
change, one of the major challenges
for networks is to ensure that we
maintain our profile and ensure that
we do not get forgotten about in the
new structures and funding streams.
The Federation has a voice on most
national bodies concerned with the
development of primary care
research (e.g. Society for Academic
Primary Care, Primary Care
Research Management &
Governance Group, RCGP Primary
Care Research Team Assessment
Project Management Advisory
Group, Conference of Academic
Organisations in General Practice,
RCGP Research Group, National
Cancer Research Network Primary
Care Studies Development Group)
and the members of the Steering
Group work hard to make sure that
the benefits of PCRN, to the
development of primary care
research, are not forgotten.
However, local publicity is just as
important as a national voice.
2002 was a successful year for many
networks. I would like to use this
newsletter to belatedly wish you all
a very productive and successful
Sue Wilson
Included in this issue
The future of PCRNs in
Evaluation Toolbox
News from the Research
Interest Groups
Report of the 5th Annual
Network Tour
The Future of
Primary Care
Networks in
Primary Care Research Networks
(PCRNs) in Scotland were
established between 1998 and 2000
with funding from the Chief
Scientist’s Office. This funding was
either from the NHS Support Fund
(TayRen, Forth Valley, Fresco,
Borders), from the Primary Care
Support Fund (Highlands & Islands,
Lothian, Dumfries & Galloway), or by
joint funding (Westnet). The aims
were to develop a culture of primary
care research by providing research
training, supporting researchers, and
undertaking non-commercial
research to improve the provision of
primary care.
However, not all parts of Scotland
were covered by the eight PCRNs,
which had different constitutions and
terms of reference. Some networks
were linked to university
departments or larger consortia such
as TayRen, some were based on
research practices such as WestNet,
and others linked to a primary care
trust with an emphasis on
individuals developing their own
research ideas (Dumfries &
Galloway). PCRNs in Scotland have
been under review, partly because of
the piecemeal nature of these
arrangements, partly because of a
reduction in funding from the Chief
Scientist’s Office with the Primary
Care Support Fund being abolished,
and partly because of research
governance which involves increased
management of research.
These problems were recognised
two years ago when a “Scottish
Framework for Primary Care
Research” was proposed based on
the MRC general practice research
framework. Following discussions,
this has now developed into the
“Scottish Practices and Professionals
Interested in Research” (SPPIRe).
SPPIRe aims to increase the amount
of research relevant to patient care
undertaken in a primary care setting.
The four principle functions will be
to develop a dynamic register of
research interested practices and
professionals, to translate research
requests and protocols into workable
procedures, to rationalise the
number of requests to professionals
and practices undertaking research,
and to link the primary care sector
into research governance structures.
SPPIRe will be organised on the
basis of an orbital model, with
central co-ordination being carried
out by the Scottish School of Primary
Care (part of NHS Education for
Scotland) and four regional nodes
collaborating between regional
primary care trusts and their
associated higher education
institutions. The four regional nodes
will be based in the West on
Glasgow, in the South East on
Edinburgh, in the East on Dundee
and in the North on Aberdeen.
It is intended that the four regional
nodes of SPPIRe will be incorporated
with the primary care trust that is
taking responsibility for research
governance, and will also maintain
close links with local university
departments. The four regional
nodes will have four main functions,
namely to contribute to a national
data base, to liaise with
professionals and practices in the
region, to maintain strong links with
local university departments, and to
act as a contact point for the
acceptance of projects requiring
regional recruitment.
Funding for these new proposals has
yet to be confirmed, as have the
interim arrangements for existing
D R Hannay, Director
Dumfries & Galloway Primary Care
Research Network
UKFPCRN Steering Committee
The Annual General Meeting
approved the nominations of three
new members: Caroline Gunnell,
Rhian Hughes and Brian McKinstry.
Daryl Goodwin, formerly of
STaRNet and Pali Hungin (NoReN)
came to the end of their terms and
Madge Vickers (MRC GPRF) has
resigned due to pressure of other
All three have played important
roles in developing and supporting
the Federation and we are truly
grateful for their contributions.
The Officers and Members of the
Steering Committee are listed.
If you have any suggestions or
issues to raise please contact one
(or all!) of them.
Sue Wilson (Chair)
Midlands PC-CRTU
[email protected]
David Hannay (Vice Chair)
Dumfries & Galloway PRCN
[email protected]
Rose Streeton (Treasurer)
PCRN for Northants
[email protected]
Fenny Green
RCGP Research Group
[email protected]
Caroline Gunnell
[email protected]
Beverley Hancock
Trent Focus
[email protected]
Rhian Hughes
North Staffordshire GP Research
[email protected]
Mike Kirby
[email protected]
Brian McKinstry
Lothian PCRN
[email protected]
Greg Rubin
[email protected]
Helen Smith
[email protected]
An Evaluation Toolbox for
Research Capacity Building
Those involved in primary care research networks have little doubt about the success of the network movement in
stimulating a R&D culture in primary care. However, securing continued funding may require more than conviction
and anecdotes of success. The Federation is committed to demonstrating the value and contribution of its members
to building research capacity in primary care and has commenced the development of an Evaluation Toolbox.
The Toolbox contains examples of how a wide range of research capacity building activities can be evaluated. It
uses a framework for users to review their activities in terms of cost, contribution towards building research
capacity and evaluation indicators. Proposed evaluation indicators include the traditional measures of output and
outcome and the capacity building features can be used to describe the added value of an activity in ways that
cannot be demonstrated by traditional measures. Defining the resources required to support an activity encourages
users to identify the true cost of an activity to consider whether it provides “value for money” and to reflect on if
and where resources should be reallocated. The table below provides an example.
Study days,
and seminars
Costs of delivering
the study session
(trainer, venue,
Organisation and
administration costs
Capacity Building Features
Evaluation Indicators
Increases research skills of
Number of attendees
at each session
Flexible and timely training
is provided based an needs
Range of professions
Increases understanding
and reduces risk of errors
or wasted time
evaluation data
Provided training locally,
increasing uptake and
reducing travelling time
and costs
Advertising - printing
and postage
The Federation intends to produce a first draft of the Toolbox for circulation in the Spring. Two things will be needed
to develop the Toolbox further. Firstly, members will be asked to contribute to the Toolbox by providing further
examples of activities that can be evaluated using the framework. Secondly, it is hoped that a number of
organisations will volunteer to pilot the application of the Toolbox.
Comments and suggestions are welcomed. Please contact the Federation Administrator.
Federation costs in the past have been met through membership subscriptions (approximately 25%) and support from
core funding. It was reported at last December’s Annual General Meeting that the only funding received in the
previous year was membership subscriptions and no decision had been made on additional funding for this year. The
Chair has written to the R&D offices in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland requesting a contribution to
funding, based on a population split, for the next three years.
Good news! Just before going to press we heard that the England funding proportion has been agreed by Professor
Cliff Bailey. We are still waiting to hear about the outcome of our applications to the rest of the UK but the funding
promised so far will be sufficient to ensure that the Federation continues in some form.
News from the Research
Interest Group
Twenty delegates attended the Research Interest
Group meeting at the Fielder Centre at Hatfield on
13th September. The presentations produced much
lively debate and a consensus was reached about
how to move the group forward and collaborate.
Professor David Brodie presented the work that is
currently underway at the Research Centre for
Health Studies, Buckinghamshire Chilterns
University College. Over the last twelve months
progress has been made both on physical and
human resources. A clinical exercise research
laboratory has been commissioned which includes
an electronic treadmill; full metabolic facilities and a
twelve lead ECG. Three fully funded PhD research
students have been appointed and are now working
in the area of motivational interviewing, breathing
dynamics and cardiac power output. Further two
research students will be appointed to be involved
in telemedicine applications in cardiology and
cardiovascular and repertory dynamics in exercise.
Three other colleagues from within the Faculty of
Health Studies are engaged in research topics with
application to cardiac rehabilitation. HertNet will be
collaborating with Professor Brodie on two projects
next year.
David Shaw who works at the same Centre
described a fascinating qualitative process-based
approach designed to explain apparent gender
differences in psychological adjustment to cardiac
disease. This is important work because in the UK
coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death
among women. It also causes an incalculable
amount of morbidity and suffering but despite this
women have been comprehensively neglected by
researchers and by the health care system, a subject
which has been discussed in the BMJ this year
HertNet presentations included a literature review
on the effect of sexual intercourse on the
cardiovascular system and the development of a
systematic approach treating erectile dysfunction in
the cardiovascular patient. The network also
presented the current status of the Hearts for Life
programme and Dr Karen Windle described the
planned evaluation.
Dr Rosie Savage from the Battersea Research Group
and the Department of Cardio logical Science at
St. George’s Hospital presented a project in early
development which is designed to evaluate the
value of clinically assured heart rate control and the
effect of ACE inhibitors in patients with permanent
atrial fibrillation in primary care.
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most sustained
arrhythmia seen in general practice, currently
effecting approximately 1.5% of the population. The
prevalence of AF ranges from about 1% in those
under 60 years to nearly10% in those over 80 years
and this number continues to grow rapidly due to
demographic changes. An average practice with
10,000 patients would have approximately 60
patients with permanent AF and therefore
collaboration will be the order of the day to achieve
suitable numbers of patients for this study. This
presentation stimulated much debate.
The afternoon session was chaired by Sally Kendal
and was entitled ‘Taking the work forward’. The
group was in agreement that the best way forward
would be to develop a web-based discussion group,
which would allow us to collaborate and share
ideas. HertNet agreed to set this in motion.
Interest Groups
Mental Health Research Interest Group
The Mental Health Research Interest
Group (MHRIG) met in London on
September 11th with a new Chair,
Irwin Nazareth from NoCTeN. The
meeting included presentations from
Scott Weich (NoCTeN), Amy Scammell
and Caroline Hagelskamp (Battersea
Research Group), Olwyn Johnstone
(WReN) and Margaret Maxwell
(Scottish School of Primary Care).
The second part of the meeting was
devoted to group work discussing the
future remit and direction of the
Group. Here is a summary of the
The general view was that the Group
should meet twice a year with one
meeting as part of the Annual
Conference. Day long meetings
should be scheduled at locations
around the UK.
There were lots of ideas and
suggestions about the remit of the
Group (no order of priority).
● The MHRIG should be a forum for
raising, discussing and
encouraging research ideas.
● The MHRIG should provide an
opportunity for researchers to
present work in progress as well as
completed research. It should be
an opportunity for trouble
shooting, especially valuable for
new researchers.
● It provides an opportunity for
networking and developing shared
● The MHRIG, by including
researchers working in
practice, provides an opportunity to
identify relevant and high priority
research questions.
● The resources in the Group could
be used for peer support and
mentorship (although there are
limitations on how much time
members can spend providing
● The Group might be involved in
arranging research skills training
that is particularly relevant to
mental health issues.
● Relationship with other groups.
We should find out about other
groups with a similar interest and
ensure that they know about us.
We should try to avoid overlap.
● The MHRIG should encourage links
across the interfaces
- between service development and
- with new organisational
structures e.g. PCTs should be
- with groups similar to the MHRIG,
to avoid overlap and to ensure that
the two groups know about each
● The Group should explore
consumer involvement.
● Mental health problems in different
cultural groups
● Depression
● Patient perception of care
● Implementation and evaluation of
new models of care
● Somatic problems
The Group did not raise any
“burning” research questions that we
could look at as a Group. However,
the following list represents the
interests of some of the Group
members who attended.
● Depressive disorders
● Lack of services for adolescents
● Accessibility by GPs to mental
health services
● Data collection, quality indicators
and the new GP contract
● Ethnicity and mental health
● Research into consultations
● The doctor-patient relationship
● Psychologists in primary care
● Service development and education
- evaluating initiatives
It was agreed that the Group feedback
should be shared with all MHRIG
members on the database with a
request that they in turn give
Themes suggested for future
meetings were (no order of priority):
● Behaviour change
● Primary care organization
● Addictions
Headache Research Interest Group
The Federation has been asked
to canvas interest in a
Headache Research Interest
Group. The Group will provide
an opportunity for researchers
to discuss their early research
ideas, current projects and
completed projects with
members of other research
networks. The group will aim
to develop, where appropriate,
collaborative research
initiatives, and encourages
researchers to conduct and
disseminate their research into
headache. The Group will be
chaired by Dr David Kernick
who is lead research GP in an
NHS Culyer supported general
practice, a member of SaNDNet
and a Council member of BASH
(British Association for the
Study of Headache). If you
would like to join the Group
please email:
[email protected]
A first meeting of this research
interest group was held during
the 5th Annual UKFPCRN
Conference held at the SECC,
Glasgow on 2nd December 2002.
The meeting was attended by
15 members interested in the
primary care input and effect on
cancer care research.
The meeting was opened with a
discussion group on the role and
scope of primary care cancer
related research. The
multidisciplinary audience offered
interest and examples of where
primary care could contribute to
the research in Cancer from prediagnosis to tertiary and palliative
This was followed by presentation
of the early findings of a study by
Moyez Jiwa (BACReN) on the
effect of referral letters on time to
diagnosis and prioritisation, The
GRAF study.
Dr David Weller, the Chairman of
the Group facilitated a discussion
on the future of the group. The
general consensus was that the
group was viable, important and
should continue. However, as it
was a relatively new forum, it
should be a “virtual” group until
the next formal meeting at next
year’s conference. In the
meantime, anyone with an
interest in joining this group
should contact the Federation
Administrator by e-mailing
[email protected]
National Cancer
Research Institute
(NCRI) Primary Care
Clinical Studies
Development Group
The first meeting of the PCCSDG was
held in London on 12th February. This
Clinical Studies Group has been
funded by the NCRI to lead the
development, in a co-ordinated way,
of primary care focussed cancer
Background: Many patients with
cancer first present to their GP.
Diagnosis of cancer in primary care is
a complex and difficult task. There is
currently considerable interest in
improving the diagnosis, screening
and referral practices in primary care.
Furthermore, primary care is involved
in all stages of the ‘cancer journey’
from the first time a patient reports a
symptom, through diagnosis,
treatment and cure or death.
The co-ordination of patient
interaction with the many different
elements of healthcare systems and
managing the significant co-morbidity
are roles that fall on primary care.
What does the PCCSDG offer cancer
and primary care research? It is
always easier to start with what it
does not offer - a ring-fenced source
of funding.
What it does have is:
● Access to the National Cancer
Research Network (NCRN)
● An opportunity to develop a small
number of ‘demonstration projects’
within the NCRN framework.
● The potential to interact more
effectively with other sectors of
cancer research, including
secondary care researchers, the
Clinical Trials Units, the site-specific
Clinical Studies Groups, the
national Translational Cancer
Research Network etc.
It is widely accepted that there is a
need to increase the volume of
primary care based cancer research
and the PCCSDG is being asked to
identify concrete proposals for new
primary care focussed research.
Who is on the PCCSDG? Clinical
Studies Development Group is chaired
by David Weller (University of
Edinburgh) and currently has about 20
members. The membership comprises
a variety of people who have an
interest in primary care focussed
cancer research and includes people
from Universities, networks, PCTs,
Department of Health, Trials Units and
secondary care.
What opportunities does this offer
networks? The focus of the PCCSDG
will be to develop and promote high
quality, multi-centre, primary care
focussed trials. Within the next 4
weeks or so, we will be trying to
identify a small number of potential
trials that can be worked up,
supported through the process of
securing funding and run with the
support of the NCRN infrastructure.
The ongoing role of the PCCSDG will
be to identify those high quality
studies that should be prioritised and
support them in the same manner. If
anyone has a potential cancer clinical
trial that they would like to submit to
the PCCSDG they can contact either
myself ([email protected]) or
David Weller ([email protected])
and we will ensure that this is
discussed at the next meeting of the
Clinical Development Group.
Madge Vickers, in her role as Director of the MRC GPRF, has been concerned
by reports of research time not being counted as eligible for pension
calculations. She has investigated this and writes:
Research nurses employed by hospital trusts have always been able to
access the NHS Pension Scheme as part of their terms of employment.
Practice nurses became eligible to access the NHS Pension Scheme with
effect from 1st September 1997. Initially the NHS Pensions Agency suggested
that only time spent on General Medical Services (GMS) would be eligible as
pensionable hours and questioned whether research could be regarded as
The MRC GPRF raised this matter with the DH who agreed that it had
implications for both GPs and nurses involved in primary care research and
needed to be resolved. Research Governance: notes for primary and
community care ( issued by the
department in July 2002 has addressed this issue within the section relating
to GP’s statutory terms of service and the PCT’s duty of care.
The guidance from the DH to PCTs is that research conducted in relation to a
patient registered with a GP occurs ‘under the general supervisory control of
the National Health Service’ and that services do not cease to be subject to
GMS regulations because ‘a GP arranges to deliver them through a research
sponsor, and in such a way that they are not fully provided and funded by the
NHS.’ It seems likely that as a result of this guidance that time spent on
research could now be considered to be pensionable.
SAPC Newsletter
The SAPC is inviting contributions to its newsletter. As a guide,
contributions should be limited to issues that are of relevance to the
SAPC readership such as:
● Research themes
● Teaching initiatives
● Successes to share
● Academic announcements
Space is especially tight and the following word limits should be
adhered to:
● ‘Larger’ organisations - 200 words
● ‘Smaller’ organisations - 100 words
The 32nd Annual Scientific
Meeting of the Society for
Academic Primary Care
(formerly AUDGP)
A multidisciplinary conference for
researchers and teachers in
primary care
16 - 18 July 2003 MICC,
Keynote presentations from AnnLouise Kinmonth, Cambridge and
John Skelton, Birmingham
Debate: “Managing health
should we be more trusting or do
more checking?” Aneez Esmail
and Kieran Walshe, Manchester
Abstract submissions are invited
for presentation in plenary,
parallel and poster sessions
Deadline for submission of
abstracts: 14 March 2003
Deadline for early bird
registration: 9 May 2003
Members and non-members
PGEA accreditation applied for
If there are issues that you would like to share, but need more words
then articles may be submitted but please contact the editor in
Please send copy to Val Roberts ([email protected]). Any queries
please contact:
Dr Richard Neal
University of Wales College of Medicine
01978 316267
[email protected]
For information please visit: and click on ASM
Manchester 2003
Or contact: Sue Stewart, SAPC
Tel: 01865 331839,
Fax: 01865 331125
Email: [email protected]
Previous copies of the newsletter are available at
Report of the Fifth Annual Conference
Research Networks Scottish Exhibition Centre -
The Fifth Annual Conference of the
UKFPCRN was attended by about 120
delegates representing all but two of
41 member organisations of the
federation in the UK. This year’s
conference was organised and
sponsored by the seven Scottish
The conference started with Research
Interest Groups meetings
(Cardiovascular Disease, Primary Care
Cancer and Mental Health) before an
introductory welcome by Professor
David Hannay (Dumfries & Galloway)
the Vice Chairman of the Federation.
Professor Graham Watt (Department
of General Practice in Glasgow)
delivered the first plenary talk on
‘Inequalities in Health’ with special
reference to the special problems of
the west of Scotland, emphasising
‘inverse care’ where those who
needed health services most had the
least resources. This was followed by
parallel sessions with workshops on
communicating with patients and
integrating research networks with
Primary Care Trusts. The themes of the
presentations were cardiovascular
disease, the development of
effectiveness tools and
advantage/disadvantage in primary
After time for poster viewing, Dr
Helen Smith, Co-Chair of the
International Federation of PCRNs
gave a talk on ‘The challenge of
networking primary care research
networks in an international context’.
This was followed by the Annual
General Meeting of the Federation
where the main concerns were
uncertainties about continued funding,
Health Service reorganisation, and the
pressures of research governance and
problems of indemnity for research
workers. New members of the
Steering Committee were approved
by the Meeting: Caroline Gunnell from
ELENoR, Rhian Hughes from the
North Staffordshire GP Research
Network and Bryan McKinstry from
the Lothian PCRN.
There was a lively dinner and ceilidh
at the Glasgow Moat House hotel in
the evening from which some
photographs featured next morning in
an excellent talk by Mike Kirby on
‘Highlights of the previous day’. This
was followed by Professor Laerum
from the University of Oslo talking
about the influence on healthcare
quality inter-disciplinary low back pain
guidelines in Norway. Then there were
parallel sessions with workshops on
‘Recruitment’ and ‘Complexity’ and
presentations on accessing care and
trials in primary care. There was also a
writers’ clinic by Tim Albert. Before
lunch there was another poster
display session and a talk about
Inequality and Poverty by Sir John
Arbuthnott who had headed the
Arbuthnott report on the re-allocation
of Health Service resources in
Scotland. After lunch there were more
parallel sessions with workshops on
domestic violence and heart disease
in Scotland, and papers on quality in
health care, mental health and
developing research capacities.
The final talk was by Dr. Sally Wyke,
Director of the Scottish School of
Primary Care outlining the vision of
the Scottish School and its
achievements over the past two years.
The conference was ended by
Professor David Hannay who
presented prizes to Dr Moyez Jiwa
from Sheffield and Dr Mark Gabby
and associates from Liverpool for the
best posters. Professor Hannay
ended by thanking Marie Pitkethly and
Margaret Feeney from TayRen in
Dundee, and Helen Chesser from the
Scottish School of Primary Care in
Edinburgh for organising a very
successful conference for which Denys
Hancock, Federation Administrator,
had helped with publicity.
David Hannay
Vice Chair
A network
co-ordinator’s view
Attending the UKFPCRN annual
conference is certainly a good way of
seeing different parts of Britain! I’d
never visited Glasgow and I have to
admit I’m a bit of a sucker for a ceilidh
so off Battersea Research Group flew
with 4 presentations and 3 posters in
First of all, the city did not disappoint
and in fact 2/5 BRG attendees returned
voicing a desire to move there. We
were oddly excited at being in the
‘armadillo’ bit of the SECC and a bit
disappointed to be in the shopping
mall-esque attachment but it proved
to be good enough for David Gray so
we didn’t really mind. In fact the
facilities were excellent.
of the UK Federation of Primary
Glasgow 2-3 December 2002 CentreR
As for the content of the conference
the theme this year was ‘quality and
inequality’ and in a way these two
concepts reflect my feelings on the
Firstly, relating to quality, I thought
that there was overall a high standard
of poster and oral presentations.
These ranged from ‘traditional’ style
academic studies such as Moyez
Jiwa’s study on telephone triage and
older persons, to examples of
implementation of new services such
as the Community Psychotherapy
Project from the Child and Adult
Mental Health Service at Bedfordshire
and Luton Community NHS trust, to
WReN’s poster on making research
governance a reality. Secondly, the
quality of the conference was also
displayed through the variety of work
included in the programme. Along
with old favourites such as an
international perspective and research
interest groups this year saw the
inclusion of a writers’ clinic by Tim
Albert and a workshop on complexity
theory by Chris Burton.
In terms of Inequality, I thought Ricky
Banarsee’s workshop on developing
strategies for PCRNs illustrated the
differences between all the networks
in terms of focus (building capacity,
undertaking research, or both),
funding/ support and expectation.
These differences can be seen as
inequalities and I think are to some
extent by some. Really it’s only by
working through these to develop
personal supportive relationships with
one another that we’ll be able to grow
as a Federation, support current
members and engage new primary
care professionals effectively.
Secondly, I feel that we would do well
to encourage more ‘new’ primary care
researchers to come to this meeting in
the future. The format, especially with
the Interest Groups and friendly
atmosphere, makes it more
encouraging and less threatening
than, for example, SAPC. This year I
felt as if a good deal of the delegates
were more established primary care
researchers or network leaders and I
think it would be good to try to
redress the balance.
Overall I would say that Glasgow
worked well in two ways - it
illustrated how primary care research
has come and it illustrated how far we
could go. Certainly BRG will be
making a renewed effort over the next
year to support colleagues from other
PCRNs and get involved in new and
more innovative areas of project
Thank you TayRen. Thank you
Glasgow. Where are we next year?
Amy Scammell
Battersea Research Group
From a
This was my first Primary Care
Network conference since joining
WReN a year ago as a Primary Care
Network Facilitator. I have come to
Primary Care from a background in
laboratory based medical research
and from research administration for
a major UK research funder. Having
helped PCTs to tackle the new
systems needed to be developed for
Research Governance, I focussed my
attention on conference workshops
and presentations based on this
theme and links between the
networks and PCTs.
The workshop from the RCGP on
Primary Care Research Team
Assessment (PCRTA) and PCT RM&Gs
was extremely informative and came
at just the right time for me as I plan
to make more people aware of the
PCRTA scheme during visits in the
New Year. It made me realise just how
tight the timings are for becoming
compliant with research best practice
and how it integrates into the
research governance framework.
Ricky Barnasee’s workshop on
devising strategies for primary care
research networks that integrate with
PCTs was illuminating, particularly in
the sense that we all appear to be
facing similar challenges in our work
at the current time. We had the
opportunity to share and reflect on
these during at the workshop, a
process which was particularly
WReN has been involved in a bid to
become part of a Biobank spoke and it
was highly instructive to attend
Wendy Marsden’s workshop on the
recruitment potential to Biobank UK.
It is clear that WReN will need to
engage a number of the ideas that
Wendy has used so effectively.
An area of primary care in which
WReN needs to become more
engaged with is podiatry and Wesley
Vernon and team’s presentation on
worker roles in foot care services
highlighted the lessons in research
capacity building that are needed for
this often overlooked subject.
The Trent Focus work of Gill Sarre also
provided me with many ideas of how
to engage with and support the PCTs
in my area. I am sure I will be using
many of the ideas put forward.
All in all I learnt a huge amount from
the conference which was just the
right size for making contacts and
exchanging ideas. The workshops and
talks were timely and have provided
me with a lot more helpful
information for my work.
Jenny Baverstock
First time
delegate’s view
As the new Project Officer for PCRTA
and a newcomer to Primary Care
research issues, I have been on a
steep learning curve for the last
couple of months. The UK Federation’s
Annual Conference at the beginning
of December allowed me to
demonstrate and put into practice
what I have learnt, increased my
knowledge of and interest in research
issues, and gave me the opportunity
to meet colleagues from the networks
and PCTs.
On the Monday morning we had a
workshop planned with Sara Shaw,
and although I had been assured that
the networks were ‘a good, friendly
bunch’, the nerves did not quite
subside. However, my anxieties soon
diminished in the informal and
approachable atmosphere that
seemed to dominate the conference. It
seemed odd to me at first that quite a
few people seemed already to know
who I was and what I did, but
everyone made me feel very
welcome. It was an excellent
opportunity to finally meet people
with whom I had frequently been
e-mailing about the scheme, as well
as to make new mutually beneficial
I found the conference agenda varied
and flexible, making it easy for people
to attend the talks and workshops that
suited their interests. I thought that
the conference was well organised
and the location was excellent. With
the conference centre next to the hotel
and within easy reach of Glasgow
airport, it was accessible, convenient
and very pleasant. I also much
appreciated the effort that had gone
into the evening dinner and ceilidh although I was frightened off by the
Scottish dancing!
However, what I liked most about the
conference was the fact that
discussion was always free flowing,
and it was stimulating being around
so many people who are clearly
incredibly passionate about research.
To sum up, my first experience of the
UKFPCRN Annual Conference was
very positive, and I look forward to
what next year’s Conference has in
Susie Braam
Research Project Officer, RCGP
Advance Notice
The 6th Annual Conference of the UKFPCRN will be held in
Birmingham on 24th - 25th November 2003.
The theme of the conference will be
A Celebration of Research Capacity Building
Abstracts for presentations (posters, papers and workshops)
must be received by July 31st.
Full details will be distributed shortly but please put this date in your diary!
For further information please email: [email protected]
Review: Safety Issues for Research in the
Community: a video training package
This video is a safety training tool,
produced by Southampton University
for health and social researchers
working in the community and
contains a list of “dos and don’ts”. It
is divided into four sections:
Assessing safety in the
Prevention strategies
Identifying and responding to risk
Follow-up actions.
The video was excellent, beginning
with the introduction “I think the
scariest interview I’ve ever had was...”
and ending with the final statement
“You should remember that
thankfully such events are extremely
uncommon. By being aware of the
risks and taking steps to keep risks to
a minimum and knowing how to
respond in the event of an incident,
you can help to ensure that such
events continue to be a rarity in the
Despite being slightly scary (the
music accentuated this), points were
made effectively with volunteers
reconstructing real-life situations as if
they had personally encountered
them. Common-sense tips such as
having a mobile-phone, a copy of
your timetable up on the whiteboard,
and agreed times of when you will
ring in and what happens if you don’t
were well-made.
A safety policy for home visits should
include standard operating
procedures that incorporate action
plans, incident reporting procedures
and review procedures. This video
forms a useful adjunct to the safety
We strongly recommend the video
for induction of all new staff who will
be undertaking home or community
visits. Furthermore, we found that the
video was also an ideal discussion
aid which has prompted us to discuss
and review our existing safety
The video, entitled “Safety Issues for
Research in the Community” lasts
twelve and a half minutes, and is
available from Julia Barry, Divisional
Administrator, Department of Primary
Medical Care, Aldermoor Health
Centre, Aldermoor Close,
Southampton SO16 5T, 020380 241
061, and costs £35.00 including VAT
and postage.
Elaine Kidney and Helen Walker,
Research Associates, Department of
Primary Care and General Practice,
The University of Birmingham.
If you would like to submit a review
of a book, video or training package
to NetConnect please email:
de[email protected]
North American
Primary Care
Research Group
Kurt Stange, President of NAPCRG visits the
Federation Stand
The 30th Annual Meeting of this group (NAPCRG) was held in New
Orleans in November. The theme was “Building Research Capacity”
and included a plenary from Paul Thomas, formerly Director of
WeLReN. Around 40 Brits attended the meeting and made a
significant contribution to the proceedings through poster
presentations, papers, workshops, a forum and a plenary session.
The Federation awarded bursaries towards the cost of attending to Jonathan Graffy (ELENoR) and Vicky
Hammersley (Trent Focus). There was a record number of applications for bursary awards and the standard was
extremely high. Jonathan presented two papers: one about a RCT of the effectiveness of support from volunteer
breastfeeding counsellors and the other on the role of the practice manager in primary care research. Vicky, with
colleagues from the Trent Focus, facilitated a forum on how networks provide an integrated approach to research
capacity building. The next issue of NetConnect will include reports from Jonathan and Vicky.
The 2003 NAPCRG meeting will take place in Banff (Canada), October 25-28, and the closing date for abstracts is
April 23, 2003. See for more information.
Network Tour
The Federation recently welcomed two more networks into the membership, Mersey Primary Care
R&D Consortium and the North Staffordshire GP Research Network.
Primary Care
The Mersey Primary Care R&D
Consortium (“the Consortium” came
into existence in April 1999 following
a successful application for funding
from Budget 1 of the NHS R&D Levy.
The Consortium has been created to
generate high quality R&D activity,
relevant to the needs of primary care.
Our objectives are as follows:
● Increase external funding
● Develop research capacity
within primary care on a
multi- disciplinary basis
● Expand consumer involvement
● Encourage appropriate and
relevant dissemination
● Increase partnerships and
The creation of a consortium
specifically for R&D signals the
central importance of this activity for
the teams within it and offers
Merseyside an exemplar of the
enormous future potential for
primary care-led R&D. This
organisation allows us to share and
utilise the knowledge, skills and
experience of a large group of health
care professionals including 39
general practitioners and over 40
nurses of whom a significant
proportion have experience in R&D
related activity. Secondly, it provides
us with a much bigger population for
study than is possible on the basis of
an individual practice.
The Consortium has access to a
population of some 70,000 people
across a geographical area stretching
from Southport, through Bootle and
Liverpool to South Cheshire, with
socio-economic backgrounds ranging
from deprived inner city areas to
affluent rural communities. These
benefits mean that we will engage in
R&D of greater intrinsic value than if
acting separately.
Gabrielle Marr
R&D Coordinator
University of Liverpool
Department of Primary Care
Whelan Building
Brownlow Hill
Liverpool L69 3GB
0151 794 4552
0151 794 5604
Email: [email protected]
Head of Network
Professor Chris Dowrick
Staffordshire GP
The Network includes a core of 16
general practices in North
Staffordshire committed to
continuous computerised morbidity
recording, to support a primary care
research programme in partnership
with Primary Care Sciences at Keele
University. Our research interests
centre on consultation for common
symptoms in primary care,
particularly musculoskeletal pain.
The Network hosts a large
programme of research including
trials funded by ARC, a large
programme from the MRC supports
ongoing work on optimal
management of osteoarthritis in
primary care, and a number of other
projects are supported by Wellcome
and NHS(E) grants.
Two groups within the Network have
formed Consortia to host Budget 1
NHS R&D funding and they are
respectively the second and third
largest primary care consortia
(second to MidRec). The Network
supports a number of PhD/MD
research fellowships for GPs as well
as physiotherapists and occupational
Rhian Hughes
Research Manager
North Staffordshire GP Research
Primary Care Sciences Centre
Keele University
Hornbeam Building
Staffordshire ST5 5BG
Telephone: 01782 583918
E-mail: [email protected]
Head of Network
Professor Peter Croft
Next issue of NetConnect is June 20 03
Please send articles for inclusion to [email protected]
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