Opening opportunities for GP trainees and allied health professionals to get into research: the PACT ‘Why test?’ study

 

 

by Dr Jessica Watson, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in General Practice, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Have you ever found yourself looking at blood test results and wondered why the test was done in the first place?

Why Test? – It seems like a simple question. Yet despite increasing access to research databases such as Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), which contain millions of test results, there is no easy way to find out why these tests are being performed in the first place. How many are for monitoring, screening or diagnosis? Which symptoms trigger testing? To explore this, we are launching the Why Test study using the Primary Care Academic CollaboraTive (PACT).

Currently, only a tiny proportion of primary care clinicians have a formal academic contract with a University. PACT aims to open up opportunities for non-academic primary care clinicians to get … Read more

Twists, turns and persistence: my path from nursing to research

by Dr Cindy Mann, Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Cindy Mann, a former nurse and now Research Fellow at the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol, shares the twists and turns in her career, and encourages nurse colleagues to consider research as a future path and not be put off by setbacks.

A long and varied career

I have had a long career, starting in 1975, when I did my nurse training at Leeds General Infirmary. In 1977 I got married and after completing training followed my husband to Oxford where I took a job as a staff nurse at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. I then decided to do a Philosophy degree in Oxford, and really enjoyed the peace and quiet of working in a library, in contrast to ongoing shifts for the nurse bank. In the following years, up … Read more

Curiosity and imagination: building blocks on my path to research

 

 

by Alastair Hay, Professor of Primary Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

I became a GP in 1997 and was appointed professor of primary care at the University of Bristol in 2013.

As a child, I was an avid Lego® player and reader of ‘how things work’ books. I was state-educated and did not enjoy school until my ‘A’ levels. I enjoyed the conceptual challenge of mathematics and, in 1985, was offered a place at Birmingham University to study maths and psychology. My results were better than I expected, so I withdrew and applied for medicine, securing a place at Sheffield.

I was initially disappointed by the course because of the lack of conceptual challenges. I was expected just to absorb lots of knowledge. Later, as I took responsibility for patient care, the application of knowledge became the interest. I did not intercalate … Read more

Point-of-care tests to inform antibiotic prescribing

 

 

by Alastair Hay, Professor of Primary Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

This article was first published in the BMJ.

The tests have potential but more evidence is needed. 

Given the global concerns(1) about antibiotic resistance, antimicrobial stewardship is essential to preserve the future effectiveness(2) of antibiotics. Healthcare practitioners must balance public and patient health, ensuring that only patients who need antibiotics receive them, and that they receive an antibiotic to which their infection is susceptible, at the optimum time, dose, and duration. Whether to prescribe an antibiotic is a key issue for clinicians treating respiratory infections in the community.

Point-of-care tests provide results in time to inform treatment. For respiratory infections, the tests can identify the presence of a microbe(3-5) or measure markers of a host’s response to a microbe, such as C reactive protein or procalcitonin, in finger prick quantities … Read more

The aim of general practice: can it be explained in one sentence?

 

 

by Professor Alastair Hay, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

This article was first published in the British Journal of General Practice.

As a teacher and researcher, I have learned that, unless my aim is clear, I will confuse myself, my students, my clinical colleagues, and my co-investigators. And yet, as a GP I often wonder, ‘Can I summarise my objective?’

The June edition of the UK’s British Journal of General Practice included articles describing an existential crisis in primary care (asking ‘What is the essence of general practice?’), a novel study describing some of the most complex work undertaken by GPs (largely invisible to most people most of the time), and other articles asking how we should deliver care post-COVID. However, the common thread for me was: ‘What is our aim?’

And why is it important to be able to explain our … Read more

Conference reflections from a basement

 

 

by Dr Rupert Payne, Consultant Senior Lecturer in Primary Health Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Dr Rupert Payne reflects on the highlights of the two-day Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) Annual Scientific Meeting, which was held virtually this year from 30 June to 1 July. This blog was first published on the SAPC website.

Another year, another conference! The last time I attended a SAPC conference was the regional South-West one that we hosted in Bristol – about a week before the first lockdown kicked in, and normality abruptly ended. Indeed, I suspect it was actually the last big face-to-face meeting many of us attended. This time, Leeds beckoned. But rather than jumping on the train to the “grim north”, I descended the stairs to my rather grimmer basement (yes, my wife has kicked me out the dining room), for … Read more

Is there value in GPs diagnosing an anxiety disorder?

 

 

 

by Charlotte Archer, Senior Research Associate in Primary Care Mental Health, and Katrina Turner, Professor of Primary Care Research, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Research has shown that fewer people in primary care are now being diagnosed with anxiety than in the past, despite reports that rates of anxiety have increased in the general population. Individuals with anxiety may be reluctant to seek help for their symptoms. They may also find it difficult to talk to their GP about their mental health or may normalise their symptoms.

Although most anxiety is managed in primary care by GPs, we know very little about whether GPs and patients think it is important to diagnose and manage anxiety disorders. Knowing this might help us identify possible reasons for the decline in their recording, and the potential impact of this on patient care and … Read more

Extending the IRIS domestic violence model to other patient groups

 

 

by Dr Eszter Szilassy, Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Primary care plays a key role in responding to patients experiencing or perpetrating domestic violence and abuse regardless of their gender, age, sexuality, or experience. There is, however, uncertainty about the value and effectiveness of integrated training and support programmes addressing the needs of all patients affected by domestic abuse.

IRIS (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) is a broadly commissioned, evidence-based primary care training and support programme designed to reach female survivors of domestic violence and abuse through general practice. The IRIS+ (Enhanced Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) study tested the feasibility of an adaptation of IRIS for all patients affected by domestic abuse, including men and children.

Reaching everyone in general practice?

Challenges to applying the IRIS domestic violence model to other patient groups have been highlighted by the … Read more

Should we be concerned about declining continuity of primary care?

 

 

 

by Peter Tammes, Mairead Murphy and Chris Salisbury, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Decreasing trend of continuity of care

Seeing the same GP over time is highly valued by most patients and GPs in the UK. This is known as ‘continuity of care’ and it is linked with lower healthcare costs, more satisfied patients, fewer emergency hospital admissions and even with reduced mortality.

Given these multiple benefits, one would expect it to be highly prioritised. However, our recently published study in the British Journal of General Practice shows that continuity of care declined steadily between 2012 and 2017. On average, the percentage of patients who reported to have a preferred GP declined by nine percentage points and the percentage who can usually see their preferred GP declined by 10 percentage points.

Is decreasing continuity of care a concern?

Decreasing continuity is … Read more

Destabilising primary health care: digitalised remote consulting and post-COVID-19 patient care

 

 

by Sophie Park, Professor of Primary Care and Medical Education, Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, Yathavan Premadasan, BSc Medical Student, University College London and Chris Salisbury, Professor of Primary Health Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed primary care dramatically, with most consultations conducted remotely by telephone, video or online messaging. But is this a short-term adjustment or the future norm? In general practice, clinical care has been based on long term face-to-face contact, establishing trusting relationships through continuity of care, and using knowledge of patients’ personal circumstances and social context to provide holistic support. Now, these fundamental principles are challenged.

Matt Hancock (UK Health Secretary) has welcomed rapid changes towards digitalised clinical practice as an overdue development, stating that wherever possible, all future consultations should be conducted remotely. But is the … Read more