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CRN Greater Manchester Core Team Blog Series: Engagement in Primary Care

Primary care includes GP practices, pharmacies, dental surgeries, and community ophthalmologists, and therefore provides numerous opportunities for research to take place in a location that is convenient and accessible for local people. Furthermore, the diversity of patients within primary care, including people living with multiple long term conditions, means that there is real potential for research to make a huge difference to the health and care of the people who need it the most. Whilst there are research studies being delivered in primary care in Greater Manchester at the moment, and some great examples of GPs who have built up a portfolio of studies and increased their research capacity and capability, more can be done!!  

At the start of this financial year the delivery team at the network decided to take a more active role in primary care research, particularly in relation to engaging with primary care colleagues and promoting research and research studies. We started off by gathering some intelligence and identifying GP practices and primary care networks (PCNs) that had experience of research, and those that were new to research, so that we could tailor our approach to engagement. Fortunately, we recruited a Primary Care Research Support Facilitator called Ewa who started just in time to support us with all this engagement - there are over 430 GP practices in Greater Manchester so it’s no mean feat! 

Our engagement activity includes things like emailing GP practices directly to offer them opportunities, sending newsletters, posting information on the Greater Manchester Primary Care Provider Board website, producing podcasts focusing on primary care research, presenting at primary care development days, holding stalls at relevant events, and attending Patient Participation Groups within practices. We are starting to have an impact as we now have over 40 GP practices that have taken part in research this year so far that were previously new to research, which is incredible!  We’re aware that we need to identify more opportunities for pharmacies, dentists and opticians to deliver research and are actively looking out for relevant studies for them.  

There are some really exciting studies happening in primary care right now. For example, we are currently working on a study whereby patients being prescribed a new medication can have a genetic test done which will inform the GP whether or not that medicine is right for them based on their DNA - this is personalised medicine and has the potential to transform patient care! We’re also soon going to be working on a study that is specifically for South Asian people, they will receive a full health check including ECG and retinal photography, and all the information gathered will contribute to us understanding more about why South Asians have poorer health outcomes; so we’ll be asking our local primary care providers to refer eligible patients to us.

Next time you’re at your GP practice or dental surgery, why don’t you ask them if they are taking part in any research?  If they are, it might be relevant to you or a family member, and if they’re not, asking them might make them consider getting involved in the future.  

If anyone would like to know more about getting involved in primary care research, please contact 

CRN Greater Manchester Delivery Team 

November 2023

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.