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Bringing research to the heart of the community through primary care

Oaklands Health Centre Research Success

More local people than ever before are being given the opportunity to get involved in health and care research in primary care across Yorkshire and Humber with a record 24,635 participants signed up to take part in the 65 primary care studies open across the region in 2023-24. 

And with almost three quarters (74%) of GP practices across the region now taking part in research, NIHR Clinical Research Network Yorkshire and Humber (CRN Y&H) is leading the way in supporting research in primary care.  

One of the GPs at the forefront of this success is Dr Sarah Alderson, who is lead GP for research at Oaklands Health Centre in Huddersfield and Associate Professor of Primary Care at the University of Leeds.

Having been involved in research since being a GP registrar, Dr Alderson is passionate about the benefits research can bring:

“It’s a good thing to be involved in. We’re advancing healthcare together.”

Whilst Oaklands Health Centre wasn’t active in research when Dr Alderson joined late in 2019, it has since gone from strength to strength. Dr Alderson had the support of the GP partner and practice manager from the start and now it’s a real team effort. It is, she says, one of the keys to their success in taking part and recruiting to studies.

“The whole practice is supportive. We have been through the GCP and Research Ready training.  Now, thanks to CRN Yorkshire and  Humber, we’ve been able to secure dedicated time and staff to support the research.”

Dr Alderson is open about how challenging it can be to find the time to deliver research in a busy primary care setting.

“It is a real challenge but having dedicated time; starting with small studies that are feasible to support; and getting onto mailing lists to find the expressions of interest all make it more manageable,” says Dr Alderson. 

“Getting to know your CRN does make a difference. It can be a real advantage in terms of the support you can access as well as speaking to other practices who are already research active.”

At Oaklands Health Centre, there are clear signs that research is now at the heart of the service they provide. An up-to-date noticeboard has photos and information about the research team as well as details of the opportunities currently open to patients. 

Together, Dr Alderson and the team at Oaklands Health Centre have recruited more than 1,000 patients this year to the research studies they are helping to deliver and they show no signs of slowing down. 

“We’ve had really good feedback from patients and from the studies we are recruiting for,” reflects Dr Alderson.

“Now, if it’s anything research related it comes to me and if I see a patient they often say, ‘I did a study for you.’ They like to tell me that.” 

To find out more about delivering research in primary care in Yorkshire and Humber, visit the Agile Research Team’s website: