Primary Care and Population Sciences, Research – Specialised Foundation Programme

Employing Trust: University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
Department: Primary Care and Population Sciences
Commencement Dates: August, December, or April
Educational Supervisor: Professor Tony Kendrick

Clinical Supervisor: To be assigned (if a training practice is allocated)
Administrative Contact: Gerry Cole
Tel: 02380 591759

Main Educational Opportunities:

Academic trainees will meet with their academic supervisor during their F1 year to discuss the specialties and research opportunities available to them and will select a project topic area in which to conduct their academic training.

  • Carrying out a review of the literature in a chosen topic. Analysing research data if available
  • Presenting a research protocol to the AF2 group and academic supervisors
  • Attending team meetings on current research projects in PMC, and getting involved in a range of projects if possible and appropriate
  • Attending Primary Care and Population Sciences research seminars
  • Contributing to undergraduate medical student teaching in General Practice, if possible and appropriate
  • Clinical General Practice (optional) in a research active practice, within easy reach of the PMC (Primary Medical Care) Group in Southampton

Formal Teaching Programmes:

Generic research skills training provided by the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, at Southampton General Hospital (10 half day sessions). This course will enable AF2 trainees:

  • To gain an overview of the scope of clinical research
  • To learn about research methods and their appropriate application
  • To learn about sources of knowledge and knowledge management
  • To learn how to form research questions
  • To learn how to critically appraise research
  • To master elementary statistics and understand their application to research
  • To understand the sources of funding for research and financial management of research
  • To understand the ethics of research , consent and confidentiality
  • To understand how research is regulated and governed

Between sessions participants will be expected to develop their own research projects involving the:

  • Generation of research questions
  • Design of research protocols
  • Financial aspects of research
  • Navigation through ethics and the regulation of research

Academic competencies:

Formative assessment at the end of the course will test competency in:

  • Literature reviewing and critical appraisal
  • Research study design and planning
  • Data interpretation and presentation of results

Clinical competencies:
These will be selected from among those identified for the F2 year, which are achievable in General Practice. If they have been achieved during other Foundation placements the clinical general practice component of this post will be optional.

Timetable (subject to change by agreement with Practice)

a.m.Clinical work in General Practice (optional)Research activities with Primary Care GroupClinical work in General Practice (optional)Clinical work in General Practice (optional)Research activities with Primary Care Group
p.m.Clinical work in General Practice (optional)Research activities with Primary Care GroupClinical work (optional)/ Foundation Programme TrainingClinical work (optional)/ Research Methods CourseResearch activities with Primary Care Group

Out of Hours / On Call: Hours Worked

Work Pattern: Out of hours work is not funded for F2 placements in General Practice. To allow the trainee to maintain their income and experience however, arrangements could be made for the trainee to conduct out of hours work in a relevant acute discipline (this would best be aligned with one of the other two posts the trainee will do as part of their F2 year).

The Primary Care Research Centre (PCRC) is part of the school of Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education in the Faculty of Medicine (Head of School Professor Nick Francis). PCRC researchers collaborate closely with Professor Yardley’s Health Psychology group within the School of Psychology and have had significant success in obtaining NHS R&D HTA, NIHR Programme, and MRC project grant funding.

The PCRC has a strong track record in academic training and there would be ample opportunities for a successful AF2 trainee to go on to compete for an academic clinical fellowship (ACF) during vocational training. The PCRC has been hosting academic Vocational Training Scheme extensions funded by the Wessex Deanery since the early 1990s. The academic GPRs have undertaken Masters level training in Southampton or elsewhere when appropriate. Where possible, they have gone on to complete an MSc by dissertation.

Strengths of the programme including research track record and markers of esteem:

The Primary Care Research Centre has 9 professors, 5 associate professors, 3 clinical lecturers, 3 clinical research fellows,20 post-docs, 8 doctoral students, and 32 research staff. We have particular strengths in:

  • Acute infections
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Mental health problems
  • Complementary medicine
  • Cancer early diagnosis and survivorship

We have been a member of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research since 2009 as one of the top performing primary care departments in the country. In the research excellence framework (REF 2021) more than 90% of our research was rated as internationally excellent or world-leading, and we ranked top nationally for quality of outputs in our unit of assessment. In the period 2014-2018 we produced 876 publications, of which 23.7% were in the top 10th centile for citations in SCOPUS on, with a field-weighted citation index of 2.16 per paper (mean for field is 1.0), and on which 37.4% had international collaborators as co-authors.

Our annual research income rose from £2.8M in 2013-14 to £4.8M in 2019-20. Total research income over the seven year period was £24.3M (compared to £9.0M for REF2014 over five years), including £21.4M won in open competition from the NIHR and £1.1M from UK research councils. Of 500 grant applications, 187 (37.4%) were successful. Recent major grants include:

NIHR programme grants:

  • ECO on eczema management (£2.7M);
  • ACO on acne management (£1.9m)
  • REDUCE on antidepressant reduction (£2.4M);
  • RECON on cognitive decline (£2.3M);
  • STREAM on malnutrition (£2.2M);
  • RECUR on recurrent RTIs (£2M).
  • AIM on multimorbidity using big data (£2M)
  • DEFINE Feno guided Asthma management (£2.6M)
  • DISCA on sleep support for children with ADHD (£2.4M)
  • MELD-B on multimorbidity (£XM)

9 NIHR Health Technology Assessment trials:

  • COAT for cellulitis (£1.48m)
  • PROMDEP for assessing depression (£1.6M);
  • ATLANTIS on amitriptyline for IBS (£1.7M);
  • SupportBack2 on back pain (£1.2M). 


NIHR HSDR – Phased In Antimicrobial Stewardship (£1M)


TIP – communication skills training (£1M)

There is active use of large databases including CPRD, SAIL, Q-Research, Care and Health Information Exchange Analytics (CHIA) and there is strong methodological input in medical statistics, health economics and qualitative methods.

We have 9 potential GP academic supervisors:
Prof Paul Little (RCGP John Fry awardee, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, NIHR Senior Investigator and previously Director of the NIHR Programme Grants Board) who works on acute infections, cancer survivorship and dementia; Prof Hazel Everitt (RCGP John Fry awardee, previously NIHR CL and MRC Doctoral Fellow) who works in insomnia and empathy in GP consultations; Prof Nick Francis works on antimicrobial stewardship, particularly in respiratory infections; Prof. Miriam Santer who works on primary care dermatology; Prof Kay Wang who works on asthma management and acute respiratory tract infections. Associate professor Hajira Dambha-Miller who leads the cross-faculty Data Science Research group. Clinical Lecturer (CL) Mark Lown who is working on atrial fibrillation and acute infections; CL Merlin Willcox who is developing global health initiatives in Uganda, and China; and CL Sara McKelvie who is working on community-based alternatives to hospitalisation for older people with complex health and social needs.

Research programmes:

Our research strategy focuses on five main themes – supporting self-management, improving use of medicines, diagnosis and prognosis, healthcare communication and data science – and four cross-cutting content areas – long-term conditions, infections and antibiotics, healthy ageing, and integrated healthcare. We currently have major funded programmes of research on trials of on-line support to preventing dementia, help stopping long-term antidepressant use; protecting elderly people who are not eating enough from infection; and supporting self-management in asthma and COPD; grants in acute infections and antimicrobial resistance; and programmes in cancer diagnosis and survivorship. We are developing programmes on infections, chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions.

Doctoral and post-doctoral researchers
We currently have 15 PhD/MD students registered in the Faculty, and 20 students jointly supervised but registered with other groups (mainly Health Psychology and Health Sciences), arising from our extensive collaborations. We currently 17 post-docs who meet regularly in an active early researchers self-help group (PPM Connect).