The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high quality research taking place in health and care settings across England, advancing knowledge and improving care.
NIHR Clinical Research Network
The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) includes 30 specialty groups, who coordinate and support the delivery of high quality research by therapy area. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or universities, and the life sciences industry.
The CRN provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen. It supports the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings through our Study Support Service, with tailored offers of support for:
Supporting primary care research
The CRN Primary Care Specialty Group works with researchers and primary care practitioners such as GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists and dentists to promote the successful delivery of research studies in the NHS. We support a wide range of research, including studies that look at:
- Promoting a healthier lifestyle
- Disease diagnosis and prevention
- Management of long-term illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension
- Prevention of future ill-health
- Treating common conditions such as tonsillitis or influenza
Where there are considerable overlaps with other specialty areas, for example diabetes, mental health and cardiovascular disease, we work closely with our colleagues from across the CRN to deliver high quality research in a primary care setting.
The Primary Care Specialty has a proven track record of successful recruitment across all manner of conditions and complex interventions. In 2019/20, over 150,000 participants were recruited into 430 studies, with 97 per cent of studies recruiting to time and target.
One of the major issues facing primary care professionals engaging with research was, until recently, the lack of clarity around indemnity for medical negligence in undertaking research. This is now provided by CNSGP within the remit of NHS Resolution, you can find out more on their website.
Who we are
As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together highly engaged NHS consultants and clinical academics from top UK universities, bringing both clinical and academic expertise to your research. Our experts in the CRN Specialty Group can advise on delivering your infection study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions.
Professor Philip Evans is the CRN National Specialty Lead for primary care. Read Associate Professor Evans’s full biography.
Professor Philip Evans is supported by local specialty leads in each of the 15 NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks.
Our collaborators and stakeholders
The Clinical Research Network (CRN) Primary Care specialty has developed close links with key stakeholders and clinical researchers to input into the delivery of studies and influence the primary care research agenda.
We have established a longstanding partnership with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and support them on a number of initiatives, such as:
- The RCGP Awards which recognise outstanding contributions of NHS general practices and First5® GPs who are active in research.
- Research Ready® for general practices, relaunched in 2021, was developed by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Clinical Research Network to support practices to carry out high quality research. This quality framework helps practices to develop a research culture and ethos.
Working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the NIHR have developed Research Ready® for pharmacies to support pharmacies to carry out high quality research. This quality framework helps pharmacies to develop a research culture and ethos.
Clinical Practice Research Datalink
The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) provides access to high quality, anonymised primary care data for retrospective and prospective research studies, such as outcomes research, epidemiology and randomised controlled trials.
The primary care data are linked to a range of other health related data to provide a longitudinal, representative UK population health dataset.
CPRD data and services can be highly tailored to meet specific research needs.
Our funding programmes fund high quality research in primary care that benefits the NHS, public health and social care. We also provide career development funding awards for primary care researchers - see the careers tab for more information.
Our funding programmes
Most of our funding programmes run funding calls open to research proposals on any topic (researcher-led calls), including research proposals in primary care.
We have previously held a themed call on primary care interventions (2013). NIHR themed calls are funding opportunities focusing on a particular research topic, in which all our funding programmes participate.
Have an idea for research in primary care? The NIHR Research Design Service can help you turn it into a funding application, offering advice on research design, research methods, identifying funding sources, and involving patients and the public.
Our portfolio of primary care research
You can search and view all the primary care research we’ve funded on NIHR Funding and Awards.
In addition, a number of our research programmes publish comprehensive accounts of our primary care research in the NIHR Journals Library.
Our research schools
The NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) is a partnership between nine leading academic centres for primary care research in England.
SPCR aims to increase the evidence base for primary care practice through high quality research and strategic leadership, and to build capacity in primary care with a well established training programme.
The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in primary care to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.
Our investment in people sustains excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and provides high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure.
Funding research careers
The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development.
There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different career stages, from pre-doctoral through to Research Professorships. These awards comprise both personal awards, which can be applied for directly with the NIHR, and institutional awards which should be applied for through the host institution.
Supporting the delivery workforce
Associate Principal Investigator Scheme for PRINCIPLE Study
The Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme aims to develop junior doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to become the PIs of the future and provides formal recognition of a trainee's engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies.
The NIHR Associate Principal Investigator (API) scheme in primary care, linked to the PRINCIPLE platform study of COVID-19 treatment in the community, was launched on 19 May 2021. It is designed to encourage doctors and other health professionals in a general practice site to recruit into the study and gain NIHR accreditation and experience of research in practice.
Find out more about the API Scheme for PRINCIPLE
The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the world-class NIHR infrastructure.
This national research infrastructure is available to use by UKRI, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as NIHR researchers.
NIHR Applied Research Collaborations
NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems.
The following ARC undertakes research in primary care:
NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives
NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests.
The following MIC undertakes research in primary care:
NIHR Clinical Research Network
The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings. Find out more on the delivery tab.
The NIHR funds and supports world-class experts in primary care.
In addition, our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can advise on delivering your primary care study in the NHS or in other health and social care settings.
National Specialty Lead
Associate Professor Philip Evans is the CRN National Specialty Lead for Primary Care. He is an academic GP and Associate Professor in the University of Exeter Medical School. He has a research interest in continuity of care, management of pre-diabetes and also the prevention and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in primary care.
Director of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research
Professor Christian Mallen is the National Director of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. He is the Head of the School of Medicine at Keele University, and an NIHR Research Professor in General Practice.
We engage with and involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research in primary care.
Have your say in research
We involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in our national research funding and support activities, including in primary care research.
The researchers we fund also involve patients in planning and delivering their primary care research.
Our Local Clinical Research Networks involve people in primary care research taking place in your local area.
Involvement opportunities across the NIHR
The NIHR Community Healthcare MedTech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operative works with members of the public across all of its themes and at all levels, helping to ensure that their research is grounded in issues that matter to patients and society.
The NIHR School for Primary Care Research, which aims to gather evidence to help decide what will make primary care better for everyone, is committed to meaningful patient and public involvement and public engagement.
Take part in research
Be Part of Research is an online service that lists opportunities to take part in primary care research across the UK.