SPCR Launch Event – Sandy Park, June 2022

On 22nd June, the Exeter Academic Collaboration for Primary Care (APEx), along with representation from the University of Exeter, key stakeholders from NIHR's School for Primary Care Research (SPCR), NHS Devon, and the public, were invited to an event at Sandy Park Conference Centre in Exeter, Devon.

The event formally launched APEx's membership of the SPCR, a prestigious membership awarded to nine higher education Primary Care departments across the UK, demonstrated research already undertaken as a result of joining the school, and future ambitions for primary care research in the South West.


Keynote speakers included a range of talks from members of the APEx community and beyond:

Prof Lisa Roberts, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Exeter 

Prof Richard Smith, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Strategy & Resources), Professor of Health Economics, University of Exeter 

Prof Christian Mallen, Director, SPCR, Keele University, (pre-record) 

Georgina Fletcher, Assistant Director, SPCR

Mr Nigel Acheson, Chief Medical Officer, Integrated Care System for Devon (ICSD) 

Prof Willie Hamilton, Professor of Primary Care Diagnostics 

Prof Stuart Logan, Director of the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula (PenARC

Prof G.J. Melendez Torres, Professor of Clinical and Social Epidemiology 

Talks were also delivered on the 5 major themes of APEx's research:

Ageing, Frailty, Multimorbidity - introduced by Sallie Lamb  

Primary Care focused HSR - Introduced by John Campbell 

Mental Health - Introduced by Barney Dunn  

Primary Care Diagnostics - Introduced by Willie Hamilton

Public and Patient Involvement - Introduced by Annette Gillett and Phil Ruthen (Primary Care PPIE Working Group members)

Dr Emma Pitchforth introduced Dr Sinead Mcdonagh and Dr Sarah Moore who have been awarded NIHR SPCR Fellowships.


We thank everyone who attended and made this an inspiring and unforgettable event.

We're looking forward to the inevitable expansion of Primary Care research in the South West as a result of SPCR membership.

Welcome – Professor Andrew Eynon-Lewis

Andrew Eynon-Lewis has recently been recognised as Honorary Clinical Professor in General Practice and Primary Care. Andrew is Primary Care Dean within Health Education England (South West), and a supporter of many of our educational activities and of APEx colleagues. Andrew’s recognition is thoroughly well deserved, and we look forward to his continuing advice, support, and guidance in respect of APEx activities.


Some words from Andrew:

“I am absolutely delighted to have been offered the opportunity to be associated with the department of General Practice and Primary Care in the University of Exeter, and I look forward to working with my colleagues.

Promoting, supporting, and broadening access to primary care research through education and training is something I think is very important. The need to develop thought/research leaders – a primary care workforce equipped to understand the activities of patient care drawing on a research footing, and, where this isn’t evident, have the skills and confidence to create questions and test these out – is needed now as much as in the early days of general practice when one of my predecessors in Dartmouth, Dr RMS McConaghey, became the first editor of the college journal. 

One of the differences now is the need to reach out to the wider primary care workforce and not limit research/academic learning opportunities to those with a medical degree. That is why I am working with colleagues in Exeter to include Professor Alex Harding, who has recently launched a new module on the ‘Principles of Primary Care‘. This module has already secured uptake from GPs and GP Practice Nurses. I am also collaborating with other like-minded colleagues and their organisations to broaden research and learning opportunities for all of the current and future wider primary care health care teams to enrich professional lives and support workforce retention. 

From the welcome I have received over the last couple of weeks, I sense I am being embraced within the Exeter Primary Care Academic community, which ‘feels good’ and I look forward to meeting with you all when COVID-19 permits.”


Professor John Campbell said: “We’re delighted to welcome Andrew. Resourcing and ensuring high-quality capacity within the primary care workforce are key considerations for the NHS. Andrew and his colleagues at Health Education England have these considerations as their major concern – supporting both the delivery of innovative clinical service and supporting Higher Education Institutions in their primary care-focused academic activities. Andrew will provide new perspectives and fresh challenges to our APEx activities and we welcome his input and support to our research and education missions”.