Newly qualified South West GPs lead the way by offering Covid-19 research opportunities to their patients thanks to new GP training

Research is being placed at the heart of GP training in the South West giving four recently qualified GPs and one GP who is still in training the opportunity to offer the Covid-19 research to their patients.


The PRINCIPLE Trial is a nationwide study into Covid-19 which is being delivered in the community. The study aims to enable researchers to rapidly evaluate different treatments of Covid-19 symptoms in older people and hopefully improve outcomes.


Of the 36 number of GP practices that are offering this study to patients, five are being led by GPs who are newly qualified and who have shown an interest in research. These early career research GPs are leading the way in their practices.


Dr Anna Turner from Imperial Medical Practice in Exmouth has recently set up the study at her surgery. Anna said; “I honestly didn’t think research was something that I would do as a GP. I became involved in research during my GP training with very little previous research experience. It has been fantastic experience, has added great variety to my work and I love the opportunities that research can give to patients.”


Anna has now become a ‘South West Research Champion’ for PACT a UK-wide network of enthusiastic primary care health professionals that design and deliver high impact primary care research. Anna is now encouraging other newly qualified GPs to take part.


Rachael Meek is a GP at Pembroke House in Paignton. Rachael said she is delighted to be able to bring research to her practice. She said: “It is so exciting to bring research to my practice! When I qualified as a GP I didn’t know anything about research but through two fellowships I got lots of exposure and realised that anyone can get involved. It is such a positive and proactive thing to do for patients and for our future clinical practice.​”


Rachael and Anna both allowed their sparks of interest in research to flourish in roles as part of their Research Fellowships which they pursued after qualifying as GPs. These new roles supported by the Clinical Research Network allowed them to get involved in a ‘light touch’ way; by committing half day a week to taking part in research. The programme has enabled them to develop an interest in research and bring research to their GP practices.


Dr Susannah Pathmanathan is helping to lead the Principle Trial at Claremont Medical Practice in Exmouth. Susie said: ‘Research is an exciting part of general practice in which we can make a real difference to the future health and well-being of our patients.”


Fergus Bostock has enthusiastically stepped into the role of leading research at his practice Rolle Medical Partnership in Exmouth creating fantastic opportunities for their patients.


Dr Judit Konya is enthusiastic about taking part in research so she has stepped up to lead the study at her surgery even though she is still in GP training. Judit is an Academic Clinical Fellow with a special interest in research – she is passionate about striving for excellence in primary care. Judit has been able to use her interest and background in academic and clinical research to open up the study at her training practice, the Mullion and Constantine Group Practice, in Cornwall.


Between them these inspiring newly qualified GPs have directly contacted over 11,000 people to let them know that they may be able to take part in the Principle Trial and they are on hand to guide and support their patients though the study if they take part.


Lisa Gibbons the Primary Care Clinical Research Lead for South West Peninsula, she said: “Many GPs are not aware that they can offer research to their patients.  The Clinical Research Network SWP aims to spread the word about research to all GPs in training, many of whom have never seen research being offered in GP surgeries. We are sharing the message that research is for all, everyone can get involved. It’s interesting to be involved with research as a GP and offers health benefits for patients.”


“It is inspiring to see so many passionate newly qualified GPs open up opportunities for their patients to take part in for high level research, they are flourishing in their new roles. Many have encouraged and supported their practices to take part in clinical research for the first time. In the case of Covid-19, in particular, it allows participants to really make a difference and to support learning about best practice and support the NHS.”

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