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All-Wales initiative to tackle primary healthcare challenges

26 September 2008

Primary care plays a crucial role as the front-line service of the NHS, particularly in Wales, which has some of the most disadvantaged communities in Europe. Effective, comprehensive primary care improves not only health but also quality of life.

However, the provision of primary care varies greatly across the country. Rural and post-industrial areas pose very different healthcare challenges.

The review by Derek Wanless identified a need for primary care investment and development to ensure sustainability of both primary and secondary care services. Currently, a lot of health care is delivered in hospitals that could and should be provided in the community, close to where people live and more cost effectively. The Welsh Assembly Government’s vision is for locally accessible services offering patients integrated services from clinical, health and social care professionals, together with services for procedures where quality is enhanced by concentrating them in fewer, highly specialised centres.

To support this vision, several Welsh Universities are collaborating to create the Wales School for Primary Care Research. Backed by the Welsh Assembly Government, this will provide relevant research to help the development of high quality primary care in General Practice, Pharmacy, Nursing, Optometry and Dentistry in the first instance. It aims to develop and share excellence in primary care research and, in time, work with professionals across all relevant disciplines to improve the quality and quantity of primary care research in Wales.

The School is a new partnership between the Universities of Cardiff, Swansea, Glamorgan and Bangor. The Director, Professor Chris Butler, Professor of Primary Care Medicine at Cardiff University, said: "Worldwide, health care delivery is changing fast, with excellent primary care widely recognised as the key to a sustainable health service. But this has to be underpinned by world-leading research if it is to deliver. The Wales School for Primary Care Research brings together researchers from several primary care disciplines to develop and share research excellence so Wales can continue to punch way above its weight in this crucial field."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "Research shows that those countries which have a strong primary care health services are best able to control health costs and have populations that are satisfied with care provision and have a high level of health. The Wales Office for Research and Development for Health and Social Care is developing a strong research infrastructure on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, who are supporting the development of the Wales School for Primary Care Research.

"The main emphasis of the Wales School of Primary Care Research will be to promote a ‘step change’ improvement in the quality and quantity of multi-disciplinary research. World-class research of international standard will then generate evidence that is locally applicable and internationally relevant to inform practice and policy in Wales and beyond."

Professor Joyce Kenkre, Professor of Primary Care in the Faculty Health, Sport and Science at the University of Glamorgan and Associate Director of the Wales School of Primary Care Research, said: "The development of evidence based care provision for the population within Wales is important. This should be based on high quality research and this new initiative will provide the opportunity for health care professions to work together in primary care to investigate future care delivery."

The Centre for Health-Related Research, at Bangor University is part of the partnership. Centre Director Professor Jane Noyes said: "The All Wales School for Primary Care Research is a great opportunity for Bangor University researchers to contribute their expertise to the partnership. The partnership will provide opportunities to investigate primary care issues that local people face in North Wales and enable us to undertake research of international relevance."

The School’s official launch takes place at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, on Monday September 29, with the First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan.


Notes to Editors:

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. It is also ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education (THE). 2008 marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University having been founded by Royal Charter in 1883. Today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities. Visit the University website at:

Cardiff School of Medicine

Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The school’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2,000 students, including 1,110 postgraduate students. The School is an international leader in basic and clinically applied research activities and scored highly in the most recent Government Research Assessment Exercise. School of Medicine researchers annually win tens of millions of pounds in research awards to work with Government, the healthcare industries and the charitable sector on the most pressing issues of human health.

Bangor University

Bangor University has a strong research base across a spectrum of academic disciplines engaging in research at national and international levels and continues to develop academic specialisms which have a world-wide impact. The University provides strong support for research activities including encouraging links with commercial and industrial bodies in the UK and overseas. The University also aims to be responsive to local and regional needs and is particularly conscious of its role as a research resource and a training base for North Wales.

The University is committed to providing teaching of the highest quality, and taking good care of its students and has over 10,000 students and 2,000 members of staff.

The University of Glamorgan

The University of Glamorgan boasts three modern campuses, two in Treforest near the town of Pontypridd and a brand new state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Cardiff city centre. Glamorgan attracts more than 21,000 students and is renowned for its friendly community atmosphere and quality learning, teaching and leisure and sporting facilities. The Guardian named Glamorgan the best new university in Wales for the third year running in 2008, and it was nominated for University of the Year 2007 by the influential Times Higher Education. Visit the University website at:

Swansea University

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led university situated in stunning parkland overlooking Swansea Bay on the edge of the Gower peninsula, the UK's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Founded in 1920, the University now offers around 500 undergraduate courses and 150 postgraduate courses to more than 13,000 students. Visit The University's School of Medicine is one of the UK's fastest growing research led Graduate Entry Medical schools. Its interdisciplinary research is focused around the new Institute of Life Science, a £52 million partnership between the Welsh Assembly Government, IBM and Swansea University to discover new ways to treat disease and deliver healthcare, while contributing to the economic development of the region. Visit

MEDIC13 Primarycare

Further Information:

For further information please contact

Professor Chris Butler

Head of Primary Health Care,

Cardiff School of Medicine,

Cardiff University

029 206 87168


Members of the media wishing to attend Monday’s launch event should contact:

Stephen Rouse,

Public Relations Office,

Cardiff University.

029 2087 5596