Our Position Statement

SAPC exists to support, promote and develop the discipline of academic primary care. 

This unique discipline brings together teachers, researchers, and practitioners from a range of disciplinary backgrounds to promote excellence in the development, delivery and evaluation of primary care policy and practice.

The Society’s work is underpinned by 3 key principles: 

  • PROMOTING excellent teaching, research, and critical reflection on primary care practice and policy;
  • VALUING a distinctive primary care approach
  • Recognising the importance of a MULTIDISCIPLINARY membership to achieve our goals.

What is primary care

Primary care refers to a complex set of ideas about how we understand, deliver, experience, and value health and health care. 

Primary Care refers to a way health care is organised: being a multidimensional system of care shaped by financial, governance and workforce arrangements; facilitating coordinated and continuous access to a wide range of services; seeking to contribute to the equitable distribution of health in the population through efficient application of resources.

Primary care refers to the experience of care for individuals: being the first point of contact for people with health services; providing accessible, comprehensive, and continuous care. Primary care provides treatment for common illnesses, supports the management of long-term conditions, and contributes to prevention of future ill-health through health promotion, immunisation and screening activities. An important role for primary care is to co-ordinate the care of the many people who have multiple health problems and may be receiving care from many services.

Primary care also refer to a philosophy of care: offering a generalist approach, caring for people rather than specific diseases or organ systems; emphasising a patient advocacy role negotiating complexity of care over extended periods; recognising the importance of interpersonal relationships and the person-professional interaction;  supporting  health as a resource for living.

What is academic primary care

The discipline of academic primary care brings together practitioners, teachers, and researchers to promote excellence in primary care. Reflecting the complexity of the primary care task, primary care academics come from a range of disciplines and use multiple approaches to critically explore, evaluate and develop the understanding of illness and delivery of care.

Academic primary care is a distinct scientific discipline working within, and alongside primary care to support and challenge practice through scholarly activity. It contributes to the understanding and delivery of the primary health care concept through: articulating the values and body of knowledge that informs and develops practice; disseminating and developing the models through teaching and a process of continual learning; and studying the implementation, evaluation and impact of current policy and strategy. Academic primary care thus combines critical reflection with creative innovation to help develop, implement, evaluate and teach the clinical discipline

Reflecting the nature of the discipline, primary care research and teaching address a diverse range of topics including: policy relating to primary care; how primary care is organized and delivered, patients’ experience of health, illness and care; the epidemiology of disease  and health problems encountered in the primary care setting; and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions in primary care.

What SAPC does to support Academic Primary Care

SAPC provides a forum to share information and ideas through: organising national and regional scientific meetings; supporting communication through the website, newsletters, and our discussion pages in the Primary Health Care Research and Development journal.

SAPC represents and promotes the work of academic primary care on a number of key bodies related to research and education.

What SAPC does for its individual members

SAPC recognises that academic primary care IS its members. A key priority for the organisation is in supporting individual members through: regular communications with the Society; supporting dialogue between members and with external groups; promoting networking opportunities through provision of a member directory, on-line discussion opportunities and at regional and national scientific meetings. Members receive discounted conference rates and journal subscriptions. We support the work of Special Interest Groups bringing together people with like minded interests providing opportunities for collaborative learning and development.

About this position statement

This position statement is a working document intended to promote communication and dialogue with our membership as well as with external bodies.  Whilst always holding on to our core values, we also recognise the changing environment in which SAPC works. The statement will therefore be reviewed and, if necessary, updated to reflect the needs and priorities of future situations. (Next planned review date: January 2016).



April 2011



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MacAuley D. 2010. Achievements of academic primary care in the last decade. BMJ Blogs

Kringos DS et al. 2010. The breadth of primary care: a systematic literature review of its core dimensions. BMC Health Services Research; 10: 65

The Academy of Medical Sciences. 2009. Research in General Practice: Bringing Innovation into Patient Care.

Scottish Primary Care Research Network. 2009. UK Primary Care Research Portfolio Review.

World Health Organisation. 2008. Primary Health Care. Now More Than Ever.

Royal College of General Practitioners 2007. The Future Direction of General Practice: a Roadmap

WONCA EUROPE 2005. The European Definition of General Practice/Family Medicine.

Mant D et al. 2004. The state of primary-care research. Lancet; 364: 1004-6

SAPC 2002. New century, New challenges. A report from the Heads of Departments of General Practice and Primary Care in the Medical Schools of the United Kingdom.