A short history of SAPC

The Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) is the primary organisation championing academic primary care in the UK.  SAPC aims to provide a clear voice and a strong presence for APC in the complex and ever-changing Primary Care environment. We offer a point of reference and contact for those seeking academic solutions to the problems they face in the provision and study of Primary Care. SAPC also provides career support to professionals seeking to develop excellence in the provision of primary care and the advancement of academic primary care. 

The early years

A detailed history of SAPC has recently been published.1 In brief, APC in the UK originated in the educational arm of our discipline.  The first UK funded undergraduate academic General Practice (AGP) post was established in Edinburgh in 1948.With the foundation of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in 1952 came a goal to establish a department of General Practice in every medical school.

The visionary work of key individuals led the growth of AGP departments with independent Chairs throughout the UK. The first AGP scientific meeting was held in 1972 in Cardiff, at which the Association of University Teachers of General Practice (AUTGP) was established. As the maturing discipline expanded its capacity for both education and research, emerging departments welcomed colleagues from multiple disciplines. AUTGP became the Association of University Departments of General Practice, and – in 2000 – the Society for Academic Primary Care.

SAPC today 

SAPC today maintains its firm base within university academic departments delivering primary care teaching and research. Our diverse membership reflects the range of professional disciplines working with and within primary care; about half of our members have a clinical background.2 Reflecting the growing diversity and complexity of UK primary care, we also work with an expanding range of colleagues and organisations to support primary care improvement – including the RCGP, national Clinical Research and Academic Health Science Networks, research funders including the National Institute for Health Research, as well as international partners including the Australasian Association for Academic Primary Care (AAAPC) / the Australasian Primary Health Care Researcch Information Service (PHCRIS)  and the North American Primary Care Research group ( NAPCRG ).

Our work focuses on the Society’s three key goals: i) to champion a vision of advancing primary care through education and research ii) to build and support a vibrant APC workforce and iii) to create and sustain impact through collaborative action. Activities include hosting regional and national meetings; career support for early career academics, primary healthcare scientists, and academic GPs through providing a range of ‘getting in’ and ‘getting on’ resources; as well as outreach work with external organisations. This work is led by the SAPC Executive, currently made up of 9 elected and 6 co-opted members – including the Chairs of the Heads of Departments and Heads of Teaching groups. 

Understanding Primary Care

Our 2011 Position Statement details the understanding of Primary Care which informs our work.

Our Strategic Plan

In 2013, and in light of ongoing changes in both the academic and clinical contexts, SAPC identified the need for a new strategic plan to guide our work. Our new plan focuses around three areas of work:

  • Raising the profile of Academic Primary Care - a distinct discipline driving improvement in primary care through scholarship
  • Building and sustaining an academic primary care workforce
  • Achieving impact through collaboration
  • 1. Howie J, Whitfield M, editors. Academic General Practice in the UK medical schools, 1948-2000. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press; 2011.
  • 2. Calitri R, Adams A, Atherton H, et al. Investigating the sustainability of careers in academic primary care: a UK survey. BMC Family Medicine. 2014; 15: 205. DOI: 10.1186/s12875-014-0205-6