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This is the annual national conference for academic GPs in training

for ACFs, IPFs, DRFs, ACLs.

It is the major event each year to bring these groups together to present their research, to attend workshops and to hear keynote speakers. Day two will dovetail with South West SAPC (Society for Academic Primary Care).


Overview of the conference, with thanks to the hosts, the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

The aim of this annual conference, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research, is to bring together all GP ACFs and other early career GP researchers on the academic track to share their research ideas and pilot results, and to hear from experts in the field on a variety of relevant research findings and methodological innovations.

Its overall aim to is to help develop skills for PhD and grant applications and to allow plenty of time for networking with colleagues from all over the UK.

Day one of the 2020 conference, which is being hosted by the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care, will take place at the Watershed on Bristol’s waterfront and will include:

  • plenaries
  • parallel sessions
  • workshops
  • a digital poster session,
  • a Dragons Den session for ST3 and ST4 ACFs planning a PhD application
  • a debate.

A conference dinner will take place at the Riverstation restaurant.

Day 2 will take place at the Bristol Hotel and join up with the regional meeting of the Society for Academic Primary Care - South West SAPC 2020, also being hosted by the Centre for Academic Primary Care, where there will be the opportunity to hear more plenaries and participate in workshops. 

We are planning a green and paper-free event. All details of the programme, abstracts, map, and attendees’ details will be available on an app. We are currently finalising our plenary speakers, but the debate will focus on AI with Professor Roger Jones, editor of the British Journal of Genereal Practice, in the chair.

Professor Debbie Sharp at the Centre for Academic Primary Care, and organiser of the conference, said: “GP ACF conferences are a ’not to be missed’ annual event for early career research GPs. They are relatively small events and numbers will be capped at 100. This makes it easy to discuss papers and take part in workshop sessions, giving participants the opportunity to mingle with their colleagues enjoy hearing about their research. 


Provisional outline

Wednesday, March 4
09.00 - 10.00 Coffee and registration
10.00 - 10.10 Welcome
10.10 - 10.50 Keynote
10.50 - 12.05 Parallel Oral Presentations
12 .05 - 12.50 Dragons den/ workshops
12.50 - 1.45 Lunch
1.45 - 3.00 Parallel Oral Presentations
3.15 - 4.00 Digital poster session
4.00 - 4.30 Refreshments
4.30 - 5.15 Debate
5.30 - 6.15 Social activities
7.30 for 8 dinner Drinks and dinner
Thursday, March 5
9.00 - 10.30 Workshops with SW SAPC
10.30 - 11.00 Refreshments
11.05 - 11.45

Keynote: Professor Graham Watt

"The careers they are going to have, and how to square the circles: Keeping funders and universities happy while engaging and having an impact on the work of general practitioners using the Deep End Projects as an exemplar"

11.50 - 12.30 Close
12.30-1.30 Lunch

The following workshops are part of the South West regional meeting of the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) programme. Workshop places are limited, so please book early using the links below to avoid disappointment.

All workshops will take place on Thursday 5th March 2020 – 9.15-10.45
at The Bristol Hotel, Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4QF

Please note: Information about additional workshops will be made available shortly.

Please book early to secure a place.

Thursday: 9.15 - 10.45

Telling Stories About Breathlessness: using arts health approaches to help your GP listen!

Breathlessness is a clinical problem as important as pain. Breathlessness is a sensation affecting those living with chronic respiratory disease, obesity, heart disease and anxiety disorders. Patients describe the sensation of breathlessness as evoking the fear and dread of nearly drowning or having a plastic bag held over your face. A repetitive experience, (often invisible to others, who can’t help you anyway) of staring death in the face. Breathlessness disrupts the narratives of normal life. It slows you down. Isolates you. It shrinks your world. Yet most patients find breathlessness hard to describe and GPs often avoid asking about a symptom they can do nothing about. 

Over the last two years Penny and Malpass have collected over 80 letters written to the breath. The letters have helped patients explore their relationship to their breath and express their experience of breathlessness to themselves more easily. In this workshop, informed by ideas of narrative medicine, we now move forward to explore how this work can support patients to start talking to their GPs about breathlessness and support GP’s to keep asking about a symptom for which medicine can do little about.

This workshop is exploratory and intended to provoke lively discussion and potentially help inform the development of a future research bid. We will suggest how the use of arts health approaches could potentially support patient-GP conversations about breathlessness and will ask participants to consider the value of including ‘letters to the breath’ in patient electronic records.

Aim: To deliver an inter-disciplinary workshop that informs practice, ignites the clinical imagination and supports the development of a future grant.


  1. Explore with the audience how GPs can engage with the findings from an arts health project. exploring patient accounts/stories of living with breathlessness.
  2. Explore the barriers to communicating about breathlessness in primary care.
  3. Using role-play techniques, explore workshop participants views on embedding arts health project outcomes within the GP consultation.

Expected outcomes: Clinical participants will leave the workshop more aware of the therapeutic value in asking their patients about breathlessness.  All participants will see an exemplar of arts health methods and how this approach can be used for public engagement activity as well as a research method. All participants will understand the symptom of breathlessness from a narrative medicine perspective and have had fun (we hope) along the way. 

Alice Malpass, Elspeth Penny, Gene Feder - Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Exploring the challenges associated with promoting and encouraging real world use of a new digital health intervention

As academics we often develop novel interventions with the intention that they will be used within the health and social care system, either locally or more widely.  In order for these interventions to have an effect, the target users must engage with them.  Gaining this engagement with digital interventions is more complex than simply writing a prescription or referring a patient for a particular treatment.  This workshop will give members of the academic primary care community the opportunity to explore the multi-faceted approach required to ensure maximum uptake and develop the tools needed to ensure their own interventions engage as many users as possible.

For the workshop the Care Companion which will be used as a case study. The Care Companion is a free online resource which provides information, advice and guidance to help people with caring responsibilities care more effectively.  It is designed to support the carer’s well-being as well as that of the person they care for.  The Care Companion has been co-created over a period of five years by a panel of carers, with teams from the NHS, local authorities, charities and academics.  It has been available for use by carers across our local region for just over a year

Aim: To develop an understanding of the practical considerations and challenges associated with engaging users with a newly developed digital health intervention.


  1. To identify the target population for a new intervention
  2. To identify ways to engage with the target population and how to maximise them
  3. To develop an awareness of potential barriers to engagement and how to address them

Expected outcomes: Workshop participants will leave with an understanding of real life challenges of engaging users with a new digital intervention.  They will also be equipped with a range of strategies to address these issues and maximise uptake. 

Emma Scott, Ronni Nanton, Celia Bernstein - Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick.

How to Win at Twitter

Twitter is an increasingly important platform for building your reputation, finding collaborators and discovering what other people are doing. It has become the social media platform of choice for the academic community, and this is no less true for primary care academics.

Aim: This workshop is aimed at people who have a Twitter account but who feel they aren’t making the most of it. While it does cover the basics, like what a hashtag is, it’s designed to help people take more confident steps in developing their Twitter presence and get the most value out of their use of the platform.

Objectives: This course will teach you:

  1. The basics of managing and enhancing your Twitter account
  2. How to find people tweeting on things that interest you
  3. How to build your follower base
  4. How to reach more ‘influencers’ in your field when you tweet
  5. How to improve the reach of and engagement with your tweets

Expected outcomes: Workshop participants will have more confidence using twitter to build their reputation, find collaborators and discovering what other people are doing.

Participants need to have a Twitter account to participate, and to bring along a phone, tablet or laptop to do the hands-on exercises.

Zoe Trinder-Widdess – NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West)

The GP ACF conference runs for 1.5  days only and the second morning (5th March) dovetails with SW SAPC. However, registration options include SW SAPC for Thurs pm.  

NB: if you are attending SW SAPC conference on Friday, 6th March, you will need to register for that separately.


The online shop allows you to register for:

Option 1 - register for 2 full days

Two full days includes 1.5 days full delegate at GP ACF conference plus Thursday, 5th March, afternoon at SW SAPC.


Option 2 - register for 1.5 days

1.5 days includes 1.5 days full delegate at the GP ACF conference 


Option 3 - register for 1 day at GP ACF (Wednesday, 4th March) only


Option 4 - register for 1 day Thursday, 5th March (morning at GP ACF and afternoon at SW SAPC)


Options 1 and 2 include the conference dinner.

Option 3 can be with or without conference dinner.


GP ACF registration link:

Wednesday March 4th at The Watershed, 1 Canons Road, Bristol, BS1 5TX.

Thursday March 5th at The Bristol Hotel, Prince Street, Bristol

The second day of the conference will join up with SW SAPC at the Bristol Hotel


(NB if you are also attending SW SAPC on Friday March 6 you will need to register separately)

Website: SW SAPC

Conference dinner

The conference dinner will be held on 4th March at The Riverstation restaurant, The Grove, Bristol, in the heart of

Bristol's historic dockside serving modern European and Mediterranean dishes made using local and seasonal ingredients where we will have a three course dinner with wine and entertainment.