WHAT DO PPG’s DO?
This will very much depend on your GP practice, the level of involvement from patients and the public and local need. In general terms though they can:
- Provide communication channels between patients and the practice.
- Provide information for patients.
- Improve the surgery environment.
- Contribute to practice decisions.
- Provide support services.
- Fundraise and monitor patient satisfaction.
- Provide strategic advice and insights into the implications and results of patient surveys.
PATIENT PARTICIPATION GROUPS – A PERSPECTIVE FROM A LAY CHAIRPERSON
(WRITTEN FOR WHERE IS THE CARE)
Hello, my name is Tony and this is the story of our Patient Participation Group otherwise known as a PPG. I had fairly recently been retired when in January 2014 I received an email from the receptionist at my surgery informing me that they were looking for volunteers to start up a patient group. Not that I was kicking my heels for something to do, my interests were Neighbourhood Watch, gardening, a little cycling but most of all The Great War, I was a frequent visitor to the battlefields in France & Belgium not to mention DIY.
I responded and shortly found myself one Tuesday afternoon sitting around the surgery with about 8 other patients feeling out of my comfort zone. The receptionist set the scene and the doctor outlined the job to hand. We were to get patients to tell us what they thought of the surgery, to suggest improvements and keep patients updated with surgery news. That sounded interesting as I was already full of praise for our wonderful NHS and how it functioned. I think I saw it as a way of learning the in and outs of it. In hindsight, that was a big ask, who knows how it functions, not many I’m sure.
Some officers were required to run the committee, we all looked nervously around and a lady next to me said “you’d make a good chairperson”. I had some experience of this so agreed along with two other ladies. The three of us agreed to meet just prior to the next meeting to set out an agenda and to give some direction to the group.
We have just passed our first anniversary and although we are always struggling to gain new members, those we have got are enthusiastic and I said to them from the start, although our health is a serious business, we must have some fun where possible, and we have. We really need patients from all sectors, disabled, mental health problems for example, that is our focus. Our doctor and his wife are Indian and at Christmas, she kindly put on an Indian buffet at the surgery. It was very good and it brought us closer together, we have indeed made new friends.
Having read a good deal about patient groups, the one phrase that has stuck with me, describes the group as being a ‘critical friend’ to the doctor and surgery. It seems that as long as I keep that in mind, I can say if things are not going right for the patient, and that is who must come first, the patient.
As a spin off from belonging to this group, we get to go to meetings with Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who have taken over from the old Primary Care Trust (PCT) and who commission most of the clinical services that Thurrock needs with a budget of £183M this year. It is opportunity to speak to people in the organisation, and put a view directly. As we all know, the NHS is going through radical change and a big thing is that patients are being asked to speak up, are we up to the challenge? Although most of the NHS is wonderful, there have been some serious failings, not least to individual patients who have suffered through inexcusably bad treatment. This must not be allowed to happen anymore. It is patients speaking up, and loudly, to prevent these injustices.
Between PPG’s and CCG’s sit the Commissioning Reference Group (CRG), it’s a focal point for PPG’s and a variety of patient groups for example, Stroke Association, Diabetes UK and Mental Health to meet together and exchange ideas. Presentations are given from experts and it is a great learning experience. More importantly as a patient voice, we are involved in some local decision making which is fed into the CCG board, but it does rely on patients being involved and that is always a struggle, to recruit them. As we all know, the NHS is going through radical change and in April 2015, it will be a contractual requirement for all English practices to have a PPG and for patients to speak up, are we up to the challenge?
Our group is coming up to its AGM in April 2015; no doubt I will stand again if elected. I’m up for it!