Patient Participation Groups are an effective way to obtain public input in the ever-changing NHS.
The role of 'the informed member of the public' will become invaluable as the shift towards patient involvement and local decision-making continues to rise.
GP practices in Thurrock each have a patient participation group (PPG) or patient forum. Membership of one of these groups is open to all patients in that group's particular practice. The patient groups are usually co-ordinated by the practice manager, and meetings are attended by both patients and practice staff.
If your local surgery doesn't have a PPG yet, and you are interested in setting one up, click on the link below.
Step-by-step guide for starting and running a PPG
Commissioning Reference Group
Representatives of PPGs are invited to Commissioning Reference Group meetings, where members can challenge and have a say directly in healthcare decisions. Click on the leaflet on the right to learn more about Thurrock CRG, or visit our Commissioning Reference Group page.
What do Patient Participation Groups 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, PPGs 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.
They also offer the opportunity for patients to put forward their views and suggestions. For example, one patient group suggested that their GP surgery set up a mobile phone text service for anyone who wished to cancel an appointment. This freed up the phone lines, and also enabled practice staff to offer the appointment to another patient. Another patient group has organised health education evenings on specific health topics, which have proved to be very popular.
What are the benefits for patients?
For patients, PPGs can help to make visits to the doctor less stressful, by improving the amenities and appearance of the waiting room and consulting rooms.They can help set up services such as transport schemes, crèches, prescription delivery and local support groups.Some groups have even raised money to fund equipment for diagnosis and treatment in the surgery.
Patients involved in the PPG will also understand the problems faced by the practice and can often help to solve them. Where there is an external constraint (e.g. national policy) they can influence change by supporting the views of the practice.
If you would be interested in joining a patient participation group, please contact the practice manager at your GP surgery.