Patients encouraged to get involved supporting GP practices
Oxfordshire CCG is backing ‘Patient Participation Group (PPG) Awareness Week’ (19/24 June) to show the importance of patients in supporting GP practices with services they provide.
PPGs ensure the patient view is at the heart of local provision so that services are of high quality and continuously improve. PPG members also act a ‘critical friend’, working in an informal way with practice staff and doctors to help deliver better services.
PPGs also allow patients to learn more about health issues and how the wider NHS works so they can give informed views on ways to improve services.
PPG Awareness Week is an opportunity for PPGs in Oxfordshire to highlight these benefits among patients and staff, and to encourage more people to get involved in their surgery’s patient group.
Louise Wallace, lay member (Public and Patient Involvement) at Oxfordshire CCG, said: “We know that each practice’s Patient Participation Group is very important to the practice and local patients, and there are many examples of the positive contribution to how decisions are made about patient care. They also enable GPs to be aware of what works and what doesn’t at their practices and to make changes to further improve services.“
Louise added: “If you want a say in the way your health services are delivered getting involved with your practice’s PPG is a great place to start. This is important because surgeries are keen to ensure PPGs represent their practice population.”
Some PPGs meet face-to-face, or reach a wider group via a virtual reference group, providing comments on plans through email. No experience is necessary, and joining a PPG doesn’t need to take up much time. All PPGs welcome people from different backgrounds and communities to ensure their views and needs are being represented.
Case study: Goring and Woodcote Medical practice PPG
Jeremy Hutchins, chair of the Goring and Woodcote Medical Practice’s PPG in South Oxfordshire, has been actively involved in his patient group since it launched in 2007. The PPG now has over 200 members and is still growing.
Jeremy said: “I have seen the PPG grow in size and effectiveness during this time. We now have nearly 200 members and a core committee of 12 providing support and advice to practice GPs and staff. We are greatly valued by the practice. Over the past two years our activities have included:
• Organising meetings on key health issues which always attract over 100 patients. Our last meeting in April focused on the issue of the ‘overuse of anti-biotics’ with a presentation by Dr Simon Pettitt the GP practice lead for prescribing. Professor Carl Heneghan, the director of evidence based medicine at the University of Oxford gave an excellent talk on the subject at the same meeting;
• Patients are now having a bigger say in the way the appointment system is managed, which is helping to increase the number of people seen by GPs at the practice;
• We launched a new project in 2017, to raise awareness among patients and GPs of health and wellbeing groups in the area; this will enable more people to make better use of these services with a particular focus on self-care;
• We are planning to provide some IT training to encourage more patients to make better use electronic health records and other online services;
• The PPG supports the practice’s annual ‘flu-clinics’ helps to ensure patients are seen promptly – this initiative has received positive feedback. “
Jeremy added: “Now more than ever it’s important that PPGs are effective and able to provide well-structured input to the sustainability and transformation planning for health services, particularly primary care. I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to further improve health services to join a PPG – it has given me a great deal of satisfaction knowing we are making a difference to patient care.”
Find out how you can get support your GP practice to improve services.