News & Media
“Why I’ve volunteered for a Patient Participation Group”
Patient Participation Groups are volunteers who meet on a regular basis to discuss what their practice needs from a patient’s point of view. The role includes being a critical friend to the practice, giving the team feedback on new ideas and providing insight into the responsiveness and quality of services. It encourages patients to take greater responsibility for their own health, carries out research and can improve communication between practices and their patients.
PPGs work with us when we’re undertaking major work for a surgery’s premises – for example, when we’re going to be doing works to a practice building to make more space or add an extension, or when we’re creating a whole new building to help a practice move into a modern space with more room.
PPG Awareness Week aims to create a better understanding of what PPGs can bring to primary care and promote the support available for anyone wanting to join or start a PPG.
Sue from Cheshire told us what it’s like to be a member of her local PPG .
How many people are in your PPG?
We’re only a small group, but there’s about eight of us. We’re very lucky to always have the practice owner and manager in meetings with us.
What would you say to people interested in joining their local PPG?
It’s an ideal way to help patients with any queries they may have that are not big enough to approach a GP with and they can help to influence decisions for the practice and understand how procedures work that can be frustrating.
What are the typical things your group talks about ?
Staffing levels, IT systems – making sure they’re all up and running, for example, making sure the information in the waiting areas that the patients see is all up to date and any queries that have been raised by patients and that we can help with.
What are the typical queries that might come up?
Sometimes we’ll be asked why it might be taking longer to get a prescription, which can be frustrating. Being able to get appointments is another common one – we now have a system where we can offer on the day appointments at 8am, but also save some appointments for the afternoon.
How do you get answers to the questions you’re asked?
Some we can answer directly but if we can’t, we would advise the patients that we will go away and speak to somebody on their behalf, or that someone in the practice will contact them. We also deal with some complaints, and which is another role of the PPG. We always try to deal with things from a patient point of view.
How important is it for patients to have a way of communicating with primary care teams?
Very important. Doctors deal with the most sensitive parts of being a human being, basically, and if we can’t get the answers we’re looking for from anywhere else, to be able to ask the GP is very, very important. We’re very lucky within our practice that all our GPs are very open to discussing anything with patients and having our practice owner in the meetings with us every month means we can communicate a lot more clearly with patients and for the GPs.