Since April 2016 it has been a contractual requirement for all GP practices in England and Wales to form a ‘Patient Participation Group’ or PPG to provide representation of the practice population base.
Although the first Patient Participation Group was set up as far back in 1972, most general practices in the East Riding area now have a PPG made up of a group of volunteer patients and include the practice manager and one or more of the GPs from the practice itself.
Ideally PPG’s should meet on a regular basis to discuss the services on offer and how improvements can be made for the benefit of patients and the practice alike; but there is no set way in which they work.
The aims and ambitions of each patient group depends on how they identify their practice and indeed, local needs. Where there is commonality, is the aim of ensuring their practice puts the patient and improving health care at the heart of everything it does.
Some well established PPG’s look beyond the surgery to the decisions made within the NHS that directly affect their community.
More often than not in the past, this has been in reaction to decisions they feel have been taken without adequate consultation; but now Clinical Commissioning Groups recognise the need for a closer liaison with PPG’s in their area.
The East Riding of Yorkshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group have introduced a new Ideas Exchange Forum which encourages representatives from PPG’s in their area to meet and discuss issues they feel are relevant to all. These meetings are held quarterly and are now attracting the interests of those groups across the region.
Currently the East Riding of Yorkshire has 37 GP practices in our region and most of these have an active Patient Participation Group advising the practice on the patient perspective; organising health promotion events; communicating with the wider patient base and running volunteer services and support groups to meet local needs.
PPG’s can also carry out research into the views of those who use the practice to help influencing the practice or the wider NHS to improve service commissioning. Some PPG’s have also engaged in local fundraising to improve the ambience and some services provided by the practice.
With many proposed changes to our local NHS services now imminent the views and opinions of the PPG becomes more important – but their success is still reliant on the volunteers who make up their numbers and new members are always very welcome.
Anyone interested in serving as a member of their Patient Participation Group and making a difference at a local level, should contact the Practice Manager of their local surgery or health centre for further information.
Middleton on the Wolds
(Member, Patient Participation Group, North Beverley Medical Centre)