We support primary care professionals by keeping them informed on any changes that may impact their practice. We connect them to create a unique community which has the patient voice at its heart. And we educate them to ensure that all practitioners understand the importance of patient participation.
Patient Participation Groups are here to support you and your practice team – they are an extension of the care you provide to the community and help you meet the individual needs of your patients. By working together, you and your Patient Participation Group will be able to identify the fundamental needs of your patients and gain a solid understanding of your local health and social care system.
By encouraging patient participation, you are ensuring that the voice of patients in your community informs decision making at local, system-wide and political levels:
From 1 April 2015, it will be a contractual requirement for all English practices to form a patient participation group (PPG) during the year ahead and to make reasonable efforts for this to be representative of the practice population. Having a PPG is already the norm for most practices and is expected for CQC inspection. The practice must engage with the PPG including obtaining patient feedback and, where the practice and PPG agree, will act on suggestions for improvement. Practices will be required to confirm through the e-declaration that they have fulfilled these requirements. The change will reduce practices’ PPG workload as reporting requirements (set out in the previous optional “enhanced service” clauses) will be withdrawn.
The practice PPG will need to enable the involvement of carers of registered patients but who themselves are not registered patients.
Since April 2011, having a PPG has been an enhanced service i.e. an optional clause in the GP contract which attracted extra funding – currently 35p per registered patient. This will cease on 31 March 2015 and the associated funding will be reinvested in “global sum” i.e. the standard contract. This change follows feedback from practices that excessive monitoring and reporting required for the enhanced service has detracted from the purpose of patient participation.
* The GMS (General Medical Services) contract is negotiated annually by the trade union of the medical profession, the British Medical Association (BMA), and NHS Employers, which is the Human Resources / workforce arm of the NHS. It sets out the terms for the vast majority of general practices which are independent contractors to the NHS, and determines what services the practices must deliver, the targets to be reached and the funds which will follow from meeting these. Some practices also employ salaried GPs.
(*The contracts for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales have differing priorities)
Further details from NHS Employers or the BMA websites
PPGs are about implementing real, positive change in their communities. Patients have long valued the relationship with their GP and general practice. However the dynamics of this relationship have changed over recent years – patients today rightly want more say in their own healthcare, they are better informed and expect to be treated as whole people, not just as a condition or ailment.
PPGs have an increasingly important role to play in helping to give patients a say in the way services are delivered to best meet their needs, and the needs of the local community.
PPGs can help GPs to develop an equal partnership with their patients. They can help them to communicate accurately and honestly with individual patients, and with the wider community about key health matters. They can also help to reduce costs and improve services by identifying changes that the practice may not have considered, allowing resources to be used more efficiently. What is more, they can develop mutually supportive networks for patients and the practice, outside of individual appointments.
There is clear evidence of PPGs making real, constructive changes to the provision of services at general practice level, aiding the responsiveness of the practice and its ability to provide services that truly reflect what patients want and need.
PPGs also play a key role in encouraging healthier communities, through the provision of information, advice and support to help local people lead healthier lives.
Whether you work in a GP surgery, in the PCT, a local voluntary group or any other local organisation, you can get involved in setting up and supporting the work of PPGs.
Discuss with practice partners: The first step should be discussing the concept of establishing a group with the practice partners. For those not familiar with the benefits of PPGs, it may be worth giving them some practical examples of how the group could improve local services. To learn more about the work of existing PPGs and gain inspiration for your own group, visit the case studies section of this site
Seek advice from existing local groups: It’s worth checking whether other practices in the area are already running a PPG. They may be able to offer advice on getting a group off the ground.
Recruit members: Once all parties are in agreement that a group should be established, you’ll need to consider the membership of the group, and how you’ll set about recruiting suitable people. Things to consider might be:
Which practice members are happy to participate in the group? Will you share the responsibility or will one person be the lead coordinator?
What is the best way to recruit a membership that is representative of the local community? Some practices invite patients directly, while others appeal for membership through posters and leaflets, local media coverage or information in the practice newsletter.
Consider practice resource: While having a PPG should not be labour intensive in the longer term, as patients themselves should take on the running of the group, the practice manager and at least one GP from within the practice should aim to attend each meeting. It is also worth considering logistics for the meetings – most existing PPGs meet at the surgery, although some use other off-site venues.
Lay out the group’s aims and objectives: What does the practice consider to be the ideal aims and direction for their group? (Remember that once the group is formed it will, to a certain extent become autonomous. However the practice will have considerable influence through facilitation during the initial stages.)
Organise your first meeting: A first meeting should outline your expectations of the members and how the group will run. It is vital that members understand the scope of the group, but also how important their input will be over the coming months.
Consider linking with N.A.P.P. We provide help, support and expertise on setting up and running a PPG and it can help to link up with them at the outset to avoid some of the more common errors that are made, and which can compromise the development of the PPG.