Support for Patients

The patient opinion of primary care is our priority. As such, this page is dedicated to informing every person in the United Kingdom on how to shape the future of their care, and in doing so, ensure their opinion is front and centre of the primary health and social care agenda. By taking responsibility for your health, you will contribute to the continuous improvement of services and quality of care for all patients in the United Kingdom. The most effective way of doing this is by setting up or joining a Patient Participation Group.

Support for Patients
The patient opinion of primary care is our priority. As such, this page is dedicated to informing every person in the United Kingdom on how to shape the future of their care, and in doing so, ensure their opinion is front and centre of the primary health and social care agenda.
By taking responsibility for your health, you will contribute to the continuous improvement of services and quality of care for all patients in the United Kingdom. The most effective way of doing this is by setting up or joining a Patient Participation Group.
LATEST NEWS FOR PATIENTS
Survey on patient policy priorities and resources – results and next-steps

Survey on patient policy priorities and resources – results and next-steps

From 22 April – 12 May the National Association for Patient participation ran a nation-wide survey, asking both our members and the general public to share the concerns and issues they are facing within primary care.

Read more

What does a Patient Participation Group do?

In practice, PPGs can play a number of roles, including:
  • Advising the practice on the patient perspective
  • Organising health promotion events
  • Communicating with the wider patient body
  • Running volunteer services and support groups to meet local needs
  • Carrying out research into the views of those who use the practice (and their carers)
  • Influencing the practice or the wider NHS to improve commissioning
  • Fundraising to improve the services provided by the practice
Important changes to the GP contract* – Patient Participation Groups a contractual requirement in England

From April 2016, it has been 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. Click here for more info

The first Patient Participation Group was set up by a GP in 1972 and many general practices in England now have a PPG. Generally made up of a group of volunteer patients, the practice manager and one or more of the GPs from the practice, they 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.

The beauty of PPGs is that there is no set way in which they work – the aims and work of each group entirely depends on local needs – but they are have the aim of making sure that their practice puts the patient, and improving health, at the heart of everything it does.

Some groups have, for some years, looked beyond the surgery to the decisions made within the NHS that directly affect their community. Regrettably, most often it has been in reaction to decisions taken without adequate consultation. In many cases, patients and primary care professionals have supported each other in promoting the patient and public interest.

Benefits of a Patient Participation Group:

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.

How to set up a Patient Participation Group:

If you’re interested in having a say in the way your local health services are delivered, getting involved with your practice’s PPG is a great place to start.

No training is required to be a member of a PPG – the most important thing is that you are keen and focused on taking positive action to help the practice and the local patient population.

All PPGs are different, but generally involvement tends to include attendance at monthly, bimonthly or quarterly meetings. Some PPG members will choose to take on additional roles that are more time consuming, such as editing/contributing to the PPG newsletter or setting up and running health education or fundraising events, but if you have less time available, this isn’t a requirement.

Not only can joining or starting a group help to shape the delivery of services, many members also find that volunteering is a great way to meet new people and develop your own skills, such as negotiation, dealing with people or even speaking in public.

Step by step guide to PPGs

How to Join a PPG

If you are interested in getting involved, the first step is to find out if your practice already has an established PPG. Below are some simple steps to get you started:

  • Speak to the practice manager: If you’re not sure whether your local GP surgery has a PPG, either look out for information and posters about the group in the surgery, or ask the reception staff or the practice manager, who is likely to be involved in running the group.
  • Sign up: All PPGs are different and recruit members in different ways, but any group will be keen to hear from interested individuals. It’s a usual requirement to be registered at the practice in order to become a member. Your practice manager will be able to give you details of who to contact to sign up, and when the next meeting is taking place.
  • Two’s company: If you’re nervous about going alone, why not encourage a friend to go with you?
  • Take action: Most groups meet on a regular basis at the surgery itself to give patients, GPs and practice staff an opportunity to meet, to exchange ideas and information, and then to take action.
  • Share your ideas: Be prepared to give your opinion about the way the practice is run, and any thoughts you have on how things could be improved – from the welcome patients get when they arrive at the practice, to the parking facilities or the appointments systems, the group and the practice will be keen to hear your views.

Support a Patient Participation Group near you

If you are interested in supporting the work of PPGs in your local area, there are several ways you can help. PPGs regularly conduct fundraising initiatives to support their activity and to invest in improvements to their practice. Any financial support would be very welcome. Local charities might fund raise in partnership with PPGs in the area.

In addition, PPGs are always on the lookout for more arms and legs to support their work. If you have a specialist skill you can offer, for example, to help in the development of a practice newsletter, or in the updating of the practice website, the group will no doubt be very keen to hear from you! If you are unsure about which practices have a PPG, the best first port of call is the practice manager.

Stay informed

Find out about Patient Participation Groups as well as relevant policy changes, publications or projects.

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