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.

A summary of how PPGs make a difference can be found here.

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.

What are PPGs?

Currently there are around 1250 PPGs affiliated to N.A.P.P. Research carried out by the NHS Information Centre in January 2009 revealed that 40% of English practices had a PPG. There has been significant growth and the latest estimate suggests that the figure is around 75%.

In practice, PPGs can play a number of roles, including:

Funding for these groups is commensurate with their activities and are normally met by the practice. In the majority of cases costs are minimal. Recognition of the worth of an active PPG as a viable and necessary feature of practice, normally results in obtaining adequate funding.