Patient Participation Groups have been around a long time, the earliest being set up in 1972. From April 2015, it has been a contractual requirement for all English practices to form a patient participation group (PPG) and to make reasonable efforts for this to be representative of the practice population (see http://www.napp.org.uk/ppgintro.html for more information).
We have a PPG at Combe Coastal Practice and meet quarterly and it is made up of patients from the practice, the practice manager and, when available, a doctor representative, currently Dr Stampfli. We have had presentations from various health-related bodies so that we are informed of some of the services – and problems – that are affecting our current NHS, with particular emphasis on the impact on GP services. However, our role is not just to meet and get better informed; it is to make a difference by strengthening the relationship between patients and the practice, to provide patient views, to promote health matters, to improve communications and influence the development of services.
We will also provide updates on the Sustainability and Transformation Plans, renamed Sustainability and Transformation ‘Partnerships’, making sure that we highlight where there may be an impact on GP services.
We are involved in planning and helping to facilitate specific health campaigns and activities; the last GP activity in which we participated (as guides and helpers at the door) were the flu immunisation sessions. We’d like to do much more: look out for a PPG suggestions box in the waiting room: would you like to see newsletters from us, leaflets on particular aspects of health or local health services, open sessions with presentations on important health topics, or anything else?
We all have a duty to look after our health, not only because it makes life more enjoyable if we can avoid some of the so-called ‘lifestyle’ problems endemic in 21st century Britain, but also because if we understand the causes and cures of these ailments – and the more mundane coughs and colds – then we can use the GP surgery more appropriately.
We are very lucky in this part of North Devon to have a full complement of GPs and supporting clinical staff at Combe Coastal – there is a national shortage of GPs and other healthcare staff in many parts of the country and Primary Care is under more pressure than ever to offer care at home. The merging of the Warwick and Waterside practices and the improvement to the buildings and services offered in Ilfracombe, Combe Martin and Woolacombe puts Combe Coastal Practice in a positive position to tackle many of these challenges whilst still ensuring it puts patient health and wellbeing at the heart of its philosophy. We in the PPG will do what we can to help our practice thrive, to provide a voice for patients and to promote a healthy community.
You can complete a sign up form online or ask for a leaflet at the reception desk – we look forward to meeting you at our next meeting.
Netti Pearson, Chair of Combe Coastal PPG