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Healthwatch works with local health commissioners to support patients in having their say

06/01/2015

Healthwatch North Lincolnshire, in partnership with NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG,) is helping members of Patient Participation Groups (PPGs), to ‘have their say’ on how GPs run local surgeries.

Patient Participation Groups are groups of active volunteer patients who, through regular meetings with surgery staff and GPs or virtually by email, provide feedback on the services offered and how improvements can be made for the benefit of all.

As the local consumer champion for health and social care, Healthwatch has been working closely with the CCG to help PPGs create better relationships between themselves, surgery staff and other patients with the aim of increasing public involvement and reducing the number of issues and complaints.

On 9 December, Healthwatch and the CCG hosted the second quarterly PPG Chairs meeting which brought together patient representatives in order to share their experiences and to tell Healthwatch and the CCG how they could be better supported to work effectively on behalf of their fellow patients.

Healthwatch North Lincolnshire Chair, Julia Pollock, commented: “A lot of people are unaware of PPGs and the work that volunteers do to support and challenge the work of their local GP practice. As a consumer champion organisation ourselves, we felt we could help the members of local PPGs to be even more effective in their work. As a result of the feedback from PPGs at these quarterly meetings, we are now planning a range of initiatives and events which we hope will provide groups with the skills and confidence to effectively challenge and influence practices for the benefit of the patients they represent. These include a series of training sessions and a PPG induction pack to support PPGs in the recruitment and training of volunteers."

Ian Reekie, CCG Governing Body Lay Member for Public and Patient Involvement, is the CCG representative working with Healthwatch on improving patient participation and is a staunch champion of PPGs. He explains why PPGs are so important: “Patients must be at the heart of decision making about their care, and their views are essential for shaping services that are fit for purpose for themselves and others. Groups also provide practical support in the surgery, help improve communication and facilitate ways for fellow patients to take more responsibility for their own health. Currently 13 of the 19 GP practices in North Lincolnshire have PPGs that meet regularly and a further 3 practices have virtual groups. If you are interested in having a say in the way your local health services are delivered, PPGs are a great place to start. Not only can joining a group influence the delivery of services, many members also find that volunteering is a great way to meet new people and develop skills, and it is good for personal health and well-being. To find out more and to enquire whether your local PPG has any vacancies for new members, do get in touch with the practice manager at your GP surgery.”

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