This week is National Patient Participation Week. The week is organised by the National Association for Patient Participation, (N.A.P.P) a national charity, formed in 1978. Uniquely placed as the only umbrella body for patient-led groups in primary care, N.A.P.P has over 40 years’ experience in promoting, supporting and developing Patient Participation Groups (PPGs). There are now over 1500 groups affiliated to N.A.P.P, representing at least ten million patients across the UK.
Every GP practice in England is required to have a PPG to provide feedback to the practice from patients and to act as a channel for two-way communication between the wider patient community and the practice. Working in partnership with GPs and practice teams, Patient Participation Groups ensure the patients perspective is at the heart of local provision so that services are of high quality and continuously improve. Groups can also provide practical support in the surgery, foster improved communication between the practice and its patients and help patients to take more responsibility for their health.
Patient Participation Week aims to highlight the importance of patient participation to achieve excellence in care for all patients. During the week Patient Participation Groups across the UK will be holding a wide range of events to increase public and professional awareness, including working with local media organisations to spotlight success in patient participation. NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) supports PPGs through the Patient Partners Board, which is an advisory group to the CCG Governing Body, whilst the Chair of NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG chairs the quarterly joint meeting of all Blackburn with Darwen PPGs.
Michelle Pilling, Lay Advisor for Patient Involvement and Deputy Chair of NHS East Lancashire CCG, said: “GP practices are the cornerstone of the NHS – 90% of the contact the public have with the NHS is through their local GP surgery. People value having easy access to their GP and really treasure the expertise that they have, but GP practices are a victim of their success. Like many NHS services they are experiencing heavy demand and lots of pressure.”
Graham Burgess, Chair of NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, added: “A PPG can support GP practices in so many ways – for example we have seen PPGs running walking groups, health awareness sessions, and helping patients to get online to make appointments or order repeat prescriptions. By joining your practice PPG you can not only support your local GPs but you can also help people in your community.”