Barbara Woosey, Patient Participation Group Chair, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group
Remit of a Patient Participation Group, projects the group has got off the ground and next steps, post-Covid.
Barbara Woosey is the chair of the Patient Participation Group (PPG) at her local doctor’s surgery, Green Lane Medical Centre, in Liverpool. Former head teacher of a Primary School, she got involved with the NHS when she retired from education in 2010.
"The Patient Participation Group is strongly represented by women."
As a woman in the NHS, Barbara says she feels professionally valued, "I was asked to speak at a Clinical Commissioning Group meeting to explain how other doctor’s surgeries could set up and run a Patient Participation Group based on our example." She also notes that the Patient Participation Group is strongly represented by women.
Patient Participation Groups are established to work with the doctors to gather patient views on things that are happening in the surgery and to get feedback from them about things patients want in the practices. “As chair of the PPG, I organise the meeting agendas, help compile the minutes, chair the meetings and write a monthly newsletter.”
The biggest project the PPG has helped achieve to date is to get funding to improve disabled access to the surgery. “One of the group members is a wheelchair user, and he made a video showing the difficulties he had trying to enter the building in a wheelchair.” This prompted the surgery to apply for a grant, and they were later able to install sliding doors in the entrance, along with low level signing-in pads and a reception desk equipped for wheelchair users. The PPG also supported the surgery to get a grant to build an extension with extra rooms for clinics and meeting spaces. “We were never sure where our meeting would be held. It usually depended upon which doctor had finished their surgery, leaving a room vacant.”
"I’m sure some people tend to think, ‘oh, yeah whatever, I’m not going to bother reading it.'"
One of the next goals is to get the practice on Facebook to reach a younger audience. “So many people are on Facebook now that our newsletter might reach more patients than it does as an email attachment. I’m sure some people tend to think, ‘oh, yeah the newsletter, I’m not going to bother reading it.’ But if they see it on Facebook, especially the young people in the practice, it might lead the surgery to have more contact with a younger audience.”
Since the onset of Covid, the PPG’s work has come to a halt, although Barbara is keen to see it start up again. “I don’t relish the thought of it being virtual. I’m a face-to-face person. I’d much rather speak to people than interact online. But if it has to be that way for the next few months, so be it.”
"There are currently 4,700,000 people waiting for elective surgery. That’s a massive workload coming up."
As far as the challenges faced by the NHS in the coming months are concerned, Barbara stresses doctor and nurse fatigue. “I think the onslaught of all the elective surgery they’re going to have to catch up on is going to be phenomenal. There are currently 4,700,000 people waiting for elective surgery. That’s a massive workload coming up. It’s going to add to the fatigue, job weariness.”
Genevieve Shaw, editor