Open accountability in the NHS has always been a high priority. The need to listen and respond to the voices of those who use health services has been strongly evidenced in reports and reviews of poor patient care as well as in countless media stories in recent years.
To encourage and promote the patient voice, GP Surgeries have been encouraged to establish Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) under the General Medical Services contract through the Patient Participation Directed Enhanced Service. Its purpose was to increase patient involvement in decisions about the range and quality of services provided by GP surgeries, through a relationship between the patients and the surgery staff.
However, these relationships need nurturing and supporting if they are to succeed. Both practice staff and patients need guidance on how they can work together to consistently and continually support the delivery and development of services. We were approached by NHS Area Team South West to develop a framework to help achieve this aim.
Community engagement has always been a big part of who we are at Parkwood Healthcare and this time it was our Healthwatch Swindon contract who took the lead in the development of a framework that would shape the future of PPGs.
Our solution was to build on our experience of working closely with PPGs through our PPG forum that has been running in Swindon for a number of years. Through this relationship we were able to quickly establish a project team who took on board the viewpoints and priorities of both the patients and the GPs and worked closely with both to understand how their relationships worked to ensure that the finished product gave real, tangible benefits to the relationship.
A challenging problem doesn’t need a challenging solution. Our team quickly identified that the key to making this framework “do the job” was to make it as accessible and applicable to as many different users as possible, regardless of their current level of experience.
As a result, the final framework was written in plain jargon-free English with a clear focus on getting the basics right with plenty of examples of how both the patients and the GPs could see each others viewpoints and work together to achieve their goals.
The final product was very well received and is now being used by PPGs throughout the South West and beyond!