A weekly column by Dr Ken Rigg of South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, addressing topical
There has never been a better time for Lincolnshire patients to have their say on local health services as we get ready to promote Patient Participation Awareness Week, starting on Monday.
The setting up of CCGs in April last year has given GPs responsibility for planning and buying a string of vital services including planned and emergency hospital care, rehabilitation, most community services and mental health and learning disability services.
As a result, patients joining their practice’s Patient Participation Group (PPG) are now able to influence secondary care as well as the way in which their own GPs worked.
PPGs have acted as the eyes and ears of their local practice since they were first established in 1972. Because they’re receiving the services we provide, patients are ideally placed to suggest improvements and tell us where we’re going wrong. PPGs also take some of the pressure off us by communicating self-care messages to fellow patients and raising awareness on lifestyle, wellbeing and treatment options.
While this support is vital to us, the PPGs have become even more important since the NHS shake-up last year as they now also influence our thinking on planning secondary care – which is still a relatively new responsibility for us.
PPGs are represented by an umbrella organisation, the National Association for Patient Participation. The association is backing a campaign by the Royal College of General Practitioners for government to increase funding of general practice from 8.4 per cent to 11 per cent of the UK NHS budget by 2017.
Patients are the smoke alarms for the frontline of the NHS.
They’re often first to spot poor care, and also have great ideas about how to make care better.
PPGs are a crucial way of harnessing the voice of the patient in primary care, and have much to contribute in driving up quality.
Talk to your practice receptionist to find out more about your PPG.