I’ve been a member of the Gladstone Practice’s Patient Group for 5 years now. Originally set up in 2011/12 by the Practice’s GPs and the Practice Manager, the Group comprises patients from the practice who are interested in giving feedback and helping to make the practice run as smoothly as possible for the benefit of everyone.

As we are all volunteers, we each decide what we, personally can do and importantly, how much time we can dedicate to the group. We even decided what we call ourselves – the Gladstone Practice Patient Group.

I joined because I had found myself using the practice’s services more frequently as I accompanied various older members of my family for appointments. As such I had begun to develop a new and more informed perspective on the practice’s services that I felt that would be useful to share. Now that I’ve seen first-hand how well our Patient Group has worked with our Practice to bring about improvements for the benefit of everyone, I am all the more committed to my involvement. I would add however that being someone with a busy working life, fitting in a volunteer role is not always easy.

This is why I really appreciate that the Gladstone Patient Group is not a formal committee-based group. Nor does it require a huge amount of administrative work. It is simply a group of patients with a shared interest in making sure Gladstone Practice provides the best possible support to its community. As such we commit to regularly getting together once a quarter in the practice to talk about ideas. We’re very lucky that our Practice Manager and staff handle the administrative side of things such as Agendas and Minutes.

At all our quarterly meetings we review the feedback that the practice gets from the Friends & Family Survey, and we advise the Practice on how to respond to issues raised. This is a two-question automated survey that is texted to each patient after an appointment at the Practice. The first question simply asks patients to rate how likely they would be to recommend the practice to friends and family on a scale of 1 being very unlikely to 5 being highly likely. The second question asks patients for ways to improve the practice. The Practice also has paper copies of the survey in the waiting room with a box for submissions. All feedback is anonymous. It’s an incredibly simple but highly effective way to communicate with patients as there is no need for the group to get involved in membership databases, chasing feedback or endless administration.

Every quarter, the Practice Manager simply gives us a print out of all the anonymized comments that have been received by the Practice over the previous 3 months. We get about 30 comments a month. We then discuss the findings as a group and decide what actions we can take to address the comments or suggestions that have been sent in. While we do get a few comments suggesting that more doctors are needed, most comments are extremely positive about the practice. Most patients are able to get appointments when they need them, although they may have to wait a while if they want to see a particular doctor. With the Hospital Doctor Scheme in place, the capacity of the practice to offer appointments has increased. Patients who work and have commuting journeys can get evening appointments on Mondays or Wednesdays. After review by the Patient Group, the findings and responses to the Friends and Family Test are published by month on the website and a hard copy is provided in the sub waiting area. The previous 3 months are put up after each quarterly Patient Group meeting.

Other decisions and actions are published for other patients to see wherever is deemed most appropriate during the meeting, eg in the sub waiting area and on the Carers notice board and our website or on our auto check in screen. Again this is done by the practice staff. I am very happy with the way our Patient Group runs as I feel it is a very efficient way of working and allows us to do have good insight and input in the time available.

Diane Rutter, member of Gladstone Practice Patient Group

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