“Bridging the Gap” – To improve the patient experience and support the Practice – Run by patients for the patients.

A group of patients came together for differing reasons; from wanting to make our appointment system work better, to helping understand the issues facing our surgery. We found that we all had one thing in common when we came together. “To improve the patient experience and support the Practice” – Run by the patients for the patients.

With this in mind we formed our Patient Action Group. We set about looking at what we could do short term, as well as looking at longer term goals.

We felt that our aims fit into 3 distinct areas. Once outlined this also helped us to focus on these areas and how we could deliver these aims. One thing we realised very quickly was to keep our initial aims quite simple and easy to deliver upon, to help us to learn along the way.

The 3 areas were:

  1. Communication – giving feedback to both practice & patients – helping deliver improvements
  2. Information – Updates on new technologies – wellbeing initiatives – seasonal reminders
  3. Fundraising – working on fundraising events to pay for better equipment to help deliver better patient care.

One of the first things we needed to do was reach out and create a patient community, so that we could connect with other patients. We decided that a great way of communicating with other patients would be through a Facebook Group.

Therefore, we created The Whitehill Practice Patient Action Group – and explained what we were about.  We then set about promoting the group, firstly by sharing the link to all of our own Facebook Friends, and asking everyone to share with others too. Also, we shared informaiton about our new group with some other local Facebook Groups where people from our Practice would be. Such as the Fairford Leys Group and a Mothers and children Group.

We announced our new PAG Facebook Group on these sites. Now we have 181 members, which is a great start! And gives us a great community. We don’t just post information, but can gain feedback and good suggestions too.

We also ensure that for every post we put online, we also create an offline post which we put on the notice-boards in both surgeries, so all patients can have access to this information.

One thing that we did early on was to create a calendar plan. It outlined the monthly wellbeing focus, any seasonal events. This included breast checks for over 50s in Sept/October, and flu jabs. This way we had a plan of focus for the following month(s) to help us be aligned to national and local campaigns.

Although still very new we are delighted that we have already announced: –

  1. Patient appointment changes – worked with the practice to make changes to the appointments system which gives more choices for patients.
  2. Online access – explained Why and How we can go online to gain access to our surgery information.
  3. Monthly update on number of appointments and Did Not Attend numbers, to remind patients of our responsibilities too.
  4. Announcement re a local trust that helps people who are financially vulnerable.
  5. Working on our first fundraiser, with the local pub at their quiz night -where they raise money for specific causes.

We have had some great feedback to the changes that are happening within our surgery and patients have been engaging with us and giving feedback, so a real community feel, and patients feeling that they have a voice, whilst seeing some real change.

For the future we would like to introduce a bi-monthly evening well-being event, on a particular health topic. We would offer refreshment and cake and the chance to chat following the well being session.

Another focus is to increase the membership of the Patient Action Group committee as more hands make light work, and the more people who can join, means that we can be more effective and work through more ideas, as we go along.

A lot has been gained in a short space of time, but there are still so many things we could achieve over time, it’s an exciting time for the PAG and for patients of our Practice.

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