A PPG is a group of patients who represent the patient voice in their GP practice. They’re an important link between a practice and its patients.
Since 2015 we have been funded by Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to support PPGs in the county. We’re here to help and support your group. If you’d like us to come and talk to you, we’d love to hear from you.
Healthwatch Bucks can help at any stage of setting up and running a PPG.
You can get in touch by phoning 01844 348 839 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established PPGs may also find the tips on how to increase their membership or getting started with social media helpful. For new members there’s a section about PPGs and how to get involved.
We know that every PPG is different and has different needs so we’ve divided the toolkit into sections so you can see at a glance the parts that are right for you. You can download the full toolkit at the bottom of the page.
What is a Patient Participation Group?
A PPG is a group of patients who represent the patient voice in their GP practice. They’re an important link between a practice and the patients.
Encouraging more patients to join the PPG
This section is based on, or adapted from, Healthwatch Reading’s 2019 toolkit.
From our survey we know that PPGs use a variety of ways to recruit members.
Posters, leaflets and using new patient registration were the most common. Other approaches include:
- face to face
- five PPGs use the practice website
- the waiting room TV screen.
Handy Hints for PPG promotion
Running the PPG
This section is based on, or adapted from, Healthwatch Reading’s 2019 toolkit.
It may be that you’re thinking about what’s right for your PPG or considering new ways to run the group. Perhaps the first step would be to call a meeting of interested patients to talk about what sort of PPG they want and what it should do?
This section gives some hints and tips for setting up and running meetings that might help.
Preparing for the meeting
When and where
Most PPGs meet at their surgery. This usually means it is convenient for people to get to and easily accessible for people with disabilities.
Identify who will chair and take notes for the meeting.
Dates and times of meetings should be advertised well in advance, so people can arrange to be available and have an opportunity to prepare for the meeting.
It may be helpful to agree some ground rules for PPG meetings. This could include the following:
- We recognise that this meeting is not a forum for individual complaints and single issues.
- We aim to start and finish on time and stick to the agenda.
- We aim to avoid disruptions to the meeting including the use of mobile phones.
- We respect all members of the group – all views are valid and will be listened to; one person speaks at a time; questions and contributions are usually directed through the chair of the meeting.
- Silence tends to indicate agreement.
- We recognise that constructive, honest debate is useful.
Terms of Reference
Each PPG should prepare and agree a simple constitution or ‘terms of reference’. This should be reviewed regularly and made available to new members of the group.
The terms of reference should include an outline of:
- the vision, objectives, the work of the group (what it will do)
- roles and responsibilities within the group and who can take part)
- how the group will work (eg how often it will meet).
There are example terms of reference and templates in several PPGs toolkits. For example, in Healthwatch Reading’s 2019 toolkit.
The PPG may sometimes discuss confidential GP business (but not confidential patient information). In such cases the practice may ask PPG members to sign a confidentiality agreement. The practice should explain the details and purpose before asking members to sign.
Having a chair
A chair makes a valuable contribution to the group. Where possible the chair should be a patient. A person who is new to this type of role might ask the chair of another PPG to mentor them informally. Or they may find support from someone who has a similar role in another community group.
The agenda is an important part of the PPG meeting. It sets out what the group will discuss and what actions need to be taken or agreed. A good agenda will keep members interested and support the aims of the meetings.
At each meeting someone should make a note of what is discussed and agreed. The PPG may elect a secretary to do this.
How can we learn from other PPGs in Bucks and beyond?
Check what others are doing in your area
- Sign up to our monthly newsletter here to learn more about other PPG activities. It will also give you all latest news about Bucks health and social care services.
- Check the Bucks CCG PPG webpage.
- The Bucks CCG website also gives information on other Bucks health-related topics.
Meet with other PPG members
Bucks CCG is encouraging PPGs to meet with other PPGs in their local area.
GP practices are now grouped into Primary Care Networks (PCNs). See the “Getting involved with the Primary Care Networks in your area” section below.
Bucks CCG Patient Participation Group Network
As a PPG representative you can join the Bucks CCG Patient Participation Group Network which meets twice a year.
The Network helps the two-way flow of information between the CCG and the wider population. It’s one way for the CCG to let people know about their activities and give news about local health services. It’s also your chance to feed your PPG’s views back to the CCG.
More details about the network are on the Bucks CCG PPG webpage.
Find out what’s going on nationally
National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.) members can attend their annual national conference. The website provides details https://www.napp.org.uk/conference.html.
What can the PPG do to help our practice and the community?
The top activities that PPGs told us about were:
- providing feedback to the practice about the patient experience
- helping with communication between the practice and the local population
- providing other practical support to the practice
- reviewing the practice website from time to time to ensure that it provides information that patients require and can understand
- contributing if the practice is inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
- helping to design and carry out patient surveys, asking for local views about services
- organising health promotion events for patients.
You can read more about some of these activities on our website:
- What you can do for your GP Practice (and what your GP Practice can do for you)
- Setting up and running a pop-up café for the community
- Encouraging people to look after themselves
- Helping patients to get online
- See how one patient group increased their membership through Facebook…
- Patient group improves privacy in GP reception
We also published a case study:
Keep checking back because we’ll be adding new examples as we hear about them.
Getting involved with the Primary Care Networks in your area
GP practices are now grouped into Primary Care Networks (PCNs). You can also find out more about PCNs on the Bucks CCG webpage. We know that many PPGs are getting together with others in their area and engaging with their PCN.
This is a great opportunity for PPGs to represent the views of the patients from their surgery and the wider local community as the PCN develops its new services. We’ve written about what a PCN will be offering.
We also have examples of how PPGs are working with PCNs across the county. We have updates on:
- Launch of Dashwood PCN
- Inaugural meeting for South Bucks PCN Patient Participation Group
- Aylesbury Vale South PCN
- PCN-PPG meetings in Aylesbury and Arc Bucks PCNs
And there’s also a blog from North Buckinghamshire Patient Support
How should PPGs comply with data protection laws
The practice manager will be able provide guidance on the collection and storage of contact information and personal details that people are asked to provide when registering their interest to join the PPG.
Using social media
Social media (such as Twitter and Facebook) can be a great way to share information with PPG members or a wider patient group. It can also help you increase your membership because some people may prefer to engage through social media. We’ve put together some simple guidelines should help to avoid some of the possible pitfalls.
Download the guides below:
Where to go for further help and advice
Some of the toolkits and templates that already exist to help set up and run PPGs are below.
- A good place to start is the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.) https://www.napp.org.uk/index.html. A range of materials can be accessed by joining N.A.P.P for an annual fee. Some resources are free https://www.napp.org.uk/healthyppgs.html.
- Healthwatch Reading have also produced a great toolkit. This includes advice and templates for agendas and minutes https://healthwatchreading.co.uk/report/2019-02-01/healthwatch-reading-ppg-toolkit
Other local Healthwatch have also produced helpful guides or toolkits. These include:
- Healthwatch Barnet – http://www.healthwatchbarnet.co.uk/patient-participation
- Brighton and Hove – Patient and Participation Group Toolkit – Step One
- Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Healthwatch Peterborough – http://www.healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk/patient-participation-toolkit.