Whilst there is no defined and set way as to how PPGs should work, the typical arrangement is that they meet on a regular basis to discuss the service provided by the practice in question and what improvements could be made to benefit the wider patient population and the practice. PPGs may be virtual, face-to-face or a combination of the two. Dependent on the number of members it may be that an ‘organising committee’ is required to set up these two different groups. All PPGs should have a Constitution / Terms of Reference whilst a Chairperson and Secretary should also be appointed.
The workings of PPGs should be guided by local needs with the central aim of putting the patient, and improving health, at the heart of everything it does. Some groups often look beyond the immediate vicinity of the surgery to healthcare decisions that affect the community in which the surgery is based. PPGs advise the practice on its performance from a patient’s perspective, providing strategic input and advice, giving an insight into the responsiveness and quality of services that the practice delivers. In some instances PPGs also organise health promotion events and look at ways to improve health literacy amongst the practice’s population, in addition to encouraging patients to take greater responsibility for their own, and their family’s, health and wellbeing. PPGs also regularly communicate with the wider patient population, run volunteer services and support groups for the locality, carry out research on behalf of and into the Practice and conduct fundraising to improve the service provided by the Practice.
The PPG and Practice should work in conjunction to review feedback from sources such as Care Quality Commission (CQC) related issues, the NHS Friends & Family Test (F&FT) and local voluntary and community groups (e.g. Healthwatch). The Practice should engage with PPGs and aim to review and act on this feedback, considering areas for improvement. Based on the priorities for improvement identified from these sources of feedback, the Practice and PPG should come up with an action plan in the form of a report (to evidence appropriate involvement of the PPG from the Practice), what actions were taken to address these priorities and the changes made following these actions.
PPGs give patients a voice and allow constructive suggestions and ideas to reach the areas of the practice where change can be implemented. One of the reasons that PPGs operate is to provide practices with positive yet constructive feedback. They are intended to be a ‘critical friend’ to the practice, not to replace the formal complaints procedure.