The Cranborne Practice in East Dorset serves a patient base of just under 11,700 people from its main surgery and is based in a rural village, while its branch surgery (Lake Road) is found in the growing town of Verwood. Cranborne and Verwood’s communities have different views on the need to participate in the PPG and require different engagement strategies.
In early 2020 members developed a strategy to reinvigorate the group, raise awareness of the PPG and employ mechanisms to promote two-way interaction and participation from a wider number of patients. Actions included publicising the PPG’s existence, varying the days, start times and venues for meetings, developing a PPG newsletter and creating a virtual group (through Facebook) for those who are not willing or able to attend a meeting.
However, from March 2020 onwards, some of our plans had to be revised given the pandemic and subsequent social restrictions. At both surgeries, staff and clinicians worked tirelessly to manage demand brought on by the pandemic while trying to maintain business as usual. Although we switched from in person to meetings via video link, we increased the number of sessions held from three meetings to eight over the last six months of 2020. This has now settled to a meeting frequency of approximately every six weeks, though these are still held via video call. This suits most members and the Practice management.