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.

Over the past 2 ½ years, the PPG and the Practice have developed into a strong team. Members have sought to provide help to the Practice with support to help patients and the local community as much as possible. Details of what we have done and still plan to do are recorded in our Action Plan. During this time, members have supported the Practice with:

  • Development of the Practice website to make it more patient-friendly and surveying patients on the feedback of what works well and what could be improved;
  • Communications to raise awareness of the PPG and use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Nextdoor) to share information with the broader community;
  • Supporting the setup of drive-through flu clinics in 2020, including test runs to help the Practice plan logistics, recruitment, deployment of and support to volunteer traffic marshals and continued support for Winter 2021 drive-through clinics;
  • Providing updates on the local COVID-19 vaccination plans and supporting communications on the opening of the local Crane Valley PCN Community Vaccination Clinic in December 2021;
  • Supporting the Practice in encouraging and responding to ongoing patient feedback
  • Accessing health services through digital means
  • Engaging with patients outside of PPG and Social Media (for example, providing input to the Practice newsletter and information included in the Community Vaccination Telephone line)

Recently PPG members developed an animated video to encourage people to sign up for GP Online Services. One of our members provided her thoughts, and this was translated to a video which has been uploaded to YouTube here:

Following patient feedback, we worked with the Practice to create an online form to enable patients to book Nurse/Healthcare Assistant appointments online, which is not possible through SystmOnline appointment bookings.

Our volunteer members come from various backgrounds. Each brings something different to the Group, but everyone is committed to working with the managers and clinicians at The Cranborne Practice to support and promote the best possible health care for all patients.

Read more about our activities in our PPG – Action Plan 2022