Hello! My name is Gill Foott and I’m one of two Engagement and Communications Coordinators at Dorset CCG, working with Patient Participation Groups in GP practices across Dorset.

So – what is a Patient Participation Group? Every GP practice in England has a Patient Participation Group, also known as a PPG. The groups are made up of patients of the practice who want to support their practice, provide constructive feedback on services, and act as the practice’s “critical friend”.

Most PPGs meet every two or three months and form strong collaborative relationships with their practices. Pre-pandemic, meetings were held face-to-face, but since the outbreak of Covid-19 many PPGs have seized the opportunity to meet online via various platforms. In some areas, this led to an increase in membership.

Usually, the Engagement and Communications Coordinators would host an annual PPG networking conference to enable PPGs to get together and share what had been happening in their own areas. Unfortunately, in 2020 we weren’t able to do this due to the pandemic, and so we have been hosting virtual webinars throughout 2021 to ensure PPGs are kept up to date.

In many areas PPG members have been instrumental in supporting the volunteer effort at Covid-19 vaccination clinics and many practices have said “we couldn’t have done it without them”.

Recently, one PPG supported their practice with a Covid-19 dedicated phone line, updated weekly by the PPG with current cohort and statistical information. This helped to reduce the amount of Covid-related phone calls to the practice, giving reception staff more time to help patients. The PPG also created its own YouTube channel  with videos to help promote and encourage online use, as part of an effort to increase engagement with patients on behalf of the practice.

In another Primary Care Network (PCN) area, six PPGs have worked together to support the formation of a Youth PPG (YPPG). The YPPG will support the plans for young people to help inform future service planning for services they use.

So it’s fair to say that PPGs in Dorset have speedily adapted to changes brought on by Covid-19 and have proved their importance to supporting GP practices and patients in the county.

To find out more, you can check out our PPG support page here.

Alternatively, why not have a look on your GP practice’s webpage or contact me to find out what your local PPG has been up to?

Gill Foott
gill.foott@dorsetccg.nhs.uk