April 2021 – My name is Jim Gammans and my role in Dorset CCG, along with my colleague Gill Foott, is to support Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) in the county. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 PPGs have had to change the way they meet, how they engage with their practices and what activities they are involved with.

The PPG Chairs group for Weymouth & Portland quickly moved their meetings online, inviting key practice and Primary Care Network (PCN) staff to attend whenever they could. The PPG wanted to understand the impact changes to Primary Care services were having to patients, especially those who weren’t confident with telephone consultations, were less experienced using a computer or digitally excluded. They were especially concerned as areas within Weymouth and Portland are classified within the top 10% of areas nationally for social depravation.
We decided a patient questionnaire would be the best way to get feedback from residents about how the changes since the start of COVID-19 has affected the way people communicate and access their GP, and what access, experience, and confidence they have with digital technology.
When creating the questionnaire, I wanted to build on other view seeking activities that were being carried out at the time, including the NHS South-West regional COVID-19 public insights survey. As part of a holistic approach to the questionnaire I contacted various stakeholders in the area including other NHS teams, Local Authority and Voluntary Sector partners to introduce the survey and give the opportunity for them to contribute to the document.

There was fantastic support for the project, stakeholders helped to shape the questionnaire and many organisations helped raise awareness of the survey with their supporters via newsletters, websites, targeted emails and social media posts.

We had an amazing 1,900 responses to the questionnaire, which reflected the desire for people to give their feedback and support the local NHS however they could! A report has been produced based on findings from the questionnaire, you can access it here. The PCN are already working alongside the PPGs to action the report findings and make the patient experience in Weymouth and Portland the best it can be in the future!

If you have any questions relating to this article please contact communications@dorsetccg.nhs.uk