With the failings of the NHS very much in the news with blame being apportioned across the board, this should be a time when we take stock of the services provided and be aware of our own responsibilities.
Most GP surgeries will have a Patient Group of active volunteer patients who work in partnership with practice staff and GPs. Participation will give you the opportunity to become involved in monitoring the level of patient care delivered by the practice. The group is usually run by volunteers with patients and healthcare staff meeting regularly to try and improve services and communications.
Groups develop a working partnership with patients and medical professionals to obtain regular feedback on the quality of their services. Some groups also discuss future plans and ideas for the GP practice. Patients often feel that they are not involved enough in the practice.
There are several organisations which exist to help and one of them, The Patients’ Association, is working with a range of health and social care organisations to improve people’s experiences of health and social care.
The Patients’ Association organises patient and staff surveys, focus groups, observations, mystery shopping and community reporting, and patient interviews to find out what issues are really important to them.
They can offer specialist advice and give information to help run groups more efficiently and build trust between healthcare professionals and the patients who use the surgeries.
The General Medical Council also runs a Patient
Participation Group and there is a National Association of Patient Participation. Ask at your practice if you want to be more involved.
This is your NHS so if you have time to spare, why not see if you can help.
For more information visit www.napp.org.uk telephone 01932 242350, or www.patients-association.com telephone 0845 608 4455.