Understanding Patient Participation Groups

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Northumberland commissioned research to help it understand how the Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) associated with the 41 GP practices in Northumberland currently work and how it and PPGs can most effectively communicate and exchange information and views and how this can be used for the benefit of patients, their families and carers. They spoke to 21 people.

The research has identified several key areas where further discussion or action would help PPGs develop in a way that is appropriate for them. The research shows that PPGs want to engage with patients, with Healthwatch Northumberland and with the wider health community but for some this is difficult. PPGs see real benefits in engaging more widely and collaborating with others to improve the patient experience. Some PPGs would like to network and engage on a countywide basis whilst others would prefer to do this at a PCN level.

The research also highlights several areas of challenge for PPGs:

  • Recruitment and retention of members who are representative of the Practice Population and who are able to understand and represent the patient perspective and work with the Practice to create improvements to service
  • Engagement with patients and with the Practice to gather feedback in a meaningful way and to collaborate with the Practice to use this feedback to best effect
  • Time and to a lesser extent cost – to travel to meetings, to attend meetings at a time that is suitable and to contribute effectively both within and outside the meetings

Just over half of the PPGs in Northumberland completed the survey that formed the basis of the research and a further 4 provided information during telephone calls meaning Healthwatch Northumberland heard from 61% of the PPG population during the research period. One of the challenges for Healthwatch Northumberland is how it engages with the whole PPG community, particularly those who opted not to engage this time.

As PCNs develop, the role of the PPG will become more pivotal because these networks will need to understand the patient perspective and identify how they can develop services that, among other things, improve population health. Healthwatch Northumberland, along with the CCG will have a role to play supporting both the PCNs and the PPGs. To be most effective Healthwatch will need to ensure robust relationships with the CCG, PCNs and PPGs.

The report provides recommendations that are set in the context of the aims of the research and focus on the aspirations and challenges faced by PPGs and the way in which Healthwatch Northumberland can best engage to help address these.

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General details

Report title 
Understanding Patient Participation Groups
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Northumberland
Date of publication 
Monday, 4 January, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 1 November, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 30 November, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.