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Patient Participation Group Report (March 2012)

The practice has a broad demographic with 54.4% of all registrations in the last 26 months coming from non-English origin patients. A breakdown of this shows the following:

Area of Patient Origin% of registrations (Jan 10 - Feb 12)
Eastern Europe27.8
Western Europe (excluding UK)5.6
Asia - India/Pakistan4.0
Asia - Far East & China2.2
Americas - North & South0.9
Middle East3.2

Figures also show that 19.4% of all new registrations in this period are people who require the services of an interpreter, therefore making their participation in any patient reference group more problematic.

The current practice patient profile also shows there is a split of 51% male to 49% female and a large proportion (64.3%) are either under the age of 35 or over 65 which statistics suggest are less likely to participate in surveys, project groups or similar.

Initially patients were approached by reception staff and canvassed as to their participation. This allowed for a wide range of patient groups to be targeted. When it became clear that the majority of those interested were of White British origin, the issue was raised at the weekly practice meeting and GPs/nurses were asked to approach patients from all minority groups to try and recruit further volunteers. This measure was supported by notices in the waiting area and on electronic patient call boards. The transient nature of many of the practice population generates limited interest in groups such as this but we continue to try and recruit delegates both in-house, and by encouraging those patients who have expressed an interest to spread the word.

Two initial meetings were set up to establish the core Patient Reference Group. One was planned during the day and one in the evening to promote better attendance for people with work, caring, child or other commitments. At these meetings it was agreed that future meetings would be timed for early evenings as this suited the vast majority of people and would allow for maximum attendance.

The initial patient reference group consisted of 12 people. Five were males and seven females, and the majority were of White European origin although there was representation from both the Jewish community and the British Asian sector. Recruitment from ethnic minorities was difficult due to a general lack of interest, language and/or interpretation needs and limited support from local minority social groups. There was also a problem due to the age range of many of the minorities as particularly, most members of the immigrant population are in the "younger" age-range and therefore have less need for, or interest in, Primary healthcare issues.

Due to canvassing work carried out by the practice, the second meeting resulted in attendance from 15 patients (5 female and 10 male) and showed a slightly better representation from members of the ethnic minority communities. There was a least one member from Asian, Jewish, African and Eastern European origins and, although the practice will continue to work on this, it is a positive improvement from the first round of meetings. The merger of the practice with Dr Ghosh in the Summer will also promote additional group membership/attendance.

A generic survey (click here to download survey) was conducted to establish some baseline data and a general feel of patient perceptions (click here to download results). Details of this survey were published in hard copy format and circulated to all members of the Patient Reference Group inaugural meetings for discussion. As a result of this, a simpler but more specific and focused questionnaire was issued to patients that asked about the two main issues that had been highlighted as "needing review" (click here to download survey). Data to come out of this second survey was also collated and published for the second group meeting (click here to download results).

Action Plan

The outline plan discussed at the Patient Reference Group meeting in March following publication of the second survey results dealt with the issues of appointment availability and prescription procedure. Suggested actions were as follows:


  • Increase number of "same day" appointments
  • GPs to debate having a telephone surgery each day (on an on-call rota basis)
  • GP return from long-term absence will allow extra appointments
  • Practice merger in Summer - extra GPs, greater flexibility
  • Continuation of extended hours service.


  • Scripts greater than 1 month may not always be appropriate as GPs wish to check progress of treatment and encourage patient engagement. Also PCT directives are against this as there often is unnecessary wastage of medications.
  • Telephone re-ordering is not practical within current set-up although will be reviewed as part of post-merger plans (and relocation to new building with new phone system)
  • Practice email could be set up with staff trained to check and download requests. Patients will need to be advised to give specific details about themselves and their medications. The practice will also need to consider any implications of the perception of discriminating against those patients who do not have, or have access to email.