Our Practice Forum (now called Patient Reference Group) was formed in February 2008. The Forum’s aims were to:
- Share ideas for practice development with our patients
- Discussion around current topics within General Practice
- Assistance at Practice Open Days/Patient Meetings
- Assistance in resolving any practice problems
At that time our Forum members consisted of 7 patients:
- Two retired patients, one with past experience of working within primary care and one member still active with the Local Authority on various council forum
- One member working within Palliative Care
- One IT Analyst
- One teacher of special needs children
- One member who has worked voluntarily within the Practice for some time
- One Development Manager for a Pharmacy Company
- Practice representation by a GP, Practice Manager, Deputy Manager and minute taker.
During 2011 we also recruited an ex-school teacher, two members working within the Primary Care Trust, one member working with Early Learning and another working with disabled people. We feel we have a balanced representation of most groups. The Practice has a very low ethnic population and have, so far, been unable to recruit anyone from this population.
We developed our Forum through various means:
- Posters placed at strategic points in waiting area and local library asking for volunteers
- GP personal invitation during consultations
- Advertising on our practice newsletter
- Invitation by reception staff via hand-out
- Advertising on our practice patient call system.
- Personal word of mouth
- Invitation where a patient has felt a need to complain, encouraged to join Forum to become a ‘voice’ for the patient.
Our poster asks for members from all backgrounds – eg retired, working people, mixed age ranges, sex and ethnicity. We also welcome those with experience, eg community leaders, but also encourage those who haven’t.
We have recently been requesting patients’ e-mail addresses in order to reach a greater number of people through an ‘e’ forum.
Patient Participation to Date
- Opportunity to discuss the potential Darzi Centre for Hebburn. This led to a very lively discussion and the Group became involved in the decision making with the Primary Care Trust about the situation of the potential Darzi Centre. In the end, the decision was made by the Primary Care Trust not to pursue the Darzi Centre.
- Extended Hours – the Practice was able to discuss with the forum the extended hours scheme developed by the Government and were able to offer their views on the timings and days for extended hours. The practice also did a further survey on patient views before deciding one a late evening service. Forum members felt one regular night would be preferable to varied evenings and this was implemented.
- The Practice had received comments via a Patient Survey of a lack of confidentiality at our reception desk. The Forum members kindly helped out in looking at the acoustics and positioning of patient queuing system at desk. They also suggested a bigger sign identifying that the practice has a confidentiality room
- Debate around the way the practice telephone system operates (as a result of patient survey comments around telephone access). Discussion around whether to alter, number of lines, type of answering etc. Agreed practice, at that time, should not implement a ‘number pressing’ system of call answering.
- Draft Website circulated to members for comments on how user friendly it appeared, before it went live.
- Member of forum kindly allowed practice access to his medical record in order that the practice could look at ‘on-line’ booking of appointments from a patient view.
- Discussion around the abolition of Primary Care Trusts and the new Clinical Commissioning Groups, raising patient awareness of changes and pressures on the NHS
- Recruitment of one member of our Group who now sits on a South Tyneside-wide Patient Reference Group.
Since March 2008 the Practice have participated in several surveys.
Comments have been:
Our most recent Patient Survey was completed in October 2011. This survey was based upon comments made by the forum members around telephone access and appointment availability. A suggestion was made to add to the survey the question of patient parking, however, in discussion it was felt this would be better discussed again with the local council, rather than put into a survey, as we are aware of the parking problems.
The results of this most recent survey were presented to our Forum members at our December 2011 meeting
Patient comments from the survey were:
|Patients Said||We Responded|
|Need more reception staff||Introduced a ‘bell’ for patients to call when receptionist is away from reception desk.|
|More evening appointments||Increased number of available appointment and added a nurse clinic running alongside GP.|
|These were the only negative comments, the rest were complementary to the staff and doctors.|
Our Scores against the national average were discussed:
The Practice’s overall score for patient satisfaction was 73% which is the same as the National Average for all participating practices and 73% as opposed to 72% national average for practices of a similar size to ours – so overall the results were quite pleasing.
Overall results of this current Survey were that 91% of patients rated our practice good, very good or excellent.
Scores where we felt we could improve, in discussion with our Patient Group, and agreed as an Action Plan were:
- Telephone access and answering system
- Availability of appointments – both routine and emergency
- Better ability to see a practitioner of choice
Implementation of Action Plan
The Practice has begun to take action following our Group meeting and as a result of our most recent survey.
The Primary Care Trust invited all Practices to take part in an Access survey, looking at patient access by telephone and appointment system. We completed our survey last September and the results of all practice surveys was shared at a full meeting of Practices, led by our Clinical Commissioning Group in December 2011.
Since taking part in the Survey, we have had a follow up visit by the Improvement Foundation, who conducted the initial Access Survey and have looked at the following areas:
- Better balance of pre-bookable appointments to those available on the day.
- More planning ahead for Doctor holidays
- Increased availability of telephone lines at certain times of the day
- Investigation of local bus times to increase staff availability at reception desk when bus stops outside of surgery
We are beginning to implement some changes and when these changes have been in place for 4-6 months, a timescale advised to us, we intend to re-survey around the particular areas of our Patient Reference Group Action Plan to, hopefully, show improvement and better patient satisfaction.
Access to Services
We publicise to patients our opening times and access to services via:
- Practice Leaflet
- Practice quarterly Newsletter
- Practice Website
- Patient poster
- NHS Choices website
Our comprehensive practice leaflet and website both outline all available services and how patients can access. All new patients are given a copy of the leaflet and a supply if the leaflet is periodically left in the waiting area for patients to pick up.
Our website has been in operation for several years, but has recently been updated to give more information to patients. The Practice also has the responsibility for keeping the NHS Choices website up to date, and monitoring and responding to any comments placed
The Practice has a section on the Website for our Patient Forum and the results of Surveys, minutes of Forum member meetings etc are posted there and advertised in our Practice Leaflet as to the availability of this information..