Strengthening our Patient Participation Group network

Monday, January 20, 2020


In early 2019, Healthwatch Sefton told us it had received feedback from its Community Champions that it was often difficult to join a patient participation group (PPG) as not all GP practices have one in place. We had also received similar feedback from some of our GP practices that it was difficult to set up and run a successful group.

To support GP practices to set up and run these groups, and to enable and encourage more of our residents to get involved, we started working with Healthwatch Sefton to explore how we might do this. In particular, we wanted to identify what type of support was needed and whether there was any specific training that we could offer.

In addition, we want to ensure that patient involvement is rooted in our plans and processes especially as the new primary care networks (PCNs)  develop across Sefton, and new ways of delivering  primary care services are introduced. Strengthening and building on our existing PPG network is an effective way of doing this, as these groups are ideally placed in GP practices, can speak on behalf of patients and support practices to deliver health and wellbeing information.

How we are responding 

Together with Healthwatch Sefton, we have being working closely with GP practices and PPG members on a plan to take this work forward. This has included holding two events as outlined below:

Strengthening PPG network in Sefton, May 2019 

This initial event brought together practice managers and PPG members to identify ways of strengthening the PPG network across Sefton. Together, we developed an action plan  highlighting some of the areas for further work and next steps, which is captured in the event  report along with a summary of the feedback.

One of the key themes from the feedback was the need to raise awareness of PPGs and to support practices to recruit more members. In response we held two identical PPG recruitment and information events, one in the north of the borough and one in the south. Iinformation about these events is below.

Patient participation group event, November 2019

The PPG recruitment and information event invited local residents, practice staff and PPG members to come along to find out more about these groups and to listen to PPG members  talking about how their groups work and the positive contributions they make.  

Alongside the event, there was also a marketplace of health and wellbeing stalls so people could find out more about local health and wellbeing services and take away information to share with their GP practice, family and friends.

We also spoke to attendees about what support and training they might need to encourage  people to get involved, and to promote and share information about the health and wellbeing services available in the local community.

To support with our PPG development plan, we also asked attendees for expressions of interest in further involvement and training. These responses are summarised below:

  • 10 people said they would be interested in joining a PPG development working group, a co-production group which will enable us to work in partnership with PPG members to increase participation and to better support PPG groups
  • 7 people said they would be interested in signing up for ‘health activator’ training, which aims to support people to share health information and to signpost to local health and wellbeing services

What we are doing next 

We are continuing to work with Healthwatch Sefton to build and strengthen our PPG network and to develop and deliver our action plan.

Here are some examples of how we are using the feedback from these events: 

  • We have contacted GP practices to forward the names and contact details of those people interested in joining their PPG
  • We have attended a Healthwatch Sefton Community Champion meeting to update on PPG developments and to encourage further involvement
  • We are updating our PPG support pack, including PPG promotional materials, which will support GP practices to recruit members and to help them to run their groups
  • We have set up a meeting with practice managers to review the PPG support pack and to discuss the feedback and next steps
  • We are in the process of setting up an inaugural meeting of the PPG development group

And here are some of the specific areas for development and action which we will focus on over the next 12 months:

  • We will undertake a PPG mapping exercise so that we can identify those practices who may need additional advice and support to set up and run their groups
  • We will offer and deliver ‘Health Activator’ training to PPG members and explore other opportunities to support PPG members to get involved
  • We will work with the patient led PPG development support group to ensure that we are considering the views of PPG members as we develop our work in this area
  • We will work with the primary care networks (PCNs) to explore the possibility of developing locality based PPG networks to support their work

We will explore how we can  broaden PPG membership so that it is more representative of the local population, with a particular focus on the involvement of young people.