Giving patients a voice

Giving citzens' a voice in the way public services are delivered is increasingly recognised as desirable both to improve those services and to give citizens a greater sense of participating in the decisions that effect them on a daily basis. Having responsive elected representatives at the local and naional government level is key to a well functioning democracy, but insufficient. Elections are infrequent. There is also a need for more direct and more frequent inputs and feedback from citizens on how public services are provided and how well they are meeting people's needs and expectations.

In the case of health care, people mostly feel they have very little chance to have their voices heard and for those providing services to know and understand patients concerns. The idea of NHS England to ask GPs to work with patient participation groups (PPGs) has been around for over 20 years. However, more recently, the NHS has included modest sums in the GPs contracts to encourage them to support the establishment of PPGs. And this year, from April 1, they are requiring GPs to do so.

The Dartmouth Medical Practice has been at the forefront of this iniatiative, having helped establish a PPG several years ago. Last year the Practice assisted the PPG in undertaking a Survey of patients' opinion and welcomed the Survey report as providing extremely useful feedback. The outcome was the adoption of a PPG-DMP Joint Action Plan for 2014-15 which is now under implementation. This has 24 separate actions aimed at improving health care in the Dartmouth area.

Your PPG would be very interested to know what you think about this initiative and to have your thoughts and suggestions on what might be the focus of the PPG's efforts in the year to come.

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