Some Dart Patients have queried why and how the Dart Patients Constituition was updated. The Constitution elaborated four years ago was an innovation; no other Devon PPG has a comparable document guiding its activities. The update was needed because the original Constitution failed to clarify the procedures for the election of officers and members of the PPG. The latter acts as the executive of Dart Patients. Remember that all Dartmouth Medical Practice registered patients are members of Dart Patients, but members of the PPG are elected at the Dart Patients Annual Members Meeting. Previously there were fewer nominees than places to fill on the PPG and there was no need for a ballot.
Also the original Constitution failed to define the terms of PPG membership. This year there were more nominees than places and, as a consequence, there was a need for a ballot. So the PPG decided in agreement with the DMP to update the Constitution to provide the needed clarification.
The updated Constitution agreed between the Dartmouth Medical Practice and the PPG on October 15 2019 clarifies that PPG members are elected for a 3 year term renewable no more than three times. This aims to ensure both reasonable continuity and turnover of the PPG membership. The new Constitution also requires that a candidate for the PPG must be nominated and seconded by a PPG member and that the PPG be representative of the DMP patient community. This means that the PPG should ensure that the town and each of the surrounding villages (Dittisham, Strete, Blackawton and Stoke Fleming) are represented, and that there is also a gender and age group balance. The PPG is also concerned to ensure that other relevant organisations such as Dartmouth Caring, the TQ6 Community Partnership, Dartmouth Together and Dartmouth League of Friends. Where needed this can be achieved by co-opting members. Also, from time to time the PPG may chose to invite individuals to attend its meetings if they have a special contribution to make. In particular, the PPG has routinely invited the local non-executive directors of the Torbay and South Devon Hospital Trust to join its meetings.
The new Constitution also clarifies that the Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary should be chosen from among PPG members by the PPG. This is done in agreement with DMP; the concern here is to ensure that the PPG's officers were familiar with the aims and working practices of the PPG in a similar way that the Dartmouth Town Council elects its mayor. Also, the PPG recognises that it can only fulfill its role effectively if there is a strong and harmonious working relationship between the PPG and the Dartmouth Medical Practice. It is essential that the PPG is not captured by any political lobbying group with a limited agenda.