Since my recent appointment as Lay Member for Patient and Public Engagement at NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, I’ve been working my way around the island’s GP practices getting to meet their Patient Participation Group members, and I have to say I’m greatly impressed by the passion and commitment of all involved.

Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) have been around in one form or another since the 1970s, but it’s only recently become a requirement for all English practices to try to form a PPG. Despite their development, PPGs are still not common knowledge and most people do not know what they do. Indeed, there is no single or definitive model for a PPG.

As there is no set way in which PPGs work, the aims and objectives of each group depend on the needs of each individual practice. However, they each have the aim of making sure that their practice puts the patient, and improving health, at the heart of everything it does.

Local PPGs provide the opportunity to advise the practice on the patient perspective, organise health promotion events, communicate with the wider patient body, carry out research into the views of those who use the practice (and their carers) and even fundraise to improve the services provided by the practice.

Many practices in Thanet already have a PPG actively supporting and helping to improve services provided by their local GPs. Usually made up of a group of volunteer patients, the practice manager and sometimes one or more of the GPs from the practice, they meet on a regular basis to discuss the services on offer, and how improvements can be made for the benefit of patients and the practice.

I am currently working closely with colleagues on a project to bring together key representatives from each of our local Thanet PPGs to form a ‘Reference Group’ in order for us to better understand the needs of local patients across the district. We want to create a better two-way flow of information and engagement between NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group and our local PPGs in the near future.

Anyone interested in joining a PPG should contact his or her local GP Practice Manager.


Clive Hart