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Changing the status quo

We all have an opinion on the NHS services we receive, but how many of us actually feedback our experiences, whether it’s to make sure poor treatment is reported, or even more unlikely, to thank someone for their overwhelming support? It is such a boost for the morale of staff when good feedback is received, but as a society we are slow to compliment. As an organisation the Clinical Commissioning Group can actually learn just as much (if not more) from good feedback than it can from complaints.

I sit on the decision-making board for North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as a lay member and have a responsibility to hold the board to account on how well it is, or isn’t, considering the views of the public in its decisions.
With such a wide range of services and people’s varied health needs it’s not easy to capture the views of everyone. There are over 50 groups in North East Lincolnshire connected to the health service and uniquely we also have the Accord community membership, with over 2,500 members, which does a great job of bringing community views together; but not everyone’s a member or wants to be.

Twenty-three GP practices in the area have patient participation groups (PPGs) but they’re mostly working independently which means vital feedback isn’t being captured centrally and used to improve services – however, this is changing. Recently I’ve been working with the customer care team to create a PPG Chairs’ Group which is intending to meet every six months. The group will share good practice between surgeries and it will enable me, together with the customer care team, to collate valuable patient feedback to further inform the CCG and local NHS managers.

We have met twice and as attendance grows I hope the impact this group has will be significant. We’re able to use this network to share surveys and gather insight from a broader range of people who may not have been aware of it otherwise. We’re able to see how other GP practices are working and introduce improvements more quickly to things like appointment systems. I very much see it as a two way thing, on one hand capturing what patients in primary care think whilst on the other providing a direct channel for CCG information reaching patients.

However it’s not without its challenges; some surgeries don’t have a PPG and the PPGs that are active are mostly made up of people aged 50 plus. It’s really important that we gather everyone’s views, no matter what their age. It’s the status quo that people wait to have their say only when major services are affected. If people think their hospital may close there is usually a huge groundswell of public opinion, but on the other hand the majority of feedback for the NHS comes from complaints.

If we can change the culture so feedback is an everyday part of using NHS services, both good and bad, then we’ll have a greater understanding of what’s working well, and what isn’t, so the NHS will be the best it can be.

 

 

 

 

Philip Bond 
CCG Lay Member for Patient and Public Involvement

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