The accidental Patient Participant Group: GP commissioning and mental health

16 Nov

The notice on the GP surgery noticeboard said:

“Get involved in how we run your surgery. Meet the staff & share your views.”

Turned out to be a meeting to establish a Patient Participation Group which the surgery is required to do by the Care Quality Commission. Who knew? I just wanted to ask them not to leave repeat prescriptions with other patients’ names, addresses & drugs face up on the counter.

At the meeting, I heard about Clinical Commissioning Groups & Patient Participation Groups, services currently provided in the area, future plans and the halving of the public health budget. That overview was a bit too much for my brain. I think for me right now ignorance is bliss. The big picture is kinda scarey.

The smaller picture also gave me pause. Is it really local GPs like those in that small hot room who will be in charge of the NHS budget? They see people on the frontline of primary care every day. But what do they know about management of massive budgets? Inpatient care?

And is this small group of patients, cobbled together from those who spotted a notice on a board, capable of holding the CCG to account?.”Well I think we need more guidance when we’re caring for someone at home who’s dying, on what to do when they stop eating & drinking,” one woman volunteered when asked for comments on services the surgery could offer in future. “You can get sectioned for that,” came the response from a man in the group. “What?” asked the women, concerned. “They’ll section you in a psychiatric hospital if you stop eating and drinking. It’s true.” Guess who was appointed chair of the Patient Participation Group? The guy who helpfully chipped in about sectioning people. Super.

On the plus side, my concern about not leaving confidential patient information in view will be raised at the monthly reception meeting.

Read the Storify story I put together of some thoughts & impressions I tweeted (follwed by others’ responses) after I accidentally found myself at my local surgery’s Patient Participation Group to find out more  …

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PS I recognised the PPG chairman sitting on another table in a cafe this afternoon. I thought about going over and asking him a bit about himself and how he saw his chairmanship of the PPG. And about his comments on sectioning under the Mental Health Act. But by the time I’d just about got up courage, he was leaving and paying.

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