It has been four years or more now since the Patient Group formed in support of the Wickhambrook GP practice. The Group was not set up on a whim, but as the result of a drive by the NHS to ensure that every GP Practice in the country engaged more closely with its patients via a representative group drawn from the patient body.
Several members currently make up the Patient Group, volunteers, themselves patients, who are interested in the practice and want to see it work well for patients. This is hardly a problem: the Wickhambrook practice does work well. The level of care patients receive we hear from all sides to be exemplary and the traditional nature of the practice, where patients are given every consideration by a caring staff, is valued highly.
At present the practice is under considerable pressure from an increase in patient numbers wishing to register with the Wickhambrook surgery, and it is matters such as this that the Patient Group takes up with the doctors on behalf of patients. In a recent meeting we were able to pass on the concern amongst some long-registered patients that the practice was in danger of becoming overloaded and would lose its specialness. There were also concerns about parking, should the patient numbers be allowed to soar, as parking spaces are already at a premium. It says much for the doctors that not only were they fully aware of the situation, but are taking steps to ensure that any new patients seeking to register live within the prescribed geographical limits of the practice. Any suggestion that the doctors are shut away in their consulting rooms, oblivious to anything except patient symptoms, could not be farther from the reality.
I mention this as an example of how the Patient Group and the practice team interact. We deal with matters that are in the public domain: problems such as queuing for prescriptions, or delays in answering the phone during busy periods, and how best to make improvements. At our first meeting we discussed some current issues facing the practice and as an initial priority we agreed to redesign the practice website. What stands entirely outside the Patient Group remit is anything to do with doctor and patient confidentiality. As Patient Group members we represent the patient body. I emphasise this point, so that patients are in no doubt about the parameters within which we work with the practice.
So it is that in the matter of shaping and renewing the website we worked closely with all the practice team; we contribute from time to time to the practice newsletter; we circulate news to the parish councils of the villages within the practice boundaries; and we listen to all patients who wish to raise a problem or a question with the practice. I suppose we are best described as a conduit for information.
Now that we have spent time in establishing our role with the practice, and know that it is working well, we feel it is time to make ourselves as accessible as possible to our fellow patients. To this end, we now have a Patient-Group dedicated email address for patients to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question, a suggestion, or information to be shared that we can raise in a practice meeting.
The other possibility is that, on reading this, you might wish to find out more about the Patient Group. We’d be delighted to have you join us at one of our meetings to ask questions, and even more delighted if you stayed on and joined us.
Let us know if we can help in any way.
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