As patients of our practice, we hope you might be interested in joining our patient group. This is part of a national initiative aimed at encouraging the greater involvement of patients in decisions about the range and quality of services provided and over time, planned and funded by the practice.
So what does it mean for you? The idea is that a representative cross section of our patients meet periodically, perhaps three or four times a year, to discuss matters that affect the practice and its patients. We also envisage contact with the group by e-mail which has the advantage of patients being able to contribute their views and ideas without committing more time to attending meetings thus making it more convenient for everyone.
If you would like to join the Practice Patient Group, please ask our reception staff for a form or click here to download the form, complete it in full and return it to the practice. We are aiming to get around 50 patients of all ages, male and female, different ethnic backgrounds, medical conditions and needs so that different points of view can be taken into account by doctors and staff in the practice.
Analysis of Patient Survey 2014 (.pdf)
Analysis of Patient Survey 2012 (.pdf)
Patient Participation Group Meeting Minutes
Download our previous PPG meeting minutes below:
Meeting Minutes 27th October 2015
Meeting minutes 9th June 2015
Meeting Minutes 21st April 2015
Meeting Minutes 10th February 2015
Healthwatch Presentation 2nd December 2014 (.pdf)
Meeting Minutes 2nd December 2014 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 23rd September 2014 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 17th June 2014 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 13th May 2014 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 1st April 2014 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 11th February 2014 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 14th January 2014 (.doc)
Review of Activities of the Patient Reference Group (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 3rd December 2013 (.doc)
Healthwatch Presentation 3rd September 2013 (.pptx)
Meeting Minutes 3rd September 2013 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 11th June 2013 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 2nd May 2013 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 5th March 2013 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 15th January 2013 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 6th November 2012 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 4th September 2012 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 14th August 2012 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 12th July 2012 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 29th May 2012 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 4th May 2012 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 7th February 2012 (.doc)
Meeting Minutes 10th January 2012 (.doc)
Patient Participation Group Report 2013/14
Established in the last quarter of 2011, we now have an active group who meet regularly with the practice.
We continue to advertise the group on our website and in our surgeries with a view to attracting more patients to join the group. A number of new patients have joined during the last year but ideally we would like to attract younger patients. During the recent patient survey undertaken by the Patient Reference Group, members of the group actively encouraged younger patients to join and some success has been achieved. Notices are displayed in all our sites detailing the members of the PRG together with contact details for the Chair & Vice Chair.
Since the beginning of 2013 a combination of partners and the practice manager and his deputy have met regularly with the Patient Participation/Reference Group members and a total of 9 meetings have been held.
During the September meeting, representatives from Healthwatch attended our meeting and gave a presentation which is available for viewing on our website.
Working in conjunction with the practice, the PRG has also produced 2 newsletters during the year and will continue this arrangement in 2014 and beyond. The newsletters are displayed in dispensers at all 3 sites and available for patients to take a copy.
As a consequence of discussions and recommendations by the group at the meetings a number of initiatives have been agreed and undertaken by the practice to improve either services or communication. These include the installation of another automated blood pressure machine, this one based at Thorley Health Centre; improved merchandising at all 3 sites enabling patients to more easily be aware of the various messages being cascaded on posters and notices and a major reconfiguration change to the back office and reception area at Church Street Surgery with a view to improving telephone handling. More staff are now available to deal with incoming telephony and we have recently received some positive feedback. During the year we also increased our nursing team and currently have 5 practice nurses and 2 healthcare assistants.
Initiatives that we are currently working on include offering on-line appointment booking with nurses for patients with certain chronic illness conditions and a review of our current telephone system.
The PRG undertook a further patient survey in January 2014; the questions were agreed between the PRG members and the practice and again aimed primarily on ascertaining patients views and awareness on our services. In total, 18 questions were included in the questionnaire.
PRG members sat in the waiting rooms of all 3 sites during week commencing 6th January and distributed the questionnaire encouraging patients to complete these whilst they were at the surgery. In total 490 questionnaires were completed.
The main conclusions from the survey were that there remains a high level of dissatisfaction with the appointment system and the long wait for telephones to be answered. The PRG recognise that improvements have been made to telephone response times but these improvements have yet to be reflected in the view of a majority of patients. A number of patients were unhappy with the service they received from some reception staff and they also commented that they would prefer better continuity of care by seeing the same doctor or nurse when being treated for a continuing medical condition.
The positives from the survey are that most patients answering the questionnaire were aware that the practice nurses are highly trained and are able to deal with a wide range of conditions; most patients were aware that we now have automated blood pressure machines in the waiting room areas at 2 sites and no appointment is required for this service. The question “What do you like about the practice?” highlighted that patients felt the clinicians were good and that patients welcomed having 3 sites in the town.
The partners have discussed with the PRG the responses to the questionnaire and agreed actions based on feedback, in particular addressing or improving, where possible, the services identified with the highest level of dissatisfaction.
The actions we propose undertaking are:
i) Online booking facility for nurses
We propose trialling this with certain practice nurses and for certain chronic illnesses where there is a standard length of appointment time. We will review outcomes after an agreed timescale.
ii) Service received from reception staff
All front line staff will be involved in refresher training with particular emphasis on meeting patient’s expectations.
iii) Telephone answering
We will continue to utilise more staff in answering incoming telephony with a view to ongoing improvement.
iv) Continuity of care
The partners recognise this is a concern for some patients. They intend to review options available but, because we operate over 3 sites and the doctors are rostered at each of these, this remains a challenge.
v) Appointment system
Unfortunately, because of financial constraints, the practice currently has no plans to recruit additional doctor resources but we are hopeful that, in having more practice nurse staff, they will be able to see more patients thus freeing up appointment availability for doctors.
Church Street Surgery Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm
Thorley Health Centre Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6.30pm
Haymeads Health Centre Monday – Friday 8.30am – 1.00pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Wednesday evenings 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Saturday mornings 8.15am – 11.45pm
Patient Participation Group Report 2012/13
Our patient group was established in the last quarter of 2011 and the first meeting held in January 2012. Since that time we have continued to advertise the group on our website and in our surgeries with a view to attracting more patients to join the group. A number of patients have joined during the year and we have had some success in recruiting younger members.
We have notices in all our sites detailing the members of the Patient Reference Group and this includes contact details for the Chair and Vice Chair.
Since it’s inception a combination of Partners and the Practice Manager have met with the Patient Participation/Reference Group members regularly; a total of 10 meetings have been held.
The Group invited a representative from the PCT to attend one of these meetings to discuss the methodology of how the practice is funded and to express their concern of how we are disadvantaged because of the national formula which determines this funding. Also invited to a meeting was Dr Deborah Kearns, the Stort Valley & Villages locality (we are one of five practices in this locality) lead who sits on the Clinical Commissioning Group board; she gave a presentation about the make-up of the CCG, its remit for the Commissioning of services and the likely local impact.
As a consequence of discussions and recommendations by the group at the meetings a number of initiatives have been agreed and undertaken by the practice to improve either services or communication. These include the installation of an automated arrivals check-in system at Church Street surgery; the installation of an automated blood pressure machine (which prints results for the patient) at Church Street surgery thus reducing the number of patients needing to make an appointment with a Clinician for such a test; large posters at all 3 sites detailing exactly what conditions can be treated by the practice nurses with a view to more patients seeing a nurse rather than a doctor and standardised name badges worn by all staff.
Two further initiatives are to be undertaken shortly. One is to improve the merchandising at all 3 sites enabling patients to more easily be aware of the various messages being cascaded on posters and notices. We also are about to undertake major reconfiguration changes to the back office and reception area at Church Street surgery with a view to improving our telephone handling which was highlighted in the survey undertaken by the group.
The group undertook a comprehensive patient survey in November/December; the questions were agreed between the all parties and aimed primarily on ascertaining patients views on our services. The 2 main questions sought patient’s views on what they liked about the practice and what they didn’t like about the practice. In total, 10 questions were included on the questionnaire.
The Patient Group Reference members sat in the waiting rooms of all 3 sites over a two to three week period and went through the questionnaire encouraging patients to complete these whilst they were at the surgery. In total just under 400 questionnaires were completed.
The responses have been comprehensively summarised and the responses to the two main questions detailed above are as follows:
Patients liked – Professionalism of the doctors, nurses and practice staff in all 3 sites; the Open Access facility at Haymeads Health Centre; the internet and automated appointment booking system; the Saturday morning and Wednesday evening surgeries at Haymeads Health Centre; the flu vaccination reminders; the free parking at Thorley Health Centre and the café next to Haymeads Health Centre.
Patients didn’t like – the lack of appointment availability; the telephone answering; patients can only book 1 appointment on line with a doctor and none for a practice nurse; the lack of continuity of seeing the same doctor or having a choice of doctor; patients having to wait outside (particularly in winter) Herts & Essex Hospital (for Haymeads Health Centre) before 8.00am because the hospital doors do not open until that time; privacy in the reception area and difficulty for patients with buggies using stairs at Church Street surgery; children should be fast tracked at Open Access and finally, the drabness of Thorley Health Centre.
The partners have discussed with the Patient Reference Group the responses to the questionnaire and agreed actions based on the feedback, in particular addressing or improving, where possible, the services identified in the “Didn’t like” section.
The actions we have already undertaken or propose undertaking are:
1. Appointment availability.
- An additional GP, Dr Sian Stanley, joined the practice in mid February.
- We are currently advertising for an additional practice nurse; this will give us more scope for patients to have an appointment with a nurse when appropriate rather than a doctor.
- We have purchased an automated blood pressure machine which is based in the waiting room at Church Street surgery; appointments for this service are no longer required.
- A neighbouring practice is about to trial a new appointment system; if this is successful we may adopt a similar system.
We believe we are one of only two practices in Hertfordshire that has three surgeries open all day, every day. Our doctors are rostered around all three including undertaking duty doctor responsibilities at Haymeads Heath Centre. They acknowledge that continuity of care is a challenge but endeavour to provide this as much as possible.
Unfortunately we can not offer practice nurse appointments on line as the range of procedures they undertake require varying appointment length times.
Statistics highlight that the longer ahead appointments can be booked, or multiple appointments made for the same patient, result in a higher level of DNAs (did not attend). For this reason we only book appointments 2 weeks ahead and limit internet bookings to a maximum of one per patient.
2. Telephone answering.
- An automated appointment booking system has already been installed for routine appointments with a doctor at either Church Street Surgery or Thorley Health Centre.
- A major reconfiguration of the back office at Church Street surgery is about to commence. More staff will have their workstations in this area to support better response times for answering incoming telephone calls.
3. Our three surgeries.
- We will place a notice in the Church Street surgery entrance which has stairs to the reception floor advising that same level entry is available from Church Street.
- There are already notices on all reception desks advising patients that if a greater degree of privacy is required patients should advice the receptionist accordingly.
- Some refurbishment will be undertaken at Thorley Health Centre during the year. At Church Street surgery we have already improvements to the entrance from Church Street.
Access to Haymeads Health Centre is determined by the opening hours of Herts & Essex Community Hospital. Unfortunately, for security reasons, they do not open their doors until 8.00am.
The partners will discuss further with the Group the concept of children being seen as a priority at Haymeads Health Centre. This needs to be balanced against the requirements of other patient’s needs, in particular patients needing to get to work as soon as possible.
Church Street surgery Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm
Thorley Health Centre Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6.30pm
Haymeads Health Centre Monday – Friday 8.30am – 1.00pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Wednesday evening 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Saturday morning 8.15am – 11.30am
Patient Participation Group Report 2011/12
In September, for the purposes of attracting a representative patient group, we prepared a patient group contact form incorporating 6 age group categories namely:- under 20, 20-34, 35-49, 50-64, 65-79 and over 80 and also 5 ethnicity groups :- White, Mixed, Asian or Asian British, Black or Black British & Chinese or other ethnic group. Our objectives were to ensure that a diverse group of patients were recruited.
Bishops Stortford (population circa 39,000) is an historic market town which has seen huge population growth during the last 25 years because of the close proximity to and development of Stansted airport and nearby excellent transport links; it is also a commuter town with direct rail access into Liverpool Street station taking around 40 minutes.
We have very few patients residing in nursing/residential care homes and comparatively few patients of retirement age as demonstrated by the difference between our actual and weighted list size.
Coloured A3 PPG recruitment posters were displayed in prominent positions at all 3 of our sites together with notices and sign up forms on each reception desk and in waiting rooms. A dedicated patient group page was added to our website, a coloured Patient Group tab was applied to the home page to highlight the page to users of this service. The page incorporated the notice and a downloadable sign-up form. Similar messages were displayed on our Jayex display screen at Haymeads Health Centre and our automated arrivals screen at Thorley Health Centre. More recently we have provided an article to feature in The Observer; this detailed the Group and stated that we were still looking to recruit members, particularly patients under the age of 40.
Our clinicians and reception staff were tasked with proactively promoting the PPG and giving out the sign up forms and accompanying newsletter.
Over the next few weeks we signed up in excess of 50 patients which was the figure we had in mind before organising our first meeting.
To date we have 67 patients in the PPG (including 1 Carer representing a patient); the ethnic and age breakdown is as follows:-
All are white British with the exception of 2 patients who are Indian.
Males - under 20 = 0, 20-34 = 1, 35-49 = 3, 50-64 = 7, 65-79 = 8 & over 80 = 5.
Females - under 20 = 1, 20-34 = 3, 35-49 = 15, 50-64 = 10, 65-79 = 13 & over 80 = 1.
At the beginning of December sufficient patients had been recruited to arrange our initial meeting but, because of the build up to the Christmas festivities, it was deemed appropriate to defer this meeting until the New Year. We have now had 3 meetings with the PPG; the dates were 10th January, 7th February & 6th March.
The initial meeting primarily involved a presentation to the group by Dr Davis.
We shared with the group our two patient surveys undertaken in March and November 2011. The group were happy to adopt the second of these as their survey to fulfil the DES requirements.
Many of the survey questions were based on known issues to the practice and also we used similar questions to those contained in the DOH questionnaire relating to access. We also needed to ascertain the views of our patients on our Open Access Surgery at Haymeads Health Centre and also their preferred site to see a clinician.
Over a period of three to four weeks every patient visiting any of our sites was given a questionnaire to complete. Just under a thousand were completed and the results were summarised and made available to the PPG. We firmly believe these volumes are sufficient to accurately reflect the views of our patients. We have retained all the questionnaires from both surveys undertaken.
The summarised results were shared at our initial PPG meeting; it was agreed that the content would be considered and actions agreed at the next meeting which would be held within a calendar month. 73.6% of patients completing the questionnaire wanted to continue or expand the Open Access arrangement at Haymeads Health Centre and 56.2% chose Thorley Health Centre as their preferred site to see a GP.
At the second and third PPG meetings, through an informal process of discussion with the group members, a number of initial actions were agreed.
i) to improve communication between the practice and our patients by making better use of our website to publish news about the practice i.e. change of personnel to the clinical team, annual newsletter, system/technology changes etc
ii) to review the telephone answering message with a view to condensing the introduction
iii) to meet with representatives of neighbouring practice’s PPGs
iv) to meet with a representative from the PCT to discuss funding for the practice
v) for members from the “core” group to visit the practice to enable them to have a better understanding of the “modus operandi”
vi) to review our appointment system
vii) publicise more effectively conditions that the practice nurses can treat
viii) better advertise our open access service at Haymeads Health Centre
All of the above actions have been agreed with the PPG and will be actioned.
Already the telephone message has been reviewed and condensed. We have spoken to neighbouring practices regarding their PPG representatives meeting with ours; they are agreeable and will now liaise with their groups. A meeting will be arranged as soon as possible. An invitation has been sent to the PCT for a representative to attend a meeting with the core group. Notices are at all sites detailing conditions our practice nurses treat. The article that featured in The Observer highlighted the open access service at Haymeads Health Centre; since the feature more patients than usual have used this service.
• Church Street Surgery
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm
• Thorley Health Centre
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6.30pm
• Haymeads Health Centre
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 12.00 & 1.30pm – 5.00pm
Wednesday evening 6.30pm – 9.00pm (pre-booked appointments only)
Saturday 8.15am – 11.30am (pre-booked appointments only)
Our telephone lines are open Monday - Friday 8.00am – 6.30pm (657636)
The Out of Hours number is 03000 333333