Call to help improve health services in Swanage during time of change

A group of patients registered with Swanage Medical Practice, is calling for more people to join them to help change local health services for the better.

The patient participation group (PPG) at Swanage Medical Practice works with the practice manager and the GPs, to improve ways of working from the perspective of the patient, which is even more crucial during this time of change in the NHS.

Entrance of Swanage Medical Practice

The front door to Swanage Medical Practice

“As patients, we are best placed to talk to other patients”

Throughout National Patient Participation Week, which runs until Tuesday 6th June 2023, Swanage PPG has an information stand just inside the entrance to the medical practice. It’s an independent group made up of volunteers.

The stand is being staffed in the mornings for anyone who wishes to find out more about getting involved.

Chair of Swanage Medical Practice PPG Margaret Guy said:

“I’d really urge more patients, if they want to improve the quality of service, to join our group. Without hearing about people’s experiences, we cannot bring about change.

“As patients, we are best placed to talk to other patients about the service that they have received and to find out ways to do things better. It’s also about knowing what works well and feeding that back to the medical practice too.”

Please do get in touch if you’d like to contribute and help improve the quality of service for everyone. It’s a great way to do your bit to help others.”

Margaret Guy from Patient participation group at Swanage medical practice

Chair of Swanage Medical Practice PPG Margaret Guy

Allow patients to have their say

Since April 2015 all general practices in England have been required to have a PPG to allow patients to have their say. In Swanage the PPG meets once every two months at the medical practice and undertakes some key tasks:

  • Help improve communication between the practice and patients, as well as the wider community
  • Talk to patients about their experience of local health services
  • Feedback ideas and concerns
  • Advise the practice from the patient perspective
  • Carry out patient surveys
  • Help organise health awareness events
  • Raise funds to help improve the service provided by the practice
Study clinics are being held at Swanage Medical Practice

The waiting room at Swanage Medical Practice

Network of health professionals at the medical practice

Communication is key in a post Covid pandemic era, when change in the way GP surgeries work has been accelerated.

The number of partner GPs at Swanage Medical Practice has fallen from 12 to six in the last decade and in common with the rest of England it has become increasingly hard to retain partners as GPs retire.

By taking a flexible approach to patient care, the practice now has a network of health professionals who share the workload.

Swanage Medical Practice GP Dr Claire Hombersley said:

“People still want to see a doctor about their cough and we need to make the system more suitable. GPs are a bit over qualified to see coughs and colds and it’s better to get a different clinician to do that who can maybe afford to spend a bit more time with the patient.

“We have acquired lots of different roles in the practice, which is fantastic. We have other GPs who are salaried doctors, who do the job but not the management, two lovely locum GPs who do remote working for us, a retainer doctor and two GP registrars who are training to be GPs and might hopefully stay afterwards.

“We also have a new physician’s associate, Sarah, who has a nursing degree and is doing cervical smear tests, baby checks, minor operations, contraception, chronic disease management, basically all of the things GPs can do.”

Dr Claire Hombersley is leading the study at Swanage Medical practice

Dr Claire Hombersley says the medical practice is more than just GPs and is now a network of health professionals

“Able to do things in a more timely and efficient way”

There are physiotherapists in place who have been paid for by the Primary Care Network, a nurse who works solely in Purbeck care homes, a pharmacist who can deal with patients having problems with their medications, a nurse who specialises in respiratory issues and a nurse for diabetic patients, all of whom free up GPs for more complex cases.

Dr Claire Hombersley added:

“They all have their skills and it’s far better that we delegate to be able to do things in a more timely and efficient way. I hope that if patients know about this, they might understand and be able to use the service better.”

Patient participation group at Swanage medical practice

More about Swanage PPG is available at the information stand in the foyer of the medical practice until Tuesday 6th June 2023

Experience of patients in Swanage was generally positive

In April 2023 the Swanage PPG carried out a survey of patients at the medical practice and received 219 comments. According to the PPG, the experience of patients in Swanage was generally positive and much better than the national picture. The full results will be available soon.

Practice manager at Swanage Medical Practice Natasha Ritchie said:

“Thank you to our patient participation group, which is very supportive and helpful – raising awareness of the different skill mix of clinicians now available in our surgery.

“They have also helped shape our practice website and newsletter, so it is more user friendly to our patients.”

Further information

  • The next meeting of the Swanage PPG is at 6.30 pm on Tuesday 11th July 2023. Anyone who wishes to attend or join the group is invited to contact the practice manager Natasha Ritchie or email Swanage PPG
  • More about Swanage Medical Practice and the PPG

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