PPGs continued to be busy throughout October with several meetings taking place and many groups supporting their GP practice’s annual flu and/or covid vaccination programme. Many thanks to everyone involved in the vaccinations, you are making a huge difference in keeping people well this winter!

We’ve been working with several GP practices this month to help reboot PPGs that have been on hiatus in recent times, we’re really pleased to see the appetite from practices to engage with their patients! We’re hoping that with 2023 round the corner, this next year will be a bumper one for PPGs!

One subject that has been raised by several PPG members this month is how to support people to get access to warm spaces this winter. Following these queries, we contacted Help and Kindness, who are collating and sharing the warm places available in the county. Along with warm spaces they also have information on community lunch/meals, affordable or emergency food, affordable clothing and information & advice. More information.

In North Dorset, the Grove Surgery PPG met face to face for the first time in several months and were delighted to welcome some new PPG members. The lead GP and practice manager led an extremely interesting tour of the practice and answered PPG members’ questions along the way. The tour was very much appreciated by everyone who attended!

The Weymouth & Portland Digital Volunteers were in the spotlight this month. Jim and Sue Brunt, a PPG Chair and Lead Digital Volunteer, were invited to speak at Dorset Council’s annual celebration of digital innovation called ‘Festival of the Future’. They highlighted the way digital volunteers are helping people access their healthcare records, test results and prescription ordering online, which frees up GP practice telephone lines for people less confident using the internet. The digital volunteer service also started at the practice on Portland at the end of October, meaning that all six GP practices in Weymouth and Portland now have digital volunteers!

At the October meeting of the Westbourne Medical Centre PPG, the group remembered with fondness their late Chair, Sue Fortescue, and gave their warm thanks for all Sue’s dedication and hard work as PPG Chair. Sue was a wonderful lady with a huge zest for life and will be much missed.

The Portesham and Prince of Wales GP practices are set to merge in 2023, and ahead of this there were information events held by the practices where people could come along, learn more about the merger and ask any questions. PPGs at both practices were on hand to promote the groups and give a patient-perspective on the merger.

Gill hosted another enjoyable and lively meeting with the North Dorset PPG Chairs network. The group is made up of PPG Chairs from the three North Dorset Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and provides a valuable basis for the Chairs to share experiences and knowledge. It’s brilliant that the PPGs are able to network in this way!

Following a conversation with a PPG member Jim went along to a new support group being set up by the New-Man prostate cancer support group. The new sub-group gave an opportunity for people to share their experiences in a supportive environment. More details about the group.

Jim and Gill went along to another meeting of the PPG Energisers’ group hosted online by NHS England. The group has been renamed the “PPG Champions group” with PPG members coming along from all around the country. Anyone who is a PPG member, or would just like to find out more, is most welcome to attend, please do just email bethany.golding1@nhs.net to find out more.

Gill went along to the Dorset Parent Carers Council event held at Kingston Maurward. The event was aimed at providing support for parent carers and there were a lot of support organisations there, which was great to see, and some extremely valuable insights learned and shared.

Gill also attended the October Socially Connecting Shaftesbury event in the Town Hall. This was an incredibly valuable opportunity to have conversations with people we wouldn’t normally reach, signposting and connecting attendees to different support organisations depending on their need. It’s so important for us at NHS Dorset to have a presence and to be able to listen to and work with people and communities. We were able to connect with groups and organisations we haven’t met before, building important relationships, connections and trust, as well as the chance to network with groups we do know, further strengthening our existing partnerships.

Outside of work Jim indulged in one of his passions – going to the cinema! Of the films he saw the best was The Woman King, a story about a group of all female warriors in 19th century Africa. He also had his 15 minutes of fame – appearing in an article in the Daily Telegraph about moving to Dorset!

Gill’s not-so-little grandson Orlando celebrated his first birthday in the middle of the month. His Italian grandparents and aunties were visiting from Milan, so Gill’s daughter and son-in-law decided to have their son baptised at the same time to make the most of the Italian family visit. It was a truly wonderful family celebration!

We hope you all remembered to put your clocks back last weekend (unlike Gill who put hers forward by mistake 😊).

As we move further into the Autumn with the nights drawing in, we appreciate even more all the support from our PPGs who continue to forge ahead, meeting in their groups and networks often in jolly inclement weather! Thank you all for everything you do in helping us to share important health related information, we are so very grateful to you all.