We seem to say this every time but the last month seems to have shot past in the blink of an eye and we’ve been kept very busy by our fantastic Patient Participation Groups (PPGs)! The month started with PPG week – a huge thank you to everyone who promoted this, helping to raise the importance of PPGs in the community.

We attended a number of PPG meetings this month, all had packed agendas! Jim attended the Milton Abbas group meeting for the first time and joined in the discussions about patients who didn’t attend appointments (DNAs) and the possibility of promoting digital services to patients. The Cross Road PPG welcomed their new practice manager, Jane Dawes, and it was fantastic to see partners of the practice joining in the meeting too.

Several PPGs have been busy working with their practices to put ideas into action this month. Prince Of Wales PPG led the practice’s Strollers group, which encourages people to get out of the house and go for a walk with a chance to make new friends, get some exercise and have a cup of tea at the end. The PPG also have a digital champion based in the practice – he is looking to expand the service to other practices in the area and recruit more digital champions, which will enable more people to get digital support in their surgery.

Bridges PPG brought back their pre-diabetes talks by popular demand where diabetic dietitian Isi Hooley helped answer questions people had about the condition and dispel myths about food people can’t have. The PPG also worked with their practice to create a DNA questionnaire, to better understand why people miss GP appointments and work out if any changes can be made to reduce the number of missed appointments in the future. A template of this questionnaire will be shared soon.

A photo of Jim and Nola smiling

One topic that is discussed frequently at PPG meetings is getting views from younger people. There are some standout groups that have achieved this but many struggle to recruit and keep younger members. We’ve attended a youth representatives group this month and are speaking to local colleges about getting younger voices heard on PPGs, we’ll keep you posted on our progress

The Purbeck PPG Chairs network met for their quarterly meeting and shared the activities being carried out by each of the six PPGs across the Primary Care Network (PCN) as well as updates from their practices. The Youth PPG in Purbeck is still going well with a small membership but which they hope to increase. The current theme the group is working on is information sharing, and they are setting up an Instagram account to which important health information can be uploaded.

The Grove PPG in Sherborne received a very helpful and interesting presentation from the managing partner on a new online consultation system which the practice has put in place. It was great to see sixth form pupils from the local school in attendance, giving their views and perspective on behalf of young people. Gill also went to the Penny’s Hill PPG meeting in Ferndown and was really pleased to see how well the new PPG is thriving with lots of patients at the meeting!

We attended the launch of the Weymouth Research Hub in June. The Hub is an exciting initiative that encourages the residents of Dorset to be at the forefront of vaccine development (including Covid). Keep a lookout for invitations to be part of the research. More information.

Gill hosted the bi-monthly network meeting of the North Dorset PPG Chairs, where the PPG Chairs from the three North Dorset PCNs meet to share discussions and updates from their PPG meetings and news from their individual practices. The following day we hosted another networking meeting, this time the Cross-PCN group – these are PPG leads who may be the only PPG representatives within their PCNs. It’s been so useful to put them in touch with other PPGs outside of their PCN area, so they can share information and learn from other groups.

Corfe Castle PPG was delighted to restart their very popular Health Talks, the first one on the subject of Ophthalmology – A Modern Approach to Common Eye Problems, which Gill attended and found incredibly interesting!

Gill ended the month by co-hosting a PPG stall at a Pan Dorset Health Information Event in Swanage, with the Swanage PPG Chair. It was lovely too that two other PPG Chairs from Corfe Castle and Wareham came along and lent their support to this brilliant event.

Outside of work Jim watched his wife sing in a choir for the Archbishop of Canterbury in Weymouth, went to the Wessex Folk Festival and enjoyed a couple sea swims. Gill had a lovely week’s holiday in Fuerteventura with her husband, sister and brother-in-law, and later in the month visited Cardiff with her younger daughter to see the singer Harry Styles – you’ll see from the photo that a great time was had by all!

As always, we end our blog by sending our heartfelt and sincere thanks to all our PPGs across Dorset for all your help and support – we really couldn’t do it without you!

A photo of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Weymouth with the Rock Choir