Championing the patient voice at the General Practice at Scale conference

I volunteered (at fairly short notice) to attend the General Practice at Scale conference, organised by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and NHS England, to speak about the way that NHS Leeds West CCG involves patient leaders/champions.

I was in London the day before, so stayed over and arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the meeting venue – which was the Friends Meeting House. I wasn’t too aware of the work being done on “GP at Scale”, so I had done a bit of homework by reading a research report – you can read it here: www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/bigger-better-lessons-large-scale-general-practice

Having done so, it was clear that there was some activity going on in our CCG area (e.g. the Ireland Wood “Hub”) – I had just not recognised the term. I don’t think this activity is being driven by the RCGP programme, though.

After a very nice coffee, we got underway. The first two sessions were basically a review of where the RCGP had got to in its programme and a summary of the research report I had just read!

The report basically outlines how over three quarters of GP practices are now working with other practices to deliver services ‘at scale’. There is some argument that this partnership approach helps practices to withstand pressures such as falling funding and workload shortages. The jury is out for patients with some concerned about losing their relationship with their local GP and others excited about new ways to access care.

Then it was me. Somewhat trepidatiously I took the platform and found that all the IT was working! The audience (of about 150 of which 90% were GPs) were very kind to me – I made a joke about how being in the presence of so many doctors made me feel healthier already – and they laughed!

I told the story of how patient champions are involved in our CCG (thanks to Chris and Adam for putting together a good presentation). I also spoke about the work being done by the CCG’s communications and engagement team in supporting patient participation groups (PPGs). This gave me an opportunity to share case studies about the Patient Empowerment Project and the excellent work being done by the Leigh View PPG.

I finished by issuing a plea (or was it a challenge?) that as we move forward with implementing GP at scale (however that is done), then it is absolutely vital that we take “The Voice of the Patient” with us! – I got applause! Wow! That felt good – I think I am going to be a stand-up! I then answered loads of questions on the details of how we had done the various things I had described, and received some good suggestions on how to encourage young people to join PPGs (which I had said I found difficult).

Following me was a break, and my last slide stayed on the screen for 20 mins – as this was Chris’s contact details, it’s my fault if his mailbox gets full!

We then had various presentations and break-out sessions on how to move the programme forward; and I was very pleased to have my presentation referenced a number of times during the day – it must have had some effect! I will not go into details here, but if anyone wants a copy of the (very detailed) slides, let me know and I will forward them when I get them.  You can contact me through NHS Leeds West CCG: leedsccg.comms@nhs.net