As chair of my local GP surgery patient participation group, I conduct the two or three monthly meetings at the surgery where some nine or ten patients meet to reflect on the performance of the practice. The practice manager and a partner doctor - who attend to answer questions around the services offered - tell us of any complaints made by patients. We also carry out surveys of the patient comments on the practice performance.
It is very rewarding as the practice has around 14,000 patients who benefit from the smooth professional performance of the doctors, who themselves hear of patient needs.
The NHS is undergoing continuous change. To support these changes they hold workshops on subjects such as rehabilitation for cancer patients and the approach to care for those with mental health problems. They are interesting, stimulating workshops that also provide contact with a wide range of health professionals, leading to valuable exchanges of information and views.
In the wider community there are groups of people who find access to the NHS difficult or sometimes impossible. Such as groups for those who do not speak English, groups with frequently changing addresses (such as travellers), minority ethnic groups with their own customs, and many more. The NHS try to be inclusive and address these groups in small, informal meetings which are facilitated by trained volunteers. Over ten weeks, the course taught approaches and techniques for the running of these meetings, and ended with a practical test with a small group. This experience is invaluable for mentoring and befriending patients, particularly in the London area where the population is so diverse. It was also a challenge!
I attend a variety of NHS workshops looking to improve patient experience and I have just completed a course on Facilitation and Engagement on behalf of the NHS. I want to keep my mind ticking and engaged and feel I have a lifetime of experience, so wish to contribute all I can, whilst I can!
It's been fantastic getting rewarding responses from many cancer patients needing to talk to someone. I feel that I am part of an organisation that knows what is needed and is determined to deliver it no matter how hard. And I have met so many incredible people, devoted to battling with the enemy, cancer. As an ex-army man, I feel proud to play my part.