A responsible patient - the part we can play

Charlotte Bonser, foreground, and PPG members gather at The Market Cross
Charlotte Bonser, foreground, and PPG members gather at The Market Cross

by Charlotte Bonser, Chairman of Leighton Buzzard Patient Participation Group Network

In February 2013 the Leighton Buzzard PPG Network was formed with two representatives from each of the four LB Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) representing patients from the four doctor’s surgeries.

These groups work with the GP practices to influence and improve patient experiences. The aim is to have a bigger voice for the 40,000 patients in the town.

Since then, among other things, we have been campaigning for a better Out of Hours service which, at present, is provided by an outside agency, and more patient friendly appointments within each surgery.

Whilst we will keep representing the patients, in this article we feel that perhaps we should give readers some facts from the doctor’s point of view.

In one surgery alone, from January to June 2014, an average of 300 people per month did not arrive for their appointment with the doctor/nurse.

Most of us now have a mobile phone and all four surgeries have internet appointment booking/cancelling facilities so there is no reason why this should happen. Three hundred wasted appointments is the equivalent of one doctor or nurse sitting in their room for one-and-a-half weeks seeing no one.

When PPG’s conduct patient surveys they are often told that there are not enough appointments at convenient times. In the same surgery survey, it was found that 50% of all A&E attendances were whilst the surgery was open, 8am-6.30pm. There will always be occasions when A&E is the obvious choice for a medical situation, but all four surgeries now have in place a system whereby, for urgent conditions, you will definitely be seen the same day.

If we can reduce the amount of wasted surgery appointments, and ease the strain on A&E departments, we may all find the experience of feeling unwell slightly less stressful.

Maybe you have a view? We would welcome your comments. To get in touch with the individual patient participation groups, please email as follows:

bassettroadppg@gmail.com - Bassett Road PPG

grpp@outlook.com - Grovebury Road PPG

irspatientrep@nhs.net - Leighton Road PPG

shsppg@outlook.com - Salisbury House PPG