National Patient Participation Group week, which runs from 31 May until 6 June, is an annual event to recognise the valued contribution patients can make to improve and enhance the quality of services provided at local GP practices.

Patients and carers are often first to spot an issue with the quality or provision of healthcare, and they often have great ideas how to make healthcare better.

Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) are groups of local residents, registered in the same GP practice, that use their personal experience of health and care services to influence the way a GP practice delivers their services. Their work is crucial to harness the voice of the patient in primary care and they have much to contribute through of their own patient experience.

Many PPGs across mid and south Essex have been successful in working with their GP practices and the Integrated Care Board to get insight from their communities, as well as implement improvements or changes.

In Thurrock, Viv Crouch, local Stifford Clays PPG member, went above and beyond with her dedication to her local surgery and the wider community. As part of the engagement work for locating a new Integrated Medical and Wellbeing Centre she was out on the street encouraging passers-by to complete the survey, ensuring there was real local insight.

In the Southend area, Chris Gasper, PPG chair of Central Surgery Southend; worked tirelessly during the engagement and procurement process to decide on the preferred options for a new Integrated Medical and Wellbeing Centre for the people of Shoeburyness.

Terry Clarke, a member of the Patient Participation Group for the Rushbottom Lane Surgery, said: 

“Becoming a member of a Patient Participation Group means you can do your part to influence and change the quality and design of services through your own patient experience.

PPG members are ideally placed not only to liaise with the surgery staff, but also with patients and to use their experiences to feed into the wider primary care network and voluntary sector services.

At Rushbottom Lane PPG, we work closely with both the GP practice and patients to address areas of concern together, such as making improvements to an old telephone service.  We are also able to advise patients of any updates or changes including the appointment of new doctors or facilities.

We now have our own private Facebook and WhatsApp groups which allows us to share information quickly. We also share updates and many articles regarding advancements in medical treatments, local health events and health and fitness activities, to benefit the health and wellbeing of our local community. 

Many PPGs, including Rushbottom Lane, sometimes find it hard to recruit new members to join the group. This is often because people are not aware of the group, or they do not know that they can be involved as much or as little as they want to. But those who do join soon realise the importance of being part of a patient group and the benefits it can bring. 

We welcome new members and are always looking for new volunteers to join us, so that they can bring their own patient experience to help us to improve the quality of services for all”. 

All GP practices have a Patient Participation Group, and anybody can join.

If you would like more information about Patient Participation Groups you can visit the National Association of Patient Participation (NAPP) website at

If you are interested in joining the Patient Participation Group at your GP practice, please contact your local practice manager or email