A good news story from the NHS…and plaudits for patient involvement

Please do not snort derisorily and mutter darkly about the impossibility of such a thing. On a damp Wednesday evening, about forty people gathered to celebrate a small, but for the GP practice involved, very significant achievement. The venue was a brand new surgery, replacing an unsuitable, somewhat ramshackle building from which the practice had operated for many years.

The search for a new surgery site had been a real challenge, for the small town of Sandy lacked other suitable accommodation. Converting previous offices was a protracted, complex and expensive affair – including the installation of a lift to enable patients to access the facilities on the first floor. Among the difficulties they had encountered was a reluctance by Openreach to provide an adequate broadband connection to the new surgery! All resolved in the end.

However, with the smell of fresh paint still permeating and a few finishing touches yet undone, it was time to formally open the new surgery. After some friendly mingling – a lot of those attending also knew each other from other community groups, the senior partner, Dr Jonathan Graffy, called those assembled to order and thanked everyone, from designers and builders through to the staff, who had worked incredibly hard to bring a dream to a reality. In particular, he paid tribute to the work of the Patient Participation Group, (PPG) whose enthusiasm for the project had been so important. The PPG had lobbied widely, including NHS England and the local Clinical Commissioning Group – refusing to give in as they fought to get much better facilities for the surgery they all valued so greatly.

The Chair of the PPG explained that, with the stalwart backing of all those on her committee, she had felt really involved in the project and that their input had been listened to by the doctors – leading to some details such as better soundproofing in the Reception area and attractive art works to enhance the new building. The final speaker was the local Member of Parliament, Alistair Burt, who had also been deeply involved since the inception of the project; he expressed his delight at being able to formally open such an impressive health surgery.

Only a small story but when we hear so much about problems, difficulties and dilemmas in the NHS, it is important to remember that there are also successes – and that engagement with your stakeholders is the key to getting the very best results.

About the Author

Elizabeth’s career has taken her from teaching, through work in the public affairs industry and into the world of public consultation and engagement. As a Director of the Institute, she has helped to develop many of its unique products and services since 2003.

She is the joint author, with Rhion Jones, of “The Art of Consultation”. She has researched widely on the subject – both for material for training courses and in order to deliver presentations and executive briefings, particularly on the impact of the law.

Read more about Elizabeth

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