Patient Participation Group

PPG Minutes 220219

Fell Cottage Surgery

Patient Participation Group

Friday 22nd February 2019 at 1.00 PM

In Attendance

Patient Representation: Miss MH; Mr TS; Mrs BL: Mrs CH; Mr JB; Mr RH; Mr RL; Mrs DA; Mrs DM; Mrs RI; Mr TB

Practice Representation: Alison Arnell (Senior Receptionist); Sue Harrigan (Practice Manager)

After a round of introductions, the following topics were discussed:

Minutes of Previous Meeting & Matters Arising

The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted as a true record. The following matters were raised:

Children’s Corner

A separate table has been set up with toy puzzles for children. It was suggested that perhaps some paper and non-toxic crayons could be made available to keep children entertained. Alison will follow up on this.

Buzzer at Reception

A buzzer has been purchased and installed at reception for occasions when there is no member of staff at the desk.

Telephone Consultations

A query was raised about the possibility of making telephone consultations available for older patients (over 80s) who find it difficult to attend the surgery. It was indicated that some appointment slots have been changed to telephone consultations and patients can ask to be booked into these.

Other Issues

Telephone Triage

It was indicated that there has been a lot on the news about patient triage using Senior Nurses and the fact that in one Practice this had reduced consultations by around 250. Alison advised that staff have been trained to direct patients appropriately to other services or healthcare professionals. They do need to ask patients for information but, unfortunately, some people are not willing to provide this. There are plans to change the telephone message so that callers will be advised that they may be asked for details so that they can be directed to the correct service. A question was raised about what would happen if a member of staff felt the reason was ‘trivial’. It was highlighted that non-clinical staff would not make a clinical judgement but would have pathways to follow for different situations, eg:

  • They would work from a list of suitable problems to direct to Pharmacy, such as head lice, etc;
  • Patients could be advised about self-referral to the new musculoskeletal service for problems such as back pain;
  • Patients could be advised about self-referral to Talking Therapies for problems with low mood.

If there was any element of doubt – advice would be sought from another member of the team.

Telephone Access

The recent issues with the telephone system were acknowledged. Susan and Alison have had meetings with the telephone provider to discuss this and are hopeful that they have come up with plans to improve the situation. The Practice does experience a huge demand on the telephones and is looking at other ways to try to reduce this. These include the promotion of online access for booking of appointments and ordering repeat medications. It was mentioned that very few appointments seem to be available via the online service.

Alison mentioned that there were plans to have information provided to patients when holding on the telephone. This could point the patient in another direction rather than them holding on the telephone to book an appointment that may not be necessary.


An example of a different appointment system was shared with the meeting by a member of the PPG. She mentioned that she had heard of a Practice which had stopped all advance appointments as so many were being missed. What they did was ask patients to ring in a morning to book an afternoon appointment and ring in the afternoon for the next morning. It had been reported that this seemed to be working well for that Practice. Alison mentioned that the Practice does use a system of text reminders for patients who have signed up to receive them. They can also cancel appointments via the text alert so slots become available to others.

The availability of appointments at another local venue, referred to as ‘The Hub’ was mentioned. These are acute appointments offered at Prince Consort Road and some problems are not suitable to be seen there. There is also a dressings clinic available at a weekend. Appointments are offered between 8am and 8pm on weekdays, and also on a Saturday and Sunday. PPG members felt that this was not very well advertised.

It was noted that due to the telephone access issues, many patients were actually finding it was better to come to the surgery to make their appointment. Pre-bookable appointments were discussed and it was agreed that the Practice would look at the possibility of offering appointments more than 2 weeks in advance.

TV in Waiting Room

The Practice is currently waiting to hear when work will be carried out to install a screen in the waiting room. This will enable greater promotion of different services and provide more information to patients.

A request was made for a daily list of GPs to be displayed. It was also suggested that a notice to advise that a GP was running late would be helpful to patients.


The closure of the dedicated ordering line was mentioned. Alison explained that there had been some incidents with requests left on the answer machine which the Practice had felt had safety implications. It was for this reason that this had been closed. When patients ring in to order prescriptions there is now an option to retrieve a call if there are any doubts or discrepancies noted.

Some medications can be moved onto ‘repeat dispensing’ which means that a number of prescriptions, probably for up to 6 months, are issued at one time and sent to the Pharmacy to be held there. The patient then needs to contact the Pharmacy when they are running low and the medication can be dispensed for them. Plans are in place to move patients to this system if they are stable on a regular medication. Regular prescription ordering can also be done by Pharmacies – patients should ask at their usual pharmacy if they are interested in this.


Alison and Susan acknowledged that things do not always go to plan in the Practice. At the moment the team is very stretched due to staff vacancies, etc but we are all doing our very best to offer a good service for our patients.

Next Meeting

It was agreed that meeting on a quarterly basis would be acceptable. The next meeting will be scheduled for May 2019.