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Research Paper Open Access
Background: Patient and public involvement in the
development of health services is central to current government
policy. In 2011 new financial incentives were introduced to
promote the establishment of Patient participation groups
(PPGs) which led to an increase in the number of PPG groups
in England. PPGs are now well established in many practices.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore PPG
members’ views of the current and future challenges for Patient
Methods: Six focus groups were conducted with members
of PPGs (n=31). They were audio recorded and transcribed
verbatim. Qualitative analysis followed established principles
with data coded and recoded into categories and themes.
Results: Beyond acting as a conduit for patient feedback
and as advisors to their practices, there was variation and some
confusion about the roles of PPGs. All groups struggled to
engage the interest of the patients they purport to represent.
Their ability to improve quality of care was limited by several
factors including the information available to them, their ability
to interpret it, their perceived remit, and their relationship with
the practice team. Many participants foresaw a future expanded
role in relation to commissioning but this had yet to be defined
Conclusions PPG members are willing and eager to
contribute to service development at practice level. However,
their roles were confined by the boundaries within which they
were able to operate. Government policy literature and funding,
through the Direct Enhanced Service payment, advocates input
from patients into primary care. Yet this research demonstrates
limitations in the support PPGs are able to provide to surgeries.
Patient participation, primary care, patient involvement, patient participation groups, focus groups, qualitative., Quality in Primary Care Advanced concepts in primary care Primary care clinic management Innovative primary care