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Patient groups and community networks

Patient participation groups (PPGs) are groups of patients linked with a GP practice. There are different forms of patient groups, some meet on a regular basis, some are virtual groups which mean that communication is mainly by email and most are a mixture of both.  They all vary in size.

Why should you join a Patient Participation Group?

Being a member of a patient group means that you can represent registered patients, provide feedback on the services the practice offers, help the practice make improvements and promote health and improved quality of care.  Patient groups work in partnership with practice staff.

This can mean reviewing the practice patient survey and working to develop an action plan to address any issues and to improve services. Many PPGs also produce practice newsletters, arrange health information sessions and some support the practice by signposting patients to other support services and networks.

To find out about your PPG and how to join one at your practice, check their website or contact the practice manager at your surgery.

The National Association for Patient Participation (NAPP) provides guidance around getting involved and joining your local PPG.

Find out more about NAPP

We are working with our PPI Committee to put together a local guide to developing an effective PPG. 

We will also work with local practices to support this development.  The draft guide is here - please give any comments to


GP practice patient groups (PPGs) involvement in Social Prescribing

The Patient participation group (PPG) at the Maltings Surgery in St Albans has played an active part in social prescribing since 2017.

The Herts Valleys community navigator service, along with the local CVS, trained 10 volunteers from the PPG (some who were new to the group) to deliver and lead weekly social prescribing clinics within the surgery, which GPs can refer patients to

The PPG volunteers had the tools to be able to signpost and refer patients to wider community universal services and voluntary sector organisations.

With such a strong relationship between the PPG volunteers and the community navigators, people who were identified as having complex or challenging social prescribing needs were then referred to the Community Navigator team who could then undertake a holistic social prescribing with the patient.

The positive impact of this initiative was evident with the following outcomes:

  • Increased wellbeing for vulnerable patients
  • Reduction in social isolation of vulnerable patients
  • More appropriate use of primary care
  • Reduction in the number of GP appointments for non-clinical reasons
  • Increased pool of patient volunteers actively volunteering within their GP practice
  • This model provides a source of ‘light’/’medium’ social prescribing support within GP practises, with ‘holistic’ social prescribing being provided by the wider community navigator service.

The Malting’s PPG are now sharing their expertise and experience with other PPGs across Herts Valleys

GP group consultations  - co-creation meetingpatients.jpg

On 18 July, a group of nearly 50 primary care clinicians, GP practice staff and patients from local patient participation groups came together to learn about group consultations and to set a shared ambition for the benefits that could be realised by their introduction 18 months’ time.

In response to the question,

“In 18 months’ time, when group consultations are up and running, what will be different for….”

The presentation slides are available here and the notes of the discussions here.

The session was filmed to share with those unable to attend the meeting, this is available here

Frequently asked questions about GP group consultations are available here


Patient and stakeholder engagement sessions

Normally at these sessions, patient and carers suggest topics that require more detailed discussions than is available in a short committee meeting.  The project lead is invited to give a brief presentation, give details of how people can influence the process and then feedback is taken from the group to use in future planning.  Invitations are sent out through our patient network, over 200 people, who then share the invites with their patient groups and other contacts. We average between 40 - 70 attendees at these events.  We also use these sessions to speak directly with patients about how we approach public involvement.

As actual engagement meetings are not possible at the moment we have arranged a schedule of virtual sessions so that we can keep our local networks updated and hear patient experiences and views first hand on the range of topics under discussion.

Virtual engagement meeting schedule

Tuesday 1 September 2020
Working with the voluntary and community sector during COVID and beyond
Video: here Slides: here Meeting chat: here 
Friday 11 September 2020
Recovery after COVID
Video: here    
Tuesday 15 September 2020
Update on GP Patient Participation Groups
Video: here    
Tuesday 22 September 2020
Memory Event
Video: here Slides: Dr Fernandes, Dr Tomar, David Pearce  
Wednesday 21 October 2020
Information on Herts Independent Living Service (HILS)
Video: here    
Friday 13 November 2020
Healthwatch Hertfordshire presentation on patient surveys conducted during COVID
Video: here Slides: here  
For more information visit:   Healthwatch Herts website
Monday 23 November 2020
Cardiac Rehabilitation session including: Impact of COVID 19 on cardiac rehabiliation
Videohere Slides: here  
Tuesday 1 December 2020
Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Review
Video: here Slides: here  
Tuesday 15 December 2020
Think NHS 111 First
Video: here
Slides: here


Wednesday 3 March 2021
Mental Health Services in Hertfordshire - children and adults
Simon Pattison, Head of Integrated Health and Care Commissioning Team | Working on behalf of East and North Hertfordshire CCG, Herts Valleys CCG, West Essex CCG and Hertfordshire County Council 
Deborah Sheppard, CAMHS Senior Commissioning Manager - Hertfordshire County Council    
Video: here Slides: here Information for children and young people about mental health and wellbeing during COVID 2021
Wednesday 21 April 2021
Virtual Consultations
Speaker: Alan Bellinger, Chair of The Maltings GP Practice Patient Group
Video: here Presentation: here  
Tuesday 11 May 2021
Speaker: Marc Williams, Arthritis Action
Video: here Presentation slides: here  
Thursday 13 May 2021
Cancer services
Speaker: Kathryn Cremins, Herts Valleys CCG
Video: here  Presentation slides: here  
Tuesday 25 May 2021
Diabetes update in west Hertfordshire
Speakers: Marie Ahern, Herts Valley CCG and Alan Bellinger, Chair of The Maltings GP Practice Patient Group
Video: here   Presentation slides: here  
Tuesday 8 June 2021
West Herts Virtual Hospital Model 
Speakers: Katy Healy, Amy Morris and Andy Barlow
Video: here  Presentation slides: here Link to Channel 4 news coverage Here


Meetings 2020/2019

3 February 2020 

Topics discussed:

Notes of the meeting is available here and feedback on the event here

8 October 2019

We held our last engagement session on 8 October at Greenwood Park, Chiswell Green St. Albans. 

The topics under discussion included


  • Adult community services
  • End of life and the 'D'word
  • Ear, nose and throat services
  • GP practice patient group incentive scheme

The notes and actions from the meeting are available here


24 July 2019 - Urgent Care


We held this meeting to provide information on the national and local context for urgent care, to share Herts Valley’s vision and to discuss local plans,  particularly in relation to NHS 111, GP led Urgent Treatment Centre at front of A&E and potential upgrading of St Albans Minor Injuries Unit.

 Urgent care.jpg

To access information from the meeting:





11 June 2019

This engagement session was held on 11 June 2019, 7 - 9pm at South Hill Centre, Hemel Hempstead, Herts.

  • GP Direct Access Ultrasound service

  • Dermatology

  • Moorfields Eye Hospital consultation

  • Adult Community Services

Agenda for this meeting is here

Presentation slides are here

Notes of the meeting here

To view a video of the presentations here


26 February 2019

  • GP econsultations
  • Ophthalmology and falls services
  • An update on GP practice patient groups
  • Introduction to the NHS App
  • Equality Delivery System 2

The agenda for this meeting is here

The slides from the meeting are available here

The notes of the meeting are here

For more information, contact


Patient Group Network

To support the patient groups from our local GP practices we have set up PPG networks to:

  • Share good practice.
  • Support and encourage the development of an active practice patient group in every GP practice in west Herts.
  • Link with individual practice patient groups.
  • To encourage each practice patient group to have a representative at their locality patient group (see below)

We currently have around 170 members of this developing network.

Read the group's terms of reference.

lets get connected.png



GP Practice Patient Group Network – ‘let’s get connected and support people to live well’


We held a network meeting discuss some initiatives that GP patient and community groups can get volved in to support people to live healthily. 

The agenda included examples of involvement in parkruns, healthwalks, social prescribing, preventing loneliness, well being, healthy eating and smoking cessation.  We started the meeting with a chair based exercise ‘taster’ and ended  with a dementia friends session (supporting patients living with dementia to live well). 

Date:               Monday 29 April 2019

Time:               9.45 – 2pm

Venue:            Stanborough Centre, St Albans Road, Watford,

Parking:          On site

Catering:         Sandwich lunch and refreshments provided (please advise on any dietary requirements)


For more information

The report of the meeting is here


Watford and Three Rivers Practice Patient Group Network

We held the first meeting of this local network on 12 March 2019, discussing practice social prescribing, good practice, working together and linking with community events such as park runs and healthwalks.

Around 30 people attended and the notes of the meeting are here

IMG_2779 Berkhamsted Castle.jpgWorking in partnership with Berkhamsted patient group


Berkhamsted patient group identified three frequently encountered health topics of particular relevance and concern to the local population: Diabetes, heart conditions and dementia.  The patient group set up an event committee, supported by Herts Valleys CCG, to run three information events based on these topics. 

The reports of the first two, Diabetes and heart conditions are available below: 


 Heart conditions

Involving people with learning disabilities

People with learning disabilities die between 17 and 22 years younger than the rest of the population and issues relating to access to healthcare are sighted as key reasons for this in the CIPOLD 2013 and LeDeR 2018 reports. It is  therefore key that the voices of people with learning disabilities and their carers / support workers are heard at PPG level.

Engagement needs to be meaningful rather than tokenistic and to gain meaningful engagement some reasonable adjustments will need to be made by the PPG’s

We are working with Learning Disability Specialist Nurses to help PPGs put measures in place to include patients with learning disabilities and their support workers  in their groups, planning and activities.  We are piloting this approach with four local GP practices initially and will then share what has been learnt and guidance through the rest of the PPG network – encouraging all practices to involve their patients with learning disabilities in their group.

117-1734_IMG.JPGLocality patient networks

There is a patient group in each of our localities - Watford and Three Rivers, Hertsmere, Dacorum, and St Albans and Harpenden. At the moment these groups normally meet for a couple of hours in the evening once or twice a month. Each area sends two representatives to the patient and public involvement (PPI) committee, which is a sub-committee of our board.

We would like to get more people involved in these local groups. We need people with all sorts of skills to get involved and are prepared to contribute to committees or are just passionate about improving health services.

For more information contact either Heather Aylward.

To see St Albans and Harpenden patient group newsletters, click here

West Herts Yammer network

yammer logo.pngThis site has been established to assist members of PPGS and other patient groups in west Herts to share information either across the network, within localities or in groups. The network itself was set up by our Patient and Public Involvement Committee to establish a patient network sharing good practice, supporting and encouraging the development of active patient groups in each GP practice and as a conduit for communication. 

The site is used to promote meetings and events, offer opportunities for engagement and for discussion between groups and individuals.

 If you would like to join the yammer network contact Heather Aylward.

Let's get connected

Bringing communities together – let’s get connected

Based on feedback from patients who wanted to know more about their local community- we hold events to bring together members of Practice Patient Groups (PPGs) with representatives from a range of community support groups and organisations to:

  • Raise awareness of local support groups, networks and organisations and the range of services on offer.
  • Encourage community involvement in patient groups and the wider health agenda: to promote involvement and opportunities to influence the way that local services are provided.

These events include market stalls from organisations such as Pets as Therapy, Carers in Herts, community transport and hospices together with ‘pop up’ presenters giving a short introduction to their organisation’s services.  We also managed to disprove the myth about not working with children and animals as we had both (babies and dogs) which added a new dimension to the discussions.

Read the report and feedback here from Let’s get connected on 28 November in Hemel Hempstead

 To find out more contact Heather Aylward

Let's get connected on death and dying

On Tuesday 3 March 2020 Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), in partnership with Anne Robson Trust held a ‘Let’s get connected’ session on death and dying. Numbers were restricted at the workshop,  however around 30 people attended.

The notes from the workshop are here


Pledge card front cover_WEB.jpg

Linking with our local communities

Hemel Rocks 2.JPGTo celebrate the NHS turning 70  we took part in Hemel Hempstead Rocks – distributing around 140 NHS70 rocks across the Dacorum area for people to find and including our twitter and facebook details to encourage local people to follow us. For more information click here



We also worked with a local primary school on a design for 10,000 pledge cards which we used to ask people to give something back to their local NHS - click here to find out more about the campaign.





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