PPG Meeting Minutes – Thursday 21st December 2023

The minutes of the meeting held on 24th August were approved, there were no matters arising.

Apologies, welcomes and introductions

The Chair introduced and welcomed Dr Alice Fenton, RPC GP Fellow for Population Health who would open the meeting with an explanation of her role and aims.

Practice Update

  • Dr Fenton shared that she is hoping to establish clinics or workshop groups to target weight loss which would improve many clinical parameters including blood pressure, pre-diabetes, joint pain, back pain and mental health.Her plan is to send a questionnaire to the patient population to help determine the kind of service they would prefer, circulating it to the PPG beforehand for comments.

Questions would include whether people would like groups to meet:

  • In age categories
  • By gender – male, female or mixed
  • On-line or face to face

Dr Fenton asked the group for feedback about what constraints might prevent patients in the different groups attending a weight loss clinic and expected answers to vary depending on age, childcare needs, costs and whether there would be a demand for further workshops on topics such as meal planning, budgeting, even using phones or laptops to help people organise their lives and overcome barriers that might prevent them accessing advice through social issues including deprivation.

Feedback from members will be used to help inform decisions about how the clinic could be ran. Dr Fenton mentioned some interesting podcasts about ultra-processed food  by Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tullien on BBC Sounds here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0017tcx?partner=uk.co.bbc&origin=share-mobile

  • The practice shared recent changes that had been made to call handling and appointments management. A central phone room had been created to house call handlers. The number of calls received between 8:0 – 10:00 was far more than could be accommodated so in future non-emergency calls received during that time will be recorded and phoned back after 10:00. This would free up lines for on-the-day emergency appointment callers.

A call-back facility had also been introduced: patients had to press the hash tag (#) after two minutes to request a call back.

Some of the changes had been mandated by NHS England i.e. offering appointments within two weeks. Urgent on-the-day appointments for those who need to be brought in quickly for a major issue are to be 10 minutes with
continuity appointments 15 minutes to make the most of patient contact.

These changes have been phased in over the last four weeks and initial statistics indicate they have enabled an extra 200 calls to be answered between 8-10 a.m. with an average call wait time of around 10 minutes.

Appointment capacity has been boosted by the appointment of additional GPs in Fellowship roles and there are more in the pipeline. Recruiting has gone well, unusual in primary care at present with the result that there have been less complaints about access

  • The practice are aware that even though call waiting times have improved they are still keen to hear what patients think of the service, so the practice are implementing a quarterly survey that they will send out to patients who have had appointments within the last 3 months asking for patients about generic feedback of the service ad=nd how they found accessing the service amongst a few other questions.
  • The practice shared the introduction of the Accurx web portal, funded by the ICB, had gone ahead to replace the Family Heath+ and some of the web forms previously available. This was done as a result of a NHS requirement that only approved platforms could now be used. Family Health+ had been developed locally at a time when little else was available and it was unable to link directly to clinical records. Accurx does this and so reduces the likelihood of error as it knows patient’s NHS numbers. It also streamlines processes for the reception team who no longer need to log into several platforms.
  • The practice advised that in line with NHS guidance the RPC website would be changing to a more corporate NHS look. There will also be a single website for RPC Chesterfield and Clay Cross with another for RPC Brooklyn as it is in a different PCN. This change will result in a cost saving for the practice and hopefully a better experience for patients using the website.
  • Dr Nathan had been filmed by ITV Calendar about healthcare over the Christmas period and how patients could help themselves with self-care or visiting a pharmacy rather than contacting their GP or going to ED – there had been cases of patients being offered appointments at RPC within two days but they had gone to ED at the hospital because they considered that was unsatisfactory. GP practices have been reticent to invite the media in because of their tendency to report negatively but RPC is looking to build on its relationship and work with the press and broadcasters for key messages.
  • The practice updated DNA figures which showed a decrease from October’s totals and hoped this trend would continue.

PPG Matters

  • The draft constitution had been circulated and the changes discussed one-by-one. All members present agreed that the draft be accepted.
  • AGM: It was agreed to postpone the AGM to the March 2024 meeting.
  • 2024 aims: The Chair said that the group had coped well throughout the Covid pandemic, far better than other PPGs, some of which had not held meetings. They thought that from now on our aims could include assisting the practice with such projects as Dr Fenton’s health and wellbeing clinics. Recruitment will be a priority in 2024.

Feedback on the Healthwatch Derbyshire PPG Best Practice Guide

The PPG Best Practice Guide from Healthwatch Derbyshire is in need of updating and has been circulated for member’s comments. It is intended to be used by all PPGs in the county so is an important document as PPGs currently vary considerably in their activities, how they meet and how often etc. The Chair asked for feedback as soon as possible to meet Healthwatch Derbyshire’s deadline.

Questions for the practice

One member asked about a particular incident relating to the complaints procedure and the practice advised that it had been raised with the relevant practice manager and outlined the complaints procedure to the group.

One member asked about whether re-order dates for repeat prescriptions could be re-synchronised if they had ‘slipped’ due to medication shortage or delivery delay. The practice said that this would need to be done by the in-house pharmacy team.


One member mentioned how they had seen two junior doctors shadowing a receptionist to observe her working and how good it was to see. The practice said that they also visited the phone room to observe call handling and saw other administrative procedures to understand how a practice works.

The Chair wished everyone, in particular RPC staff, a very Happy Christmas and healthy 2024 and closed the meeting.