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Conference encourages more Birmingham patients to make a difference

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Patients, carers and health professionals in Birmingham are being invited to take part in a city-wide event on 18 February aimed at promoting greater patient involvement in the NHS.

The Birmingham Patient Participation Groups' (PPGs) 2015 Conference will bring together all those with an interest in helping to improve services at their local GP practice.

The event, which follows the inaugural conference a year ago, has been organised by the Birmingham PPG Chairs' Forum, PPG members and volunteers. It is being supported by Birmingham CrossCity Clinical Commissioning Group.

A PPG is a patient representative group – run by patients, for patients. Groups work collaboratively with their local GP practice to highlight and discuss issues that may not be working well, or just need improving. This might include, for instance, appointment systems, prescription ordering, premises issues, service delivery, to name but a few.

The conference will look at subjects such as how PPGs can offer an effective way for patients to become involved in their GP practice, and the support available for setting up a new PPG.

There will also be a chance to hear about 'Aspiring to Clinical Excellence (ACE)' – a programme running across the Birmingham CrossCity CCG area that aims to ensure all the CCG's patients have access to the same high-quality primary care services.

Anne Care, Chair of the PPG Chairs Forum, said: "PPGs have an important part to play in working with practices to make real changes. As patients, we tend to moan about things but rarely get involved in problem solving. PPGs can be the platform for raising awareness of patient issues, as well as giving patients an opportunity to find out what's going on in the practice and the wider NHS.

"We organised our first PPG conference last February in conjunction with Birmingham CrossCity CCG. The event was so successful, with more than 90 delegates taking part, that this year we've increased the number of places to 125. The enthusiasm for PPG involvement is so great that our aim now is to increase the number of PPGs across the Birmingham CrossCity CCG area by supporting the development of new ones, along with mentoring and training PPG chairs.

"I'd strongly recommend to anyone who's not yet a PPG member to come along to the conference to find out what it's all about. There'll be a chance to meet other people, and to hear examples of what can be achieved by a small enthusiastic group of patients with the support and involvement of their practice team."

The conference is open to patients, carers, existing PPG members, GPs and all GP practice team members, along with staff from clinical commissioning groups.

Birmingham CrossCity CCG Chair, Dr Gavin Ralston, said: "I hope patients and staff from across Birmingham take the opportunity to attend this event. It's a great opportunity to learn more about what PPGs do and how they can influence the development of surgeries across the city.

"PPGs play an extremely valuable role, giving people the chance to have their say about local services. I'd encourage as many people as possible to belong to a PPG, so each group can really represent the patients who use the surgery. They can then provide valuable advice and guidance which can help ensure that the services provided are really well suited to the patients that use the practice."

The conference takes place on Wednesday 18 February at the Saffron Centre, 256 Moseley Road, Birmingham. It runs from 2pm to 6pm, with a hot buffet and refreshments available at 5pm. Entry is free by ticket only – places can be booked online at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ppg-annual-conference-tickets-14801811617?aff=es2&rank=1, or by calling 0121 255 0828.

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