About the Patient Participation Group




The Patient Group was set up by the Medical Group in 2008: it is a panel of volunteers who wish to make a positive contribution to the services and facilities offered by the Practice to patients.  

The Medical Group Practice has 5 surgeries in Meadowfield, Esh Winning, Langley Park, Ushaw Moor and Tow Law and the Patient Group now has a membership of 18 spread across the Group. When we are able to hold face-to-face meetings we try to rotate the venues to ensure patients have an opportunity to attend their local meeting if they wish.

The Patient Group has had an input and helped effect change in a number of  areas. For example surgery opening hours, proposed automated telephone system, timings of the baby clinics and use of technology.

PPG Image

Prior to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic members of the Group helped with patient surveys by talking to patients in the surgeries. We also helped with a bowel cancer awareness survey as take up for the screening programme was a concern, and we helped identify the reasons for this. 

Over the years the Patient Group has been involved with a number of initiatives, for example organising fund raising events, raising money for a local hospice and for a new ECG machine for the Practice. Members of the Patient Group joined with Practice staff to take part in a Dementia Friends training session.

The Patient Group has been involved in raising patient awareness of wider issues in Co Durham, for example we have discussed the development of Shotley Bridge hospital, and concerns over the University Hospital of North Durham (UHND) A+E department 

The Covid 19 pandemic has meant the Group has not been able to meet face-to-face for the past 2 years but we have kept meeting via Zoom. The Practice Manager has kept us updated on local Covid 19 developments and how the Practice is responding.

We always welcome new members and information about the Patient Group can be found on the Group’s noticeboards located in the 5 surgeries. Our meetings for this year will be held on  (dates to be added)  and we look forward to welcoming you.

Please note that the purpose of the meetings is not to discuss issues affecting individuals. Any complaints are dealt with by the appropriate Practice policy.

Pat Rafferty
Patient Group Chair


Meeting Minutes: Wednesday 19th April 2023

  • When: 1pm via Zoom
  • Present: GM, JM, PR, TT, DT and JW. Lesley Hunter and Laura Elliott in attendance.
  • Apologies: JH
  • Minutes: Deborah Wilkinson

Minutes of the meeting 21st February 2023

The minutes of the last meeting were accepted as a true record and the following updates were given.

Pharmacy Technician

DT asked what Jennifer's role within the practice entailed and Mrs Hunter explained that the role mainly involves helping with audits and ensuring patients have the correct tests and follow up for certain medications i.e. bloods taken if needed for the medication being taken.

Abuse Towards Staff

Mrs Hunter confirmed that staff were still receiving abuse from patients and that Meadowfield staff do bare the brunt of this due to being the largest site however, it is also an issue for other practices in the local area and is partly a result of patient's frustrations in not being able to access appointments and long waits to be seen in hospitals due to demand and capacity issues since Covid. PR mentioned that when patients do arrive for appointments at the surgery she has had people say there is nobody there and it was suggested that the practice take a look at educating patients on the reasons for this.  

Social Prescriber

Laura Elliott, Social Prescriber joined the meeting to introduce herself and explain her role within the Practice. Laura explained that she joined at the end of January, and she supports patients who may be socially isolated, have long term conditions or financial issues and has longer appointments so that she is able to chat with patients on the telephone, face to face or even at home visit. She also supports patients within the local community which could involve attending a coffee morning with a socially isolated patient. Mrs Hunter explained that Laura works full-time and does a session at each of our five sites so that all patients have access to social prescribing. 

Enhanced Access Service

The enhanced access service will continue as it is. There will continue to be no access to the service on bank holidays or Sundays. Previously the service ran 365 days a year but the new contact dropped this approach and the service is now spread across the PCN area. Mrs Hunter explained that the practice struggled after the Easter period as there was no service to pick up patients over the weekend. There is an overflow hub, but practices can now only access this if they are working at OPEL level 3. The Medical Group have been working at this level for the past few weeks due to staff shortages. 

Covid Spring Booster Programme

The spring booster programme has now started in care homes and the first clinics are being held in practice for patients aged 75 and over or aged 5-74 and are immunosuppressed. Vaccines are delivered centrally to the PCN therefore it is difficult to plan clinics until we know when and how many vaccines we will be allocated. The spring booster programme needs to end by 30th June to allow six months between this booster and the autumn booster. Staff will contact those who are eligible for vaccination to arrange appointments. 

Deputy for JM to Attend External Meetings

Item deferred until the next meeting.

Feedback from External Meetings

JM experienced technical difficulties with her audio therefore no external meeting feedback was given at the meeting.  

Any Other Business

Living Well Programme

Mrs Hunter explained that the practice has been approached by the Northeast Commissioning Support Group to join up with the Living Well Programme. The Living Well Programme will contact patients who are awaiting surgical procedures on the NHS to offer support and suggest other ways to help while they wait for their procedure. The Programme would require access to our computer system which Mrs Hunter explained she is always wary of this however, after discussion with Dr Wing Senior Partner of The Medical Group it was agreed to enquire what the Patient Group thought as the Programme is run by an NHS organisation who follow strict GDPR guidance. Mrs Hunter informed those present at the meeting that she had enquired if we could do some kind of search and inform the eligible patients ourselves this cannot be done. Those present at the meeting felt that the Living Well Programme seemed to be a good idea and it would be a shame for patients to miss out on the support.

It was agreed that Mrs Hunter will enquire if there is any other way the Programme could retrieve the data but if not agreed that The Medical Group patients should not miss out on the support being offered.


There being no other business The Meeting closed at 1.33pm


Next meeting will be held on: Friday 9th June 23 1.30PM (Face to face meeting) at St John's Hall, Meadowfield, DH7 8RP