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The role of Patient Reference Groups

The main aims and areas of work include:

  • Organising (running the group and the group’s activities).  As much as possible the group should function without the involvement of staff; however the support of the practice is vital.
  • Helping to identify issues that practices can resolve, through engaging with a representative section of the whole practice population.
  • Acting as a critical friend to the practice.
  • Helping the practice deliver changes, service improvements.
  • Helping to identify potential problems, through acting as an ‘early warning’.
  • Working with the practice to help design local surveys, and promoting these.
  • Offering a way for practice staff and patients to discuss topics of mutal interest.
  • Helping patients to take responsibility for their own health, through raising awareness of conditions and help available.
  • Developing self-help activities such as condition specific support groups.
  • Supporting campaigns and self-help.
  • Acting as a representative group that can influence local provision, through highlighting wider issues.
  • Participating in the wider patient and public engagement structure to allow experiences, views or concerns to reach decision makers.
  • Sharing good practice and ideas.
  • Improving communication between practices, the wider patient population the community and the commissioning process  

What Should Patient Reference Groups Not Be:

  • A ‘talking shop’ or a place for complaints and moans.
  • Focused on pet projects.
  • Too time consuming.
  • Unrepresentative of practice list, i.e. the same few people.
  • A fundraising group.
  • A social group