NHS volunteer says “follow my lead”

There has never been a better time for Derbyshire patients to have their say on local health services.
Just ask 61-year-old Phil Coultas who has recently volunteered as a lay representative for Derby Commissioning Network (DCN), one of the localities making up NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The group plans and buys healthcare for 525,000 patients in and around Derby.
The former Rolls Royce business planning manager puts fellow patients at the heart of decision making and intends to gather views from various Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) and present them, together with his own, at the DCN Board in his role as a lay member. Decisions from this locality meeting are fed into the CCG governing body meetings attended by the CCG’s top decision makers. Equally, he intends to keep the PPGs informed of the CCG’s decisions and plans.
It is around a year ago that Phil was elected joint chair of the PPG at Mickleover Medical Centre, where he is a patient. The medical centre is one of the practices in the DCN locality.
But he was so impressed by the voice given to patients since an NHS shakeup in England in April that he decided to expand his role as a health service volunteer. 
Back in April, CCGs took over from the old Primary Care Trusts as the organisations responsible for buying health services including planned and emergency hospital care, rehabilitation, most community services and mental health and learning disability services.
The idea behind the government-led changes was to put decision making in the hands of local GPs who were accountable to and in touch with the communities they served.
According to Phil, from near Mickleover, the changes have worked: “It’s easier than ever for patients to get involved by joining their local PPG or Lay Reference Group, or attending the meetings of their CCG’s governing body.
“I’ve really enjoyed making a positive contribution to my PPG so I saw it as a natural extension when I saw a CCG advertisement seeking lay representatives.”
Nearly all of Southern Derbyshire’s 57 GP practices now have a PPG, meaning that patients have an important role in ensuring that services meet their needs. PPGs are independent forums of patients who work with medical staff to improve services at their surgery. They set their own agenda to reflect what matters to them and fellow patients.
PPGs communicate widely throughout the local community in ways that encourage patients to take more responsibility for their health. They are not forums for complaints, which are dealt with by the practice manager or Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS).
Patients might also consider joining the CCG’s Health Panel, which is made up of interested people taking part in activities including:

  • Proof reading patient information

  • Attending events organised by partner health or social care organisations

  • Getting involved with CCG projects to improve patient care. 

Dr Paul Wood, CCG member and GP at Derby’s Park Farm Medical Centre, said:
“Patients are in the unique position of being the only people who know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of services, which means they can provide us with vital information on what works well and how services can improve.

“We’re committed to making sure we listen to and act on feedback from patients and the public.”
Christopher Jackson, Chair of Gresleydale PPG, added:
“The NHS has told us that patients are central to everything they do and that, by listening to us and learning, they can deliver a better service. So search out your PPG, get along and join in, or at least help in some other way.”
To get involved, patients should talk to their practice manager. Alternatively, they can call 01332 868677 or email enquiries@southernderbyshireccg.nhs.uk.
More information on patient involvement can be obtained by calling CCG engagement manager Claire Haynes on 01332 868677 or visiting Southern Derbyshire CCG and clicking the “have your say” link.
Before retiring, Phil was a business planning manager for Rolls Royce Civil Aerospace. Based in Derby but travelling internationally, he was responsible for helping develop and implement strategic business plans and introducing more effective working practices.
He now spends lot of time caring for his 90-year-old mother who has dementia.
He is a house husband with a working wife but, in his spare time, he plays badminton and golf and also maintains an allotment. 
NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices and is responsible for the healthcare of 525,000 people. It is one of four clinical commissioning groups in Derbyshire. 
Charles Malkin, Communications Officer

Tel: 01246 514971/07825 274111

Email: charles.malkin@gemcsu.nhs.uk

Ref: SD/RHR/454

Published: 25/04/2014