PPG Newsletter 1

PPG newsletter #1

PPG Newsletter 1

Patient Participation Group Newsletter.




To the very first Unsworth Group Practice newsletter, prepared by the Patient Participation Group (PPG) for patients of both Peter House and Blackrod practices.  

You may not know that each surgery has to have a Patient Participation Group or PPG as it’s known. The members of the PPG want to improve communication with you, so have put together this first newsletter. We are aiming to produce one every couple of months to keep you up to date with what’s happening at both the Westhoughton and Blackrod surgeries.

Every practice serving the NHS must have a Patient Participation Group (PPG).    Each PPG is probably different, as they tend to evolve over time, but their main aim is to represent the views of the patients within their practice.   

We are not a ‘forum for moaners’ but neither are we a ‘doctor fan club’.  
We have a small committee who are willing to listen to and pass on your suggestions for improving the Practice; your ideas where things can be improved, your complaints and, of course, your praise for members of the Practice team.  

PPGs act as a ‘critical friend’ to the Practice, by helping it appreciate and understand what patients are thinking and are saying about issues, such as, opening hours, telephone systems, requests for home visits, delays in being taken for appointment, telephone or video appointments, seeing their favourite GP, seeing their favourite Practice Nurse, repeat prescriptions and the range and type of services provided within the Practice.  

At the end of this newsletter is a contact email address for the PPG. Please do not hesitate to contact us!

Each year, the PPG holds an annual public meeting in September, but this has obviously been postponed during the pandemic and it will hopefully be held towards the end of this year.

If you have any good (or bad) experiences that you would like to share with others, through the newsletter, please let us know.

Keep Safe

Chris Mckellen   PPG Chairman

PPG Contact-  

                              Westhoughton        Peter House, Captain Lees Rd, Westhoughton, Bolton BL5 3UB      01942 812525

                                           Blackrod        Health Centre, Church St, Blackrod, Bolton BL6 5EQ               01204 697229

Patient Participation Group Newsletter.

What’s happening???


COVID-19… What a year and a half!

The most talked about topic for the last year has to be Covid-19, it has impacted all our lives and turned everything we know and love upside down, in March last year we entered our first national lockdown, and this had an immediate effect on how we talk to and communicate with our G. P surgery. The vast majority of consultations were done either by phone, or by video call. The surgery could not be accessed except by special arrangement... Thankfully, as the year progressed things did become easier as we learnt how to deal with the virus, and some face to face appointments did start to happen. At the time of writing both the Oxford AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNtech vaccines have been approved and we are all looking forward to seeing that everyone over the age of 18 has the opportunity to receive at least a first dose by the 19th July. As well as the most vulnerable groups, being fully vaccinated.

The Practice has been selected to be an Official Site for the vaccine and has at the time of writing completed 25 successful vaccination clinics… The Practice is responding to changes and amending plans, regularly. It’s also been supported by some fantastic volunteers who are helping guide patients through the clinics and into the vaccination area.

So, how has the clinics done, and did Westhoughton respond to the call to get vaccinated? You bet we did! By the next clinic over 25,000 vaccinations will have been given at Peter House, that is a truly amazing number, with 98.5 per cent of over 70’s taking up the vaccine offer... and a fantastic 85.7 per cent of “All ages” coming forward too. Numbers like this don’t just happen, it’s down to bloomin hard work on the part of all the team led by Westhoughton’s Vaccinator in Chief, Dr Beverly Matta…So if you are a Doctor, Nurse, Volunteer vaccinator, Management, Administration Staff member or Volunteer marshal.. You are all brilliant… well done!  

FLU Annual Clinics….

As many of you reading this will know, the last round of flu injection clinics was held just before Christmas, last year. These being for the 50 to 64 age group. The clinics started back in September 2020 when the most vulnerable patients were called in for a Flu jab. It has been reported back that the take-up for the latest round was disappointing…  Are you in this age group? Was there a reason you decided not to take up the offer and have a flu injection? Let us know, we will feed this back to the practice for their action, if needed.

Patient Participation Group Newsletter.

Surgery Staffing

Due to many reasons including illness, self-isolation, bereavement and maternity leave the number of staff available at the practice has been lower than would normally be expected, this has resulted in some delays in the speed at which you may have been able to contact staff. The surgery staff are working hard to get things organised for everyone in our community, and it is hoped that things will soon improve as new staff are joining and people to return to work.


Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The practice has recently been inspected by the CQC and the report issued rated the overall quality of the service provided as “Good”. We are pleased that this award has been given, but we know that the practice wants to aim and attain the highest level of award, that of “Outstanding” and to that end the team are continuing to work hard to achieve that standard along with working with all the other challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic is presenting.


A new website has been constructed to allow patients to interact more fully with the surgery for all sorts of routine issues. As many of you know, it is now possible to order repeat prescriptions and have them electronically sent to the pharmacy of your choice for collection or delivery. Prior to the pandemic it was also possible to arrange an appointment to see a clinical member of staff. We hope the new site will allow a much more detailed library of information to be accessed, giving patients much more information in one place. If you have any ideas as to what you think should be included, why not let us know…..

Patient Participation Group Newsletter.

Summary Care Record (SCR)

You may have seen on the Practice website, or in the news recently, that the NHS is introducing a new computer system called the Summary Care Record (SCR).

The SCR is a long term plan to combine all our medical records in one location.  The purpose is that if we need medical care whilst we are on holiday (say in Cornwall) or whilst the practice is closed, the medical professional attending us will be able to access our record to ensure that the treatment recommended is not conflicting with anything prescribed by the GP.

At present, the Practice holds our main health record, but we may have NHS records in other places too – for example at hospitals, or at the dentist.

The SCR is initially for our benefit but the NHS plans that the records will be used anonymously to identify trends, and for research.   They assure us that the individual records will not be sold to commercial organisations (in a similar way to the DVLA).

Our records will automatically be transferred to the SCR system at some point soon, but if you wish to opt-out there is a process for doing so.

What’s coming up?

Peter House is getting a new telephone system! We know that the number 1 comment from patients is the ability to telephone the practice, when you need advice or to make an appointment. It might surprise you to know that the surgery has 20,500 registered patients that is twenty thousand five hundred! Unsworth group is by far the largest GP practice in the whole of the Bolton borough, the next one having (only) 14,000 patients. There are up to 10 members of staff answering calls at busy times, but if you think that over 100 people are trying to call, and that is only a tiny fraction of the patients; Then 90 people are waiting in the queue to get answered. The new system will give the staff information about how many calls are waiting, plus it will enable the practice management to monitor when demand is at the highest, therefore needing more staff to answer calls. Staff have told us that the “old” system is blocked for lots of times during the day, so much so that they use their personal mobile phones to make outgoing calls!...... We hope to report how things are going in our next newsletter.

Patient Participation Group Newsletter.

Doctor’s retirement

Many of you will remember fondly Dr Davies, he has not been in the practice for a while, and has finally decided to hang up his stethoscope and retire. Dr Davies has spent many years at Unsworth Group treating many hundreds of patients in his time with the practice. He will no doubt now have more time to follow his passion for Manchester United (Well someone has to!) and enjoy spending lots more time with his family especially his Grandchildren… We wish him every happiness in his retirement.

Doctors Joining

Well as one door closes on a career another opens, and firstly welcome back Dr Preeti Adma back from maternity leave… as well as welcome 3 new Training Doctors along with Mr Dave Carter who joins as a Physician Associate, he has the same medical qualifications as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, so will be a very welcome addition to the team  

Meet our Social Prescribers:

Now you’re thinking, “What is a Social Prescriber! And “I’ve never heard of one of those”!


The practice has 2 Social prescribers, sometimes called Social Prescriber Link Workers, They are Julie Wright and Jenna Scholes, who are part of the Bolton GP Federation, but do work at Peter House as and when they are needed.  They concentrate and focus on “What matters to me” when they are with a patient, they take a holistic approach to the patients’ health and wellbeing. Both Julie and Jenna have a wealth of knowledge about service and organisations that are available to help with whatever a patient might have worries about, and that worry is affecting their overall health, be it mental or physical. Things like, Housing, employment, substance abuse, finances, bereavement, loneliness due to living alone, people who might be frail, housebound or elderly. In fact anything that might have an effect on a patients overall wellbeing… It’s a big task, and one that both Julie and Jenna really enjoy, as it is all about looking out for those members of the community who are not having such a good time at the moment. If you need to contact Julie or Jenna get in touch with the surgery and see if they can arrange for a chat with one of them.

Patient Participation Group Newsletter.

…Patient Question Corner   (?)

Question:     There are several apps included on the practice website.   Which should I use?

Answer:       The three apps are all useful, but you only need one!      The NHS app is the all-encompassing app which allows you to:

  • check your symptoms
  • guides you as to what to do if you need urgent help
  • make and manage appointments at the Practice (currently suspended due to Covid)
  • order repeat prescriptions
  • view your personal GP medical record, securely
  • shows your vaccination status – maybe for holidays

The other apps link in to the NHS app and use the same basic information.     

Unfortunately, the NHS App only works on smartphones that are not more than a few years old.



How many staff are there at the surgery and what do they do?


The practice has 20,500 patients, being “The” largest GP practice we have as clinical staff: 8 GP

Partners, 5 Salaried GP’s, 2 Advanced Nurse Practitioner’s, 6 Nurses,            2 Social Prescribers, 2 Phlebotomists, 4 Practice Pharmacists, A Muscular Skeleton Practitioner, A Mental Health practitioner and a Paramedic.


Working alongside all the clinical staff are The Practice Manager, Deputy Practice Manager and Office Manager, 35 Reception/Administration staff and a data analyst.


All the clinical and administration staff work to ensure the best healthcare is available to the 20,500 patients.



Well that’s it from this first edition of the PPG newsletter, why not use the email address shown below to tell us what you think, we welcome comments and compliments.  

How do you feel the vaccination programme has gone?  

Did the volunteers smile enough? (Even when it was raining!)

 How can we improve what we do? We’re always open to good ideas… 

Our practice is one we are really proud of, and both the clinical and administration staff work really hard behind the scenes to make sure that they deliver high quality care for all of our community…

Patient Participation Group Newsletter.


And finally…..

A request from the Practice:

We are trialling a text request for certain clinical information such as BMI and smoking status etc. This information gathering is to further enhance care we deliver to patients. By requesting it via text it helps to keep our phone lines less busy. It does not replace any reviews you would ordinarily be called for. It does help us prioritise patients for advice/ education/ screening etc. The data is received in a very secure and confidential way and placed on an individual patient record. If you do receive a text message please respond if you feel you are able to…

Last minute Survey Results!

I know we said “and finally” but, we just had to share this news with you that’s just in…

Some of you may remember being asked to complete a survey of how you felt different aspects of the practice were performing. The independent survey was carried out on behalf of the NHS by leading market research organisation, Ipsos MORI; between January and March 2021.The surgery are really pleased that most of the results show above average scores compared to other practices…


Under the heading “Local GP Services”

69% find it easy to contact the Practice by phone

91% feel that the receptionists are helpful

72% are satisfied with the appointments available

44% usually get to speak to their preferred GP



Patient Participation Group Newsletter.

When asked about “Making an Appointment”

75% were offered a choice of appointment

84% were satisfied with appointment offered

98% took the appointment offered

74% described their experience of making an appointment as good


Patients were then asked about their opinion of their “Last appointment”

97% were given time for their appointment

91% felt their4 healthcare professional gave them gave them enough time for their appointment

93% thought the healthcare profession was good at listening

91% felt their healthcare professional was good at treating them with care and concern

98% felt that they were involved as much as they wanted to be in their care and treatment

97% felt their needs were met at their last appointment

96% had confidence and trust in their healthcare professional


These are good by any measurement and shows the commitment being made by everyone in the practice to commit to “Constant improvement”

Contact Us

If you would like to contact us please don’t hesitate!   Our email address is UnsworthPPG@gmail.com


PPG Contact-  

                  Westhoughton        Peter House, Captain Lees Rd, Westhoughton, Bolton BL5 3UB      01942 812525

                              Blackrod        Health Centre, Church St, Blackrod, Bolton BL6 5EQ                 01204 697229