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Patient empowerment

Since January 2003, all NHS bodies have had a legal duty to involve and consult the public about the running of local health services.

There are a number of ways you can become involved in shaping the way primary care is provided, either nationally or locally.  

Some GP surgeries have patient participation groups (PPGs). These are practice-based and should represent the population served by the practice. PPGs help collect the views of patients through surveys and collecting feedback. Members can advise the practice and its patients on systems and services. They liaise with other PPGs, lobby for health services, and are also involved in the recruitment of staff, including GPs.

While most PPGs focus on local issues, some do extend their focus to national issues. PPGs exist in around half of GP practices; speak to your practice receptionist to find out about PPGs in your area.

Visit the National Association for Patient Participation (NAPP) website www.napp.org.uk for more information on PPGs.

You can rate health services you have used, and add comments, by visiting sites such as iWantGreatCare (www.iwantgreatcare.org) or your local NHS website (www.nhs.uk or see Getting more information).

From October 2012, Healthwatch is the new independent ‘consumer champion’. It aims to gather and represent the views of the public about health and social care services in England, and will report to the Care Quality Commission.

Local Healthwatch organisations will start operating from April 2013. They will take over the work from Local Involvement Networks (LINks). The membership of local Healthwatch organisations should reflect the local community. The bodies are intended to help local health services meet the needs of people in their community by representing the views of patients, communicating patient experiences and working to improve their access to advice and information. You can find out more about Healthwatch at http://healthandcare.dh.gov.uk/what-is-healthwatch.

In Scotland, the Public Partnership Forum provides an opportunity for patients to become involved in shaping health services: www.nhs24.com/getinvolved.

In Northern Ireland, you can join the Health and Social Care Patient Client Council: www.patientclientcouncil.hscni.net.

Contact your local Health Board to get involved in Wales: www.wales.nhs.uk/ourservices/getinvolved.

There are other ways to become involved in shaping the medical care you receive. These include:

  • forming or joining an HIV clinic patient group.
  • visiting or writing to your MP.
  • getting local businesses interested in HIV prevention and provision of support.
  • writing to the media.
  • raising issues in e-forums such as THT’s campaigning website (www.tht.org.uk/our-charity/campaign) or general campaigning websites such as www.38degrees.org.uk.

HIV, GPs & other primary care

Published October 2012

Last reviewed October 2012

Next review October 2014

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.