PPG Minutes

14 February 2024

13 December 2023

9 August 2023

14 June 2023

2 April 2023

8 February 2023

14 December 2022

09 February 2022


Patients: MP, BP, RB, DW, AH, LC, JR, YS, PS

Staff: Louise Ferguson

Chair: John T. Parish

The meeting was held on Wednesday 09 February 2022 at 10:30am

1. Apologies for absence – VB, MW

2. Minutes of last meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 8th December were accepted. It was noted that the Covid injection campaign was ongoing; patients were being contacted and asked to go to the walk-in centres.

3. Practice Update

Renovations will commence on 21st February and will last for 10 – 12 weeks. During the process the current reception area will be blocked off and a temporary reception area put in place to alleviate the amount of noise.

Jonathan Smart, nurse practitioner, has now commenced with the practice. JS was going to attend the meeting, however, he was unable to do so because of the increased workload due to several staff still working from home, having tested positive for Covid. The practice is using a 14 day isolation period as against the normal 10.

Replacement for JTP as chair –LF stated that HC would welcome any suggestions and/or volunteers. It was suggested that this could be a shared position. After some discussion LC agreed to chair the next meeting.

The position of salaried GP has been advertised but not yet been filled. As previously stated, JS has taken up the position of Nurse Practitioner and will be undergoing further training. James Ross is now in position as Advanced Nurse Practitioner. Admin is now back to full capacity with Suzanne on Reception and Helen who is the Clinical Coder. The practice preferred people to ring for appointments but they could still go to Reception. Monday and Tuesday are the busiest days on the phone but LF advised that she checked before coming to the meeting and there were only 8 in the queue.

With regard to speakers at future meetings, JTP wanted to know more about recycling, e.g. foils, blister packs. LC will provide a list of people who have agreed to recycle in Washington. Superdrug recycle in bulk. Woodlands will collect out of date medication when they make a delivery. It would be useful to have this type of information on the screen in the waiting area. PPG members were interested in a tour of the recycling centreIt may be that other practices could also be involved as a joint venture. JTP/BS will speak to their contacts. Another suggestion was that Washington MIND could be invited back to give an update. Any other suggestions to be sent to HC.

4. Any Other Business

It was suggested that getting younger people to have representation on the PPG may be beneficial, e.g. students, people undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, young carers etc. It was mentioned that St. Robert’s could help on the subject of young people. HC will make the initial approach.

The question was asked as to how much money was raised in the December fund raiser. MP advised that she did not have the final figure but the last she had heard was £250. HC will update the next meeting. It was suggested that another fund raiser (cakes, pies, etc.) be held. Further information to follow.

Presentations were made to JTP by both the PPG and the practice in appreciation of his excellent service as Chair for the past 6 years.

5. Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 13 April and will be chaired by LC


LC provided the following information regarding locations for the recycling of tablet blister packs:

These 3 ladies should all have boxes outside their house but if not, please leave by bins. Blister packs can also be taken to any Superdrug store with a pharmacy.

Closest to Washington are:

  • 37 Walworth Way, The Bridges, Sunderland SR1 3LB
  • 46-52 Northumberland Street, Newcastle NE1 7DF
  • 48-50 Front Street, Chester-le-Street DH3 3BD

08 December 2021

Minutes of our Patient Group Meeting


Patients: MP, BP, BS, DW, NJ

Staff: Henny Carmichael, Dr. Sumner, Kate Sheers

Chair: John T. Parish

The meeting was held on Wednesday 08 December 2021 at 10:30am

1. Apologies for absence – VB, PS, EH, JR, AH, RB, MW, YS, LC

2. Minutes of last meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 13th October were accepted.

3. Practice Update

The second patient newsletter is ready to be published. The first one had resulted in a new member (LC) joining the PPG.

There had been an increase in the number of patients attending the practice with Covid. A risk assessment was carried out and a message was sent out to patients to wear face masks when attending the surgery. All safety measures remain in place, e.g. masks, gloves and wiping down. Dr. Harris and Dr. Annu have now left the practice. Recruiting has been difficult but a new Nurse Practitioner will be starting on 20th December and a salaried GP post has been advertised, with visits taking place this week for potential candidates to look around the practice.

A receptionist, Clinical Coder and HCA have also been appointed and would be starting at the end of December. The practice has been extremely busy, resulting in some part-time staff working overtime and Drs. Harvey and Henderson extending their sessions.

With regard to immunisations, text messages and letters have been sent in an effort to encourage people to take up the vaccinations. The nursing team have been working Saturdays and Sundays to support the hubs. There are still around 900 patients who have not been vaccinated with their first dose.

Alterations to the premises will be getting underway soon. A meeting has been arranged with the CCG to finalise how to get the ball rolling. Electricians and contractors have already visited the premises. The waiting area will be slightly smaller but some clinical rooms will be larger with additional clinical rooms being created. June Pace (ex Practice Manager) will be the project manager.

Some of the work will be carried out during working hours and over weekends. HC will circulate the plans/drawings to the Group and it will be included on the Agenda for the February meeting.

HC announced that JTP was standing down as Chairman of the Group due to other commitments. Dr. Sumner thanked JTP for doing an excellent job over the past few years.

The services of a pharmacy technician are being used in order to alleviate pressure on the practice. A member of the Group praised Cameron, stating that he was an asset to the practice. He is almost finished his apprenticeship and has been helping out with the Covid hubs, in addition to chasing up missing information and pulling together lists of people who have not yet been vaccinated.

A fundraising event (cakes, pies, crafts, etc.) will take place on Friday 10th December in the reception area, with all proceeds going to Sunderland Royal Baby Unit.

4. Next Meeting

Dates for the 2022 meetings will be circulated by HC.

18 October 2021

Minutes of our Patient Group Meeting


Patients: MP | BP | PS | EH | JR | NJ | AH | RB | MW | YS | BS | LC

Staff: Henny Carmichael | Dr Cox | Kate Sheers

Chair: John T. Parish

The meeting was held on Wednesday 13 October 2021 at 10:30am

1. Apologies for absence – DW | VB
LC was welcomed as a new member

2. Minutes of last meeting The minutes of the meeting held on 11th August were accepted.
Mention was made in the minutes regarding 60% of shoppers still wearing face masks when shopping at The Galleries. This has now greatly diminished.

3. Practice Update
HC reported that the practice had been extremely busy. Doors have been open since 19th July. Patients can now book face-to-face or telephone appointments, whichever they prefer.

The first quarterly patient newsletter has been produced, giving patients information about the practice, local developments and health campaigns, and is available to view on the website. Caroline Minns was highlighted in this issue as the Social Prescriber for the practice. This is linked in with Sunderland GP Alliance, giving extra support for patients. CM is also the lead for domestic violence, veterans and carers.

She works closely with MIND and is a mental health first aider. Patients can self-refer to the Social Prescriber, or be referred by their GP. The nursing team are also involved, headed up by AB, in identifying patients who may require support.

HC introduced Dr. Cox (new partner) who stated that it had been a challenge trying to change to remote consultations and difficult for both doctors and patients. Managing risk is a big part of general practice, ascertaining who needs further intervention and who can wait. 90% of the information normally gained from face to face appointments is lost when only hearing a patient’s voice on the telephone, however, patients are now being offered a choice of face to face or telephone appointments, which is helpful. Telephone appointments don’t actually save GPs any time as often, when a patient is seen face-to-face following an initial telephone appointment, the conversation is duplicated.

The longer term place for telephone consultations will mostly be for reviews and follow-ups. Other options are eConsult and the community pharmacy referral scheme. Some patients had bad experiences using smaller pharmacies so the practice is now choosing larger pharmacies that have the capacity. The PCN is currently working with a range of organisations city-wide in order that patients can have access to the best information possible.

There have been several staff changes recently. Dr. Annu will be relocating to London in November and Dr. Harris (part time) is moving to Seaham. The nurse practitioner joining the practice in December will be full time. The practice is looking to recruit another healthcare assistant to deal with health checks, smoking cessation, etc., also another GP. One of the HCAs who joined earlier this year has started nursing associate training. Chris Kennedy retired in September and Louise Reed is the new Office Manager, sharing the role with Cath Ferguson who has reduced her hours. Amy is partly on reception and supports Louise with prescriptions.

Another new starter is Karlie, medical secretary, and Cameron is now working on the front desk. Kate is getting more involved in processes and is undergoing training on medical and insurance reports. A lot of people are leaving primary care due to the pressures. Several tolerance letters have been sent to patients due to verbal abuse of staff and one patient had to be removed because of their behaviour. Staff members at a practice in the South East have actually been attacked.

The question was asked was there a role for volunteers in the practice. HC advised that this is no longer allowed but the practice is working with the voluntary sector, encouraging patients to volunteer in various sectors. Fund raising may be possible, which the PPG could be involved with.

One member commented that he had to attend the Nightingale for his booster, also that the patient bus from Concord had been discontinued. HC confirmed that she was sending text messages asking patients to go to the PCC for boosters. If a patient prefers to be contacted by letter rather than text this can be placed on their record.

Monthly practice meetings are held where concerns/experiences are raised. There is still an issue with the telephone system in that call back does not work on lines with BT call barring. Patients can now get repeat prescription ordering on the NHS app and path lab results can also be viewed.

Patient survey (Ipsos/Mori). This is part of an annual national survey. There are 12k patients in the practice, 298 surveys were sent out, 133 had been returned with the following results:-

Best experience:

  • 81% were offered a choice of appointment when they last requested a GP appointment
  • 98% took the appointment they were offered
  • 96% felt that their needs were met during the appointment

Could be improved:

  • 42% found it easy to get through to the practice on the telephone
  • 34% usually get to see or speak to their preferred GP
  • 65% described their experience of making an appointment as good

The new telephone system has been in place for 6 months and things are improving. If more appointments had been available, which they will be when the new GP/NP come on board, the results would have been better. Praise was given by one member who brought his son to the practice for a health check, mentioned booking an appointment for a flu jab and was given it straightaway. HC advised that for the first two weeks of flu jabs the waiting area was used with three clinicians giving vaccines.

After the first two weeks nurses were back to working from their rooms. The practice has almost achieved the over 65s target due to vaccines being delivered early this year. Housebound patients had also been receiving their jabs.

Online booking of GP appointments will not happen for some time as patients cannot be monitored online for Covid and there had been a couple of “near misses”. The only appointments bookable online are those with nurses. Patients can enter the surgery to make appointments at reception. When checking in they are asked to use the check-in desks rather than go to reception desk. Telephones are no longer on reception which enables the receptionists to deal with patients.

4. Any Other Business

JTP raised the subject of Pennywell Medical Centre, part of the Monument Practice, being at risk of closure due to serious staffing problems. Patient consultation was currently underway. If it did close would it have any impact on this practice. HC stated that the impact would be on the surgeries in the vicinity of Pennywell.

5. Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 8th December 2021, commencing 10.30am

11 August 2021

Minutes of our Patient Group Meeting


Patients: MP, BP, PS, AH, RB

Staff: Henny Carmichael, Cath Ferguson, Dr Sumner, James Ross, Amy Todd

Chair: John T. Parish

The meeting was held on Wednesday 11 August 2021 at 10:30am via ZOOM

  1. Apologies for absence – JR, YS, BS, MW, EH, VB, NJ
  2. Minutes of last meeting The minutes of the meeting held on 6th June were accepted, with one amendment – AH was in attendance.
    • JTP commented that he thoroughly enjoyed the update from Citizens Advice which contained a lot of useful information, especially the cost of energy. Many people are paying over the top because they don’t have the necessary skills/equipment to get alternative quotes.
    • He had researched a home renewal quote and saved a relative £162.
    • A question was raised about opting out of the sharing of NHS patient data. HC advised that there is a section on the practice website with an opt-out form which, when completed, can either be e-mailed, posted or taken into the surgery.
    • A question was asked if this is for pre-existing or new conditions. HC stated that if the patient was on medication which gets changed or titrated regularly this would not be feasible, however, medication that the patients receive each month can be set up for repeat dispensing. Patients can discuss this with Louise (Prescription Clerk) who will plan to set the system up if appropriate.
    • Regarding VCS, HC advised that she was working on specific items for the next meeting.
    • The referral form had been discussed and is now being piloted. The social prescribing team are now in place but currently there are no referrals due to school holidays. Data collection will be distributed to all practices in Washington. Currently looking at how we can work with other services…
  3. Practice Update HC advised that there had been several staff changes in the practice. James had joined as Advanced Nurse Practitioner, but not yet full time, and Amy is now on the reception team. Further members of staff are still to be recruited. New members of staff will appear on the practice website. Since 19th July doors have been open with infection control in place, i.e. sanitising on entry, wiping down check-in screens and the wearing of masks. Patients are still being encouraged to ring for appointments. Face-to-face or telephone consultations are available. Changes have been made to e-consult – Saturdays and Sundays have been removed, now Monday to Friday 7.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m.
    • A city-wide community pharmacy referral scheme has been introduced. If the problem fits the profile, e.g., coughs, ear infections, sore throats, etc, it can be referred to the pharmacies, however, anything clinical that doesn’t meet the referral criteria is passed to a clinician.
    • Covid 19 – patients are still being invited for jabs. Currently working through the list of patients in all age groups who have not taken up the vaccine; they are being contacted by telephone, letter or text. 16 – 17-year-olds started being invited last week. It is difficult to fill these clinics as a lot of patients are reluctant to have a first or second jab.
    • The search list for next age group is being prepared. It is hoped to administer boosters at the same time as the flu jab from early September, however, this has yet to be confirmed. Patients will be invited by MJOG or letter.
    • Unfortunately, the new telephone system does not have the functionality to allow patients to book their flu jab as previously. Instead, there will be a dedicated option on the telephone system where a staff member will book the appointment.
    • Comment was made that around 60% of shoppers in the Galleries were still being cautious and wearing masks. HC confirmed that MJOG messages had been sent out with guidelines on what patients need to do when coming into the practice.
  4. Any Other Business Clarification was requested on whether to ring or visit the surgery to make an appointment. Ringing for an appointment was the practice’s preferred option.
    • In response to a question about appointments getting “back to normal”, nurse appointments are available to book online but GP appointments will not be online for the foreseeable future. There is still concern over infected patients attending appointments. The isolation room is still available but, if a deep clean is required it is quite an upheaval to get the team in, with a waiting time of at least 2 hours.
    • HC introduced James and Amy.
    • James advised that his background was 12 years in the NHS – A&E in Sunderland, then moved to the ambulance service on rapid response, this was followed by work in another GP practice in Sunderland.
    • Amy explained that she worked in a GP surgery from the age of 19, then went to work at a care home as Team Leader working alongside the nurse.
    • HC advised that Amy was currently working 25 hours but will become full time in September.
  5. Next Meeting The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 13th October, commencing 10.30 a.m. After asking the question of attendees, it was decided that this meeting would be face-to-face at the surgery.

9 June 2021

Minutes of our Patient Group Meeting


Patients: MP, BP, PS, EH, NJ, RB, DW, VB

Staff: Henny Carmichael, Cath Ferguson, Dr Swinburne, Louise (part)

Chair: John T. Parish

JTP introduced the guest speaker, Hannah from Citizens Advice, Sunderland, who gave an overview of the services they provide. Over the past year there have been a lot of different issues caused through the pandemic including more people wanting to claim benefits and people being evicted from their homes. As far as benefits are concerned, Citizens Advice can check whether a person is entitled to benefits (job seeker’s allowance, personal independence payment, attendance allowance, etc.) and support them in making a claim.

A second area of support is personal data. Citizens Advice can look at money coming in and going out, negotiate with creditors on behalf of the client and provide budget tips to support in the longer term.

The final area of specialisation is helping with energy advice. Citizens Advice can compare energy providers and assist people to register with the Energy Services Register. Recently several clients have benefited from this service. Citizens Advice have been given £3k in fuel vouchers to be used by the end of 2021 which can help people who are struggling.

The offices are currently closed but the aim is to open after 21st June. During the pandemic advice has been given by telephone and email. The point was made by a member of the group that, on visiting the Washington office, there was someone inside but they would not open the door. Hannah pointed out that renovation work was being carried and that could be the reason that a member of staff was in there. Home visits have taken place, however, some advisors were at risk and classed as clinically vulnerable. As the pandemic has changed what people need, a survey will be sent out to get feedback on what the current priorities are.

Dr. Swinburne felt it would be beneficial for talks to be given by Citizens Advise at GP surgeries in order that colleagues could better understand the benefit system and be aware what to look for so that patients could be signposted to the necessary service.

  1. Apologies for absence – JR, YS, BS, MW
  2. Minutes of last meeting The minutes of the meeting held on 14th April were accepted.
  3. Prescription/Batch Ordering Some patients had fallen foul of the batch system and run out of medication. It was explained that the maximum order for medication is 6 months. Some pharmacies will re-order but those who don’t need to advise the patient, when they collect the final part of their batch, that 2 weeks before the prescription is due again, the patient needs to get in touch with the practice to re-order. This can be done by phone, e-mail, post or through Patient Access.
  4. Practice Business HC advised that Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelly became partners in the practice with effect from 1st May. A full time Advanced Nurse Practitioner had been appointed to give support to GPs as the workload had increased dramatically. A new part-time receptionist had also been appointed and interviews would be taking place on 10th June for an additional 25 hour post. There had been a slight change on the HCA team – one member was leaving the practice, there had been the appointment of a 16 hour post to cover the administration side and one of the HCA in the existing team is due to become a trainee nurse assistant who will be training for 2 years.Following on from the last meeting a VCS (Voluntary and Community Sector) Steering Group had been created and 2 meetings had so far taken place. There are 10 – 12 members in the group which includes clinical director, GP, nurse, practice managers, Arts Centre and patients. The police are also coming on board to identify issues with young people, e.g. drug addiction and domestic violence. HC keen to get patients and professionals on board to address problems in Washington. As a recently retired magistrate, BP volunteered his services. Meetings take place on the last Wednesday of each month.
  5. Any Other Business HC advised that the practice was keen to open its doors to patients again but needed to get the logistics right. The demand for appointments was huge and solutions were being sought. Patients need to be encouraged to use pharmacy services. Face-to-face appointments are available for lumps, abdominal pain and bleeding. Online appointments are available again for Practice Nurses (B12, smears etc). Telephone triage appointments are also available, as well as e-consult and there is the extended access service for evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Patients are being brought in for annual reviews and blood tests. Dr. Swinburne advised that Covid had forced changes in consultations and doctors were not initially happy with telephone consultations but were more confident in using this option now and he was proud of how the profession has adapted. If it is felt that a patient needs to be seen in person, that will happen.
  6. Concern was raised regarding the Government’s instruction, through NHS Digital, that GPs hand over patient information which will then be sold on to private companies. It was felt that this matter needed to be further publicised in order that the public know what is being planned. This is a link to an article which recently appeared in the press – https://bylinetimes.com/2021/05/19/the-government-wants-to-sell-your-gp-medical-records-heres-how-to-opt-out/
  7. Next MeetingThe next meeting will take place on Wednesday 11th August, commencing 10.30 a.m.