We note the recent publication in the press of the email (dated 16 July 14) which NHG sent to the PPG members explaining their position with regard to continued working with the PPG. We feel we should explain the context of this letter and allow us to fill in the gaps that led to the PPG being dissolved, the Practice having withdrawn their support to the PPG in its current elected form.
The Practice previously raised concerns as to the adverse publicity generated at PPG public meetings and following the AGM on the 23rd April the Practice discussed this issue with the PPG chair. (To note, at the AGM the decision was taken to continue with public meetings and the new PPG committee was elected with Dr Baker from the Practice presiding over the election vote.) Immediately after the AGM Dr Baker and Barbara Graham discussed the public meetings issue with the Chair and expressed their concern for how the meetings were being managed and how they would be reported.
The Chair subsequently made repeated attempts to meet with the Practice to discuss these concerns and other PPG business with a meeting being arranged for 30th June when the Practice asked the Chair to resign as they felt they had lost confidence in him, citing a ‘loss of trust’ however this has not been adequately explained nor articulated in writing.
A meeting between the Practice and the PPG was arranged for the 2 July where a number of issues were brought forward by the Practice as justification for their position. These issues related to:
administration of the PPG and some of our activities which could be improved;
adverse press coverage, which in turn has led to a reduction in staff morale, staff resignations and finally;
an adverse effect on clinical care;
leading to a loss of confidence in the Chair and their call for his resignation.
A robust and passionate discussion took place between the PPG and the Practice around the Practice’s approach to issues raised and their handling of issues such as the management of change. It was also pointed out to the Practice that whilst they had previously mentioned some of these issues in the past they had not taken the time to allow them to be tackled in a formal manner.
Discussions around a partnered approach took place which included an offer of goodwill from the PPG to postpone our next public PPG meeting which was scheduled for the 15 Jul in Ardersier. In the end the Practice wanted to know if the PPG was prepared to support the Chair to which the PPG replied unanimously that we would continue to support the Chair. The Practice suggested a period of reflection but no end date was agreed for this.
Following this the PPG convened to discuss next steps, which were:
Develop a partnered constitution for discussion with the Practice;
Develop a roadmap to success to achieve a working partnership with the Practice;
and write a letter explaining our position offering to work in partnership with the Practice for the betterment of healthcare services for patients.
The PPG sent a 20140711-Letter to Practice Stating PPG Position along with a 20140711-PPG Roadmap – V1.0 and a draft constitution to the Practice on Fri 11th July pointing out our strengths as a group, our position on the call for resignation of the PPG Chair, our postponement of the public meeting as a gesture of goodwill, the drafting of a new partnering constitution and a roadmap to allow us to operate together in the future. We reiterated our commitment to helping the Practice improve provision of Healthcare Service to the patients and looking forward to getting through the challenging patch in our relationship. We also asked for a written explanation of the issues raised in the meeting on the 2 July.
This letter was answered with Barbara Graham’s email on the 16th July which reiterated their position for the resignation of the (publicly elected at a meeting presided over by the practice) Chair and their refusal to move on this despite our goodwill gestures of postponing the PPG meeting and the production of a draft partnering constitution and a roadmap to see us through this.
Overall, the PPG has been disappointed in the approach of the Practice in dealing with issues, especially when we were prepared to postpone public meetings and make efforts to provide a new partnering agreement. The Practice has not been prepared to place in writing the issues they have articulated to us nor have they provided evidence to support their claims. It is also disappointing that they have not even considered mediation to repair this ‘breakdown in trust’ between the Practice and the Chair. We can only conclude that they were not happy with the way that they were being portrayed in the press and have not had a effective strategy to deal with the press and public. What is even more disappointing is that the PPG could have helped the practice in these matters and indeed offered in private to help.
Ultimately the common aim of the PPG and the Practice should be ‘To improve the healthcare of the patients in the NHG by working in partnership with the Practice to identify and implement service improvements.’However we feel that the Practice really only wants to do this on their own terms and are not prepared to be transparent and work to with the PPG to better the healthcare of the patients in the Practice population.