Bus services for Ardersier

We’re with those who are calling for improvements following Stagecoaches’ cancellation at the end of May of a bus service between Ardersier and Nairn.
The evidence we found when we surveyed people around Nairnshire last year was that Ardersier and the other outlying areas are notably less well served by bus and dial-a-bus than the rest of us….not that any of us have lots to chose from.

We think that organising an alternative bus service using the community transport association mini-buses would make a difference, and from what we’ve understood, it’s feasible with volunteer drivers. But the survey also made it clear that bus services and dial-a-bus are not the whole answer. Lots of people prefer the bus, but they’ve also made it very clear that the services provided simply don’t offer the flexibility that they need. Even if a service is available, for 11% of our survey respondents they aren’t available for them to complete their return journey. Buses run at set times over fixed routes. There’s only one Dial-a-bus and its availability is restricted by things like the school run or staff break-times. The Community Transport Association mini-buses are designed for use by local community groups and are well-used, but while they may be suitable for a bus route they don’t provide the flexibility of a car or taxi.

What’s needed for Nairnshire and neighbouring Ardersier is a flexible range of services that INCLUDE buses and dial-a-bus, doesn’t undermine local taxi businesses, but also fills the gaps these services can’t fill. We think what’s needed is LOCAL co-ordination, to help people and service providers to maximise the use of existing services but also to manage a voluntary car service. This isn’t a new idea: there’s a highly successful scheme in Badenoch & Strathspey and others in Inverness and the Black Isle.

We’ve been on the hunt for a partner to work with us in setting this up. Drop us a line if you can think of one we could approach…


Next Meeting in Ardersier

After the success of our AGM in May, our next public meeting is to be held at the Memorial Hall in Ardersier from 7pm on Thursday 27th August.
The theme of the meeting is Social Isolation and Health
We hear frequently about the isolation of patients, not just the elderly, in our small villages, even in town. Relatives and neighbours get worried about people who are housebound, maybe can’t face going out, have lost touch with old friends, maybe don’t even see a doctor or nurse from one month to another. We want your suggestions about what the NHS, our GPs, our care services – any of us – can do that might help reduce the misery of loneliness and isolation. Come along and give us your two penny worth at the meeting on the 27th.


AGM Questions

We’re beginning to collect issues to put to Debbie Jones at the AGM. One of our number has praised the quality of care they received when coronary problems were unexpectedly discovered, but asks whether ancillary staff have had enough training – twice they have insisted on him attending appointments for screening not needed because he was already getting it from specialists.
Another asks why, when he requested a repeat prescription, he wasn’t told this had been refused until he went to collect it from the chemist three days later. On phoning the surgery he was told this was because he’d made the request “too soon”. When he asked when he could get it he was told “now”…!
Then there’s a question (not for the first time) about whether refreshments couldn’t be made available in the waiting room – a drinks machine or something like it….and one or two of you have described the benefits you’ve had from visiting the Salt Cave and are asking if local NHS representatives could look into the services it offers and whether, as they believe in England, these could be free on the NHS.
Keep those questions, issues and praise coming in!


Joining in

Anyone who lives in the catchment area of Nairn Healthcare Group can take part in NAPG meetings like this one and can also put themselves forward to join the committee and our working groups.
We’re especially keen to encourage young people (and we don’t just mean those under 60, we also mean teens and twenties!) as well as those with organizational or commercial experience to join us.
There’s plenty of room on the committee. Some of the existing committee are standing down, others are putting themselves forward again.

What you can do:
The kind of work people can get involved in is quite varied – all of it involves building sound relationships with Health and Care service managers and staff in our area. These are the more obvious roles or activities
1. Chair
2. Deputy Chair: will deputise for chair, so might expect to chair around 30% of NAPG and committee meetings, including those with Jean-Pierre and his colleagues.
3. Secretary: take notes of meetings & prepare correspondence arising.
4. Treasurer
5. Updating website www.nairnpatientsgroup.org.uk facebook www.facebook.com/NairnPatientsGroup twitter https://twitter.com/nairnppg
6. Network communications: co-ordinating distribution of posters and notices around the area, surgery, library and other public noticeboards

How people can join in:
People can put themselves forward for membership of the committee at any time from now up until the AGM. Simply phone and let us know your interest, email or write.

The AGM will be held from 7.00pm on 12th May 2015 at Nairn Community and Arts Centre.


NHS Highland boss to answer your questions at our AGM

Our last public meeting was a great improvement with the enthusiastic presence of senior local NHS manager Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek. Our upcoming AGM promises to be even better – NHS Highland Chief Operating Officer Deborah Jones will be participating in a question and answer session. Come along and get your concerns and delights aired…If you can’t come, let us have your questions now and we’ll collate them with everyone else’s and make sure they’re put to her.


Public Meeting 4th February 2015, 7pm at Nairn Community Centre

N&APG Public Meeting

The N&APG are pleased to announce that we will be holding a public meeting in the Nairn Community Centre on the 4th Feb 15 at 19:00.

This meeting is an opportunity for members of the public to find out what the group has been up to since the dissolution of the PPG back in July.

The purpose of the meeting is

·      to up-date everyone on what we have been doing

·      to hear patients’ and service users’ views on how we should go forward

·      give patients an opportunity to meet Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek (NHS Highland South Area Manager) who will discuss how the NHS joins the dots between GPs, Hospitals and Adult Social care.

·      to encourage new members to join our committee

The group’s committee was elected at the public meeting in April and has remained together ever since, working hard to ensure patients views and concerns are represented to those who provide us with health and social care services in the area.

We have held a number of meetings with NHS Highland’s Head of Public Engagement and the Scottish Health Council’s representative in the Highlands. The result is that we will be able to represent patients’ views not only on health services including physiotherapy and dentistry but also on social care, such as care at home and residential care.

We have regularly met with Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek who is the NHS Highland South Area Manager. Jean-Pierre and his colleagues are very keen to encourage patient engagement in the shaping and provision of health and social care in our region.

We have joined Voluntary Health Scotland, the support and lobby organisation for the third sector in health and have participated in the Scottish Government’s “Stronger Voice” consultation on service user involvement.

We have also completed the analysis of the transport survey carried out with RCOP Highland and will be publishing our findings imminently. We very much hope this will help lead to improvements in the provision of transport for the many local people who currently feel disadvantaged.

So if you’re interested in how your NHS provides and supports the services you use please pop along to join in the discussions.

For further details contact info@nairnpatientsgroup.org.uk or call 07766 237312


Next Public Meeting

We will be holding a meeting on Wednesday 4th February 2015

at Nairn Community & Arts Centre from 7 pm

  • to up-date everyone on what we have been doing
  • to hear patients’ and service users’ views on how we should go forward
  • to encourage new members to join our committee

PPG becomes NAPG

Nairn’s Patient Participation Group, originally set up by the GP Practice, has re-formed as the Nairn and Ardersier Patients’ Group. In essence it is the same group – same patients, same committee, same purpose, but now with a wider remit

The group’s committee was elected at the public meeting in April and has remained together ever since.

Our purpose is to ensure patients views and concerns are represented to those who provide us with health and social care services in the area.

As a result of a number of meetings with NHS Highland’s Head of Public Engagement and the Scottish Health Council’s representative in the Highlands, we will be able to represent patients’ views not only on health services including physiotherapy and dentistry but also on social care, such as care at home and residential care

We will be meeting in future on patients’ behalf with representatives of the NHS Highland/Highland Council partnership led by Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek, Area Manager South. We are currently working with them on terms of reference and possible arrangements for funding.


Statement by the PPG in response to NHG recent press release

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.