Patients in Southport help homeless people get healthcare

Health commissioners in Southport and Formby are encouraging residents to get involved in their local NHS by joining their GPs practice’s patient group this national participation week (10–15 June).

Staff at St Marks and Trinity Medical Centre in SouthportNHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is raising awareness of the role of patient participation groups, which every GP practice in England is required to have. Groups canprovide practical support in the surgery, foster improved communication between the practice and its patients and help people to take more responsibility for their health.

St Marks and Trinity Medical Centre in Southport have an active patient group. The PPG and the staff at the practice have been working closely with its local community to support homeless residents to register with a GP practice. This was started through a suggestion a member of the patient group who was formerly homeless and so has first-hand experience of the challenges people face getting the healthcare they need.

Eric Balki, an executive partner at the two practices who support the work of the patient group, explained: 

“Since this problem was brought to light by our patient group we have been able to register 16 homeless patients at the practice. These patients have received regular health checks and medical assistance, which has helped to prevent the onset of more serious health problems.

"We have also been able to put them in touch with other support services. We would encourage homeless people in this area to come and see us for more information.”

Eric is also encouraging other people to join their practice’s group:

“Our patient group is a great asset to the practice, helping patients to share their ideas about how we can improve what we do. We are always looking for new members. If you are interested just speak to your receptionist at your GP practice. I would encourage people to join because it helps the public understand how general practices work and their feedback helps to shape future services.”

NHS Southport and Formby CCG work with Healthwatch Sefton to regularly encourage more people to join their practice’s patient group.

Wendy Andersen, engagement manager for Healthwatch Sefton, says:

“Our Community Champion network members have been telling us of the difficulties of being able to join a GP practice PPG and we are now glad to be working in partnership with the CCGs to support in the development of PPGs throughout Sefton.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“We are really keen to grow our patient groups in Sefton. They are a way to share your views on the future of GP practices and have your say so please do speak to your practice if you are interested.”

To find out more you can visit: or you can speak to your own GP practice if you are interested in joining. You can also watch a short video about the benefits of being involved in a PPG here:

The week is organised by the National Association for Patient Participation, (N.A.P.P) a national charity, formed in 1978. Uniquely placed as the only umbrella body for patient-led groups in primary care, N.A.P.P has over 40 years’ experience in promoting, supporting and developing Patient Participation Groups (PPGs). There are now over 1500 groups affiliated to N.A.P.P, representing at least ten million patients across the UK.


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