Patient Participation Group Newsletter: August 2023

Welcome to our Late Summer Newsletter – we hope you find something useful, and of interest.

This is our first newsletter following a hiatus caused by the pandemic, so we are excited to be able to contact you again.

If you are a patient of Whitstable Medical Practice (WMP), we would love to hear from you. As the PPG we are the patients’ voice, and first and foremost we aim to represent the people who are registered as patients with WMP. We meet with a representative of WMP bi-monthly, and meet each other, in between.

We meet at Estuary House in a conference room. All PPG members are invited. We have two types of membership, and hopefully you are interested in joining us either as a committee, or an associate member. 

Have we sparked your imagination? Do you care about local health care? Are you keen to share ideas?

Our main focus this year will be to extend the work we commenced late last year, which is to encourage people to “check their Blood Pressure!” This is part of a national campaign to reduce the number of people with undiagnosed and untreated hypertension. 

If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact us. Find out more about joining us by applying online:

Best wishes
Your Patient Participation Group


Making Appointments

  • Telephone - one number – be patient, and have a pen/pencil handy, because you will need to wait until the list is finished – and to then choose the number for your preferred site – or service.
  • Call into your nearest WMP site and speak to the Patient Coordinator – who will guide you accordingly to your circumstances.
    • You may be directed to the ‘Same Day Clinic’ if the contact is the first time you have contacted for a particular symptom or problem...
    • You may be asked for a convenient time that a doctor can contact you by telephone...
    • Dependent upon the circumstances you may be referred to the Urgent Treatment Centre at Estuary View – where you will negotiate the best way forward at that time.

Following these initial assessments you maybe directed to the one of the many allied healthcare professionals; First contact, Physio, Podiatrist, Mental HeaIth Practitioner. It will depend upon you and your initial discussion with the Patient Co-ordinator

  • Complete the E-consult form on the practice website. You don't need to leave home, but be patient, it asks lots of searching questions. It must, to make sure of the right outcome for you. You select how you wish to be contacted: by text, email, or telephone. Depending on the time you submit your query, you will be answered with 48 hrs with suggestions for the next best step forward. 

Note: If you feel it is necessary you can ask to speak to the Patient Coordinator away from the Reception area. Be assured they have your best interests at heart and are trained in their role of initial assessment.

Out of Hours – call 111 for medical advice


Let’s talk about Breast Cancer

I wonder if there are any families that haven’t been touched by Breast cancer?  
It does feels like they would be the exception these days.  So let’s not hide behind our fears – learn about it and hopefully defeat it by acting early – because early action works…  

Learn what is normal for you– if there are any changes - contact your GP

Both men and women are affected – so everyone should be informed how to check themselves– your sons, daughters, sisters and brothers …  So do it today 
Fuller information about how to check yourself is available here

Women between 50 and 70 can take advantage of a mammogram every 3 years.

Does breast cancer run through your family?
If so, you can be screened outside that age group.

Good News the Breast Screening Service has caught up with offering appointments.  

So if you missed yours for what every reason, please think again

55,000 women and 370 Men are recent numbers developing the disease every year. Please do think again

Dedicate the 30 minutes that are needed to complete the examination for tell tale signs.  
Click this link to find out what happens at your mammogram appointment  

You and your GP will hear the result in about 2 weeks after your examination.

Useful Tip - Having a blood test – NHS advices is:

  • Drink plenty of water at least 30 mins beforehand.
  • Do not eat 3 hours before the clinical blood test.
  • Eat less fatty food, and avoid alcohol 1-2 days prior to the test.
  • Don't smoke 1 hour prior to the test.

Meet one of our Patient Co-ordinators

How did you find yourself in this role as one of our Patient Co-ordinator?  I retired as a Police Officer, but after 6 months at home and both children off to uni, I realised I needed something more. This job came up 2 weeks into ‘lockdown’ and I’ve never looked back. I really love it.

What attracted you to the role? I’m very much a people person and I just love the challenge of trying to find ways of helping people.  I also love being part of a  supportive team of eleven Patient Coordinators. We work well together and look  out for each other.  

What training do you receive? We receive regular in-house training, sometimes with outside speakers. We also do regular online training.

Describe your typical day? I walk to work arriving at 7.30 am each morning. I set up, unlock, prepare the tea and log on ready for a busy day ahead.  I work four part-time sessions, we work a rotational shift, alternating between the front desk and the back office. In the front we take incoming ‘phone calls and requests for appointments, speak face to face with patient, or pharmacy staff who may come in to deliver/collect prescriptions.  Sometimes, a patient calls in with a single new problem which they feel may need attention right away…e.g. a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), a bad cough.  We are able to refer them the ‘Same Day Hub’ at Estuary View where they may be seen that day with a new ailment, or book a telephone consultation with a GP at the surgery.  That too could lead to a patient being seen that day, if the GP felt it necessary.  In the back office we are more task-based. It’s not unusual to find twenty five tasks waiting. 

Can you give some examples?  Some of these are requests by doctors, others by patients. It is our role to try to make these happen. For example a doctor may request a second blood test for a patient, so we call the patient to arrange this, or a patient requires an extended sick note, so we message the doctor. We may be asked to message the District Nurse team; deal with On-line Consultations (E-consult).  Patients assume these arrange a video call with a Doctor. They aren’t.  An On-line appointment is another way of giving information for the doctor to decide if the patient needs to be seen. The list constantly ebbs and flows and we never know what the next call or task may be. I love it. 

How can patients best help when waiting in line at the front?  Protecting confidentiality is a key part of the role.  Sometimes, you will spot us wearing headphones whilst we are finishing an incoming call with a patient, or completing paperwork for them. Waiting and respecting the assigned “STOP” sign until we call you forward is really helpful in protecting everyone’s confidentiality.

What is the most difficult part of the job?  Maintaining a cool and calm head at all times! We sometimes have to work especially hard to help a patient see that our main focus really is to try and  help them as best we can.
What is your favourite part of the role?  I love it when a patient expresses gratitude and feels truly helped along on their journey.  I also love working with the team. We all pull together to try and help patients. Despite the pressures it’s a lovely atmosphere.  It’s very fulfilling. It’s what gets me up in the morning.

(We send our sincere thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by the PPG)

Useful Tip - Having your Blood pressure measured (at home or at surgery)

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and smoking 30mins before the test.
  • Sit quietly for 5 minutes before the test begins.
  • Don’t talk during the measurement

Have you recently been approached by a friendly person in Whitstable offering you an ‘on the spot’ blood pressure check?

Well it is highly likely that you have already been introduced to one of our PPG members involved in the campaign associated with a nation-wide aim to reduce deaths from heart attack and stroke.

CVD Prevent = Cardio Vascular Disease Prevention

There are lots of reasons why heart disease raises its ugly head One of the most important signals of heart irregularities are elevated Blood Pressure Readings  

Know Your Numbers

Whitstable Medical Practice is involved in the national ‘patient involvement’ project “Hypertension Heroes”.  So we, your PPG, are organising some local Blood Pressure awareness sessions.
Here you can see the Lord Mayor of Canterbury – Jean Butcher who was happy to become involved by having her blood pressuretaken at a recent open day event at Whitstable’s Umbrella Centre.  

However, you don’t have to wait to see us to get up to speed on your ‘numbers’.  You can check your blood pressure whenever you pop into any of the Whitstable Medical Practice sites, Whitstable, Chestfield and Estuary View.

You will find the equipment in the entrance, or the reception area.  Give yourself five minutes to relax.  Do your reading, and pass it to a Patient Coordinator so it can be noted on your records.


Do you wish to share your records?

Health and care records are confidential to you, unless you have authorised others to have access and make decisions. They must be acting on your behalf, with your consent, or have legal authority. You can do this by applying for a Lasting Power of Attorney on the following link

It is quicker to apply for Lasting Power of Attorney if you can do it online, if you complete paper forms, even without any mistakes it can take 20 weeks to register. To register a LPA costs £82.00
If you need help deciding if you should make a LPA, contact The Office of the Public Guardian

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 09.30am to 5pm
Wednesday, 10 am to 5pm

Useful Tip - Having a 24 hour or 7 day heart monitor fitted?

Wear loose clothing - allowing wires to be threaded under clothing …..


Vaccination News

Shingles vaccination

If you are eligible for a Shingles vaccine, you will be contacted by WMP.

From September 2023 people aged 50 years and over with a severely weakened immune system can apply for the vaccination against this unpleasant and painful condition. Healthy people aged 50-70 years will become eligible for the vaccine over the next 5 years.

Shingles can occur more than once even if you’ve had Chicken Pox. The virus remains dormant in the central nervous system and can be triggered by a stressful event.  Why - we do not know. The rash follows a nerve in the body and so can be quite wide spread, and can possibly leave you with permanent pain.

It is interesting to note that people cannot get Shingles from you, but they can get Chicken Pox if they have not had it before. You are particularly contagious if your shingles rash is oozing.  

So, if you have are invited to have your Shingles vaccination, please consider it. 

Off to Uni next September? 

Are you up to date with your vaccinations…

  • MenACWY - protecting against 4 common strains causing meningitis and septicaemia.
  • MMR  - protecting against measles, mumps, rubella.
  • HPV  - for both male and female students - protecting against cervical and other cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) together with genital warts.

If you are eligible for

  • Flu & Covid
  • Vaccinations
  • Please Book your
  • Appointments for your Autumn boosters

Be prepared. You know it makes sense

Useful Tip - Going to see your doctor? Speak to your doctor? Or other health care professionals?

  • Make a note of the reason you are there – with your most important symptom first.  

Contact information – Websites links – Telephone numbers

  • The Whitstable Umbrella Centre
  • Problems with transport to health-related appointments? The Red Zebra’s Volunteer Car Service may be able to come to your rescue.  They have a waiting list at the moment – but are reviewing their user list in September.  So if you wish to learn more about their Volunteer Car Service please ring their Volunteer car service 01227 271111  or look at their website 
  • Need help with financial support contact KCC via their website
  • Canterbury Food Bank. If you need support please call 01227 936 450 (option 3)
  • Haven Project: Are you homeless or lonely in the Whitstable area? Visit our website