About Balham Park Surgery Patient Group

Since 2015, it has been a requirement for all practices to have a Patient Group. In fact, our Patient Group began work in 2000, organised by Natalie Whyte, the Managing Partner, who champions the value of patient involvement. The group is patient-led and we believe it to be amongst the most active in southwest London.

Our fundamental aims are

  • To improve primary healthcare and good health by increasing patient involvement and working collaboratively with the surgery
  • To provide an easy way for patients to communicate their comments and ideas and to receive information

From the start, we wanted to communicate with and involve as many patients as possible. We currently have 6000+ members, most of whom receive the regular BPSPG newsletters and notifications of special events by email. Newsletters are also distributed via the surgery and can be read on this site.

The BPSPG notice board, prominently positioned in the waiting area in the surgery, displays contacts and interesting information for patients. Anyone wanting to get in touch can leave a note for the group at Reception or email us at patientgroup.balhamparksurgery@nhs.net

The Patient Group was active in campaigning for extended opening hours and, more recently, it was instrumental in the retention of an Ultrasound service at the Surgery serving BPS and the wider community. Our major focus in 2019 was to raise awareness of online medical services and to work with the Surgery on your behalf to make them more effective for your needs.

We hold monthly meetings at which any patient is warmly welcomed. These meetings are also attended by the Managing Partner, one of the doctors and staff members, so that the group can be updated on practice matters and can pass on patient ideas and concerns direct to key practice staff.

Once a year, at our AGM, we agree our objectives for the coming year and review our progress on the objectives for the past year.

We take part in NHS consultations, both local to Wandworth and national, ensuring that the views of our patients are heard.

We hold regular education talks at the surgery, open to all patients, on a wide range of health topics.

We issue monthly news bulletins on the website covering matters local to the surgery as well as providing coverage of NHS and PCT issues which will have an impact on us as patients. Twice a year, we publish a Newsletter (both electronically and via paper copies) which is distributed to all patients who have registered to receive it.

We act as champions of the practice and work with staff to improve health care and patients’ understanding of health issues.


Balham Park Surgery Patient Liaison Group

Our patient group was initiated in February 2000 but its origins lay in four earlier meetings organised by Natalie Whyte, the Managing Partner, who recognised the value of patient involvement. It was always her intention that any group should be patient led and following the formation of an ad-hoc committee in September 1999, a more formal organisation was set up.

The fundamental aims were

  • To provide an information service which would give patients better access to the services they need and
  • To increase patient involvement and interest in working collaboratively to improve primary healthcare and good health.

From the start, it was the intention to communicate with and involve as many patients as possible. BPSPLG’s membership is now “opt in” for new patients under GDPR Guidelines. We currently have 6000+ members most of whom receive the regular BPSPLG newsletters and notifications of special events by email with the rest by normal post. Newsletters are also distributed via the surgery and can be read on this site.

The BPSPLG Notice board prominently positioned in the waiting area in the surgery displays the committee contact list and current notices. Anyone wanting to get in touch with BPSPLG can leave a note for the committee at Reception-we have our own mailbox which is checked regularly.

Notable Achievements

Notable achievements include the 2002 Royal College of General Practitioners Patient Participation Award which enabled us to equip and run yoga classes for patients referred by clinicians. These proved so popular that the classes have continued to the present. Class members now contribute to the cost and classes have expanded to two a week.

Another notable success related to the defence of the early morning and late night surgeries of the Practice in 2005.  The Primary Care Trust attempted to remove the funding for that service and the successful outcome of our campaign to preserve it went to the heart of what the Liaison Group could achieve on behalf of all patients. It involved taking the matter amongst others to the Wandsworth Overview and Scrutiny Committee as well as involving local media and BBC London radio and TV.

We also organised and hosted back in 2003 a Patient Participation outreach seminar, with the Primary Care Trust’s backing, for patients and staff from other practices, to share our early experiences of setting up BPSPLG.

More recently the Patient Group worked with the Managing Partner when the Ultrasound Clinic held at the Surgery was withdrawn at short notice. The Patient Group approached the Wandsworth CCG to draw attention to the importance of the service to our patients and more widely to the local community. Succeeding in getting the service reinstated under a new provider with minimum delay.

Aims & Objectives 2021/22

  • Widen methods of communication to encourage increased participation in group
  • Focus on Communication Strategy between practice and patients, using all available channels and encouraging those patients who have no access to IT, whose first language is not English and who may have difficulty reading.
  • Arrange education talks using all available methods.
  • Continue to publish the Bulletin online and in hard copy, frequency to be discussed
  • Monitor all feedback, complaints and statistics on Practice performance and highlight patterns and issues
  • Continue to act as a sounding board and critical friend to BPS and provide timely feedback to both practice and patients
  • Help patients understand the different ways of accessing services within the Practice
  • To act as champions for the BPS
  • To encourage support for Practice activities by co-ordinating volunteers
  • To create and maintain links with other healthcare organisations

Use the patient group email to join our meetings, give us feedback or make any observations, comments or suggestions you might have.


Name: The name of the group shall be ‘THE BALHAM PARK SURGERY PATIENT LIAISON GROUP’ (the Group) based at the Balham Park Surgery, Balham High Road, London SW17.

Association: The Group shall be affiliated to the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.) and be governed by the rules of the N.A.P.P.

Aims & Objectives:

  1. To help Doctors and Surgery staff to provide, and patients to obtain, the best possible healthcare through discussions at regular meetings with surgery staff deliberating on local and national health issues.
  2. Contribute to patient satisfaction through opinion surveys and other means, including the examination of complaints, as well as monitoring the performance and targets set by the Practice.
  3. Produce two newsletters for Practice patients per annum which will contain appropriate information on local and national health matters.
  4. Organise as required appropriate educational seminars on health matters suggested by patients which will be open to all patients of the Practice.
  5. Monitor activities of Wandsworth Primary Care Trust and assess the effect any decisions or developments proposed by the Primary Care Trust may have on patients of the Practice.
  6. Ensure that the Group has a wide and representative membership from the Balham Park Surgery patient population.


Membership shall be open to all patients and staff of the Practice regardless of ethnicity, disability, age or sexual orientation.


The committee shall consist of three officers-a Chairman (revolving), Secretary and Treasurer-and at least six other Committee members nominated and elected annually. The Committee shall endeavour to meet at least six times in any period between two Annual Meetings. Four members plus one officer shall constitute a quorum. The Committee may co-opt up to two people. Co-opted members are not eligible to vote. All patients and staff of the Practice shall be entitled to attend all committee meetings.


All sums collected by the Group shall be handed to the Treasurer who shall pay the same into an account in the name of the Group at such bank or building society as the Committee may from time to time decide. All cheques must be signed by two members of the Committee of whom one must be the Treasurer

Annual General Meeting

An AGM shall be held annually. Any item for the agenda shall be sent to the Secretary for consideration at least four weeks prior to the AGM date.

Election & Retirement of Committee Members

All officers and Committee may offer themselves annually for re-election at the AGM. If more than one nomination for an Officer is received then a vote must take place. In the event of a tie the Chairman has the casting vote.

Report and Account

The Committee shall present at each Annual General Meeting a report of the activities of the Group and its own proceedings during the previous year, with a statement of accounts up to the end of its financial year.


If upon winding up or dissolution there remains, after the satisfaction of all its debts and liabilities, any property whatsoever, the same shall be given or transferred to the Practice or the parent charity or other similar charity.

Notice and Application of Rules: Any member of the Group shall upon request be supplied with a copy of these rules.

Alteration to the Rules: Any of these rules may be rescinded, amended or waived by a resolution passed at an AGM or a Special Meeting of which proper notice will have been given to all members, by a two thirds majority of the members present and voting. Provided that no alteration shall be made which would cause the Group to cease being affiliated to N.A.P.P. Reg. Charity No 222992157.

Patient Group Meetings

BPSPG Meetings are currently being held on the second Wednesday of every month.

6.30pm -7.30pm via Zoom 

We plan to return to in-person meetings, held at the surgery, when conditions allow.

If you are interested in attending then please email Caroline, who will send you an invitation


Link for next meeting:


Meeting ID: 596 084 4672

Next Patient Goup Meeting: 8th June 2022



Patient Group Bulletin Issue 5

December 2021

Booster Clinics - “A Flippin’ Good Service”


This was one patient’s verdict on the COVID-19 vaccination booster clinics. We agree. BPS has now hosted five clinics at the Surgery with 1,826 patients getting the jab. The Partners decided to offer booster jabs at the Surgery  instead of sending patients to St George’s or to large sites elsewhere because, in Dr Patel’s words; “We wanted to offer a more individual service to our patients and not make it like a sausage factory”. Patients were pleasantly surprised at the speed of the process and by the quality of the care given. We are proud of the surgery staff who are working over the weekends and it is a reminder of how staff at BPS go the extra mile. The Patient Group organised a group of volunteers who by their helpful and cheery marshalling have made all the difference to the efficiency of the service – guiding people through the process and helping with forms; you will be happy to hear they do not actually give the jabs!

Great news!  We now have 2 extra clinics planned for early January– invitations will be sent out so please do not contact the surgery but wait to be offered a timed appointment. Alternatively, you can book online with any of the national vaccination centres or go to a  walk-in clinic. It is likely that more clinics will be arranged early in the new year at the Surgery.

We will need more volunteer marshals to help with the accelerated programme. We just ask for all volunteers to be double-vaccinated and to be able to do a minimum of two four hour shifts (arrangements subject to slight change). If you would like to help, email Caroline at patientgroup.balhamparksurgery@nhs.net

Do think about helping –  we really need your support, it’s fun and there’s a great buzz on the day.

Patient Survey

Questionnaires were sent out as part of a national survey to 2000 patients asking patients to rate their experiences of their health care. The low volume of responses was disappointing, only about 2% replied. Overall,  BPS patients are satisfied with the service they receive.  Special congratulations go to our care navigators under the management of Lorraine Hayles on the front line dealing with patients on a daily basis under difficult circumstances while  remaining friendly and courteous.

You can see the questions and replies below, together with local and national averages so you can compare with services elsewhere.


Where patient experience is best


Where patient experience could improve


84% of respondents find it easy to get through to this GP practice by phone.

Local (CCG) average 76%       National Average 68%


36% of respondents usually get to see their preferred GP when they would like to

Local (CCG) average 48%       National Average 45%


97 % of respondents say the healthcare professional they saw or spoke to was good at listening to them during their last general practice appointment

Local (CCG) average 90%       National Average 89%


69% of respondents say they have had enough support from local services or organisations in the last 12 months to help manage their long term condition(s)

Local (CCG) average 76%       National Average 74%


96% of respondents find the receptionists at this GP practice helpful

Local (CCG) average 90%       National Average 89%


69% of respondents were offered a choice of appointments when they tried to make a general practice appointment

Local (CCG) average 73%       National Average 69%


The Patient Group found some of the results to be surprising, for example the data shows that 84 % found it easy to get through by phone yet anecdotally we know the phone system is a common complaint. It was felt that more data was needed. If you want to comment on these findings, either to agree or to disagree; please write directly to the Patient Group or to Joanne Foley (Practice Manager) at swlccg.adminbalhamparksurgery@nhs.net

Q & A

The Patient Group has been working with the care navigators to launch a new way of answering patients’ questions, particularly those addressing the needs of younger patients.  From the new year, care navigators will ensure questions of general interest are recorded and answers put on the Q and A section of the website and  key topics will be published in the Bulletin.


How To Offer Feedback To The Surgery

It cannot be said often enough that this is a listening surgery. Shelby Gibbs, Interim  Practice Manager is clear about this and has asked the Patient Group to inform patients of the many ways their views can be heard – by a phone call, a note left at reception, online via the website “contact us” page or an email to: swlccg.adminbalhamparksurgery@nhs.net. Feedback can take many forms: a complaint, a suggestion,  and, not  to be forgotten, by means of a compliment. Last month, a patient received a  text message late on a  Friday and suffered sleepness nights over the weekend. She mentioned this to Shelby who took the point immediately. As a result, all texts are being reviewed and further scrutiny is being given to patient communication generally with help from the patient group. We sincerely ask you to bring to our attention any communication that is unclear and requires clarification.


Getting In Touch With The Surgery

The practice is aware of patients experiencing  delays in getting in touch by phone and this is discussed regularly at patient group meetings. To put this in perspective, on a typical day 350 incoming calls are handled. To help reduce the wait time on the telephone, we encourage patients to try and contact us about non-urgent queries in alternative ways. Patients can use the NHS app or other online access apps/ websites to book routine appointments, request prescriptions and view parts of their medical records. We strongly advise against using any of the messaging services offered on various apps such as MyGP or Patient Access because the Surgery cannot guarantee to respond to them.  Best to email the practice at swlccg.adminbalhamparksurgery@nhs.net with administrative queries, for example to access online services, request a copy of a letter/ result, chase referrals or to request repeat prescriptions etc. Please do not email with clinical questions or to book an appointment. A list of email addresses can be found on the websites “contact us” page here.


Update on Appointments

The booking situation for GPs and others has eased and patients can choose telephone or face to face appointments.  Telephone appointments can be booked directly online via the usual services (NHS/MyGP/Patient Access) while face to face appointments need to be booked via reception. For online triage and bookings, try Dr Link for new conditions. All other types of appointments are back to normal. Patients are urged to try to book online whenever possible to reduce pressure on the telephone system  – for routine appointments this really is the quickest way.


Contacting The Patient Group

The patient group wishes to hear more regularly from patients and invites patients to refer to them so they can be sure to represent everyone on the patient list.  While they cannot take up individual cases, they can often advise on the best way of handling the matter or may undertake to raise  the issue at the next monthy meeting anonymously. Write to the patient group,  either directly to caroline@wentzel.co.uk or Lynne at lynne@westhead2.plus.com or contact via the surgery at patientgroup.balhamparksurgery@nhs.net


Young People Suffering from Mental Health

Sadly, the pandemic has affected young people’s mental health badly and there has been a surge in referrals. If you are worried yourself or on behalf of another, don’t hesitate to book to see a GP.


BPS Goes Green: Green Inhalers

Balham Park Surgery is committed to taking steps to ensure  that the prescribing practice is environmentally friendly. Aleksandra Gawlik Lipinski (Advanced Clinical Practitioner Trainee/Practice Nurse)  has issued the following advice:  popular meter-dose inhalers (aerosol-based) contain powerful greenhouse gases and have a high carbon footprint but there are other equally effective and more environmentally friendly options such as dry-powder inhalers. They are easy to use and do not require spacers or the level of coordination that is needed for meter-dose inhalers. A few  patients, including some young children, are however unable to use dry powder inhaler. The Surgery may contact you to discuss a change of the inhaler device in the next few months, but please be assured that, if a meter dose inhaler is the right choice for you, you will stay on that treatment. If you are interested in changing your inhaler to a dry-powder inhaler, please book an appointment with your practice nurse  or our pharmacist, Romy Kalsi, who will be able to advise. For more information please follow:  Green Inhaler – Making your inhaler more environmentally friendly


Long Covid – Post Covid  by Dr Clare Macmichael,  GP Partner, BPS

Early on in the pandemic, we heard of people who were unable to shake off the illness and suffered from lingering symptoms. Now officially called “Post Covid”, this ocurrs when patients have symptoms persisting beyond 12 weeks after infection.

Acute Covid – 1-4 weeks

Ongoing Covid – 4-12 weeks

Post Covid – 12 weeks plus

Symptoms vary between patients but also day to day. Common symptoms are fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, chest pains, aching muscles, loss of taste and smell, and brain fog. Curiously, it doesn’t seem to be related to the severity of the initial illness. The message from the Surgery is not to ignore the problem  or worry you are being a nuisance  – you are not – but contact the Surgery and see your GP. They are there to help.


The initial role of a GP treating Post Covid is to exclude acute or life-threatening complications and other unrelated diagnoses and arrange further investigations or referrals if needed, such as blood tests/chest x-ray/ECG etc. The GP will then advise patients on the best way to manage the condition themselves which may include:


Patients with symptoms persisting more than 12 weeks may be referred to a Post Covid Community Clinic but only after all other possible causes have been excluded. This clinic is run for the most part virtually by a team of GPs, physios, occupational therapists, psychologists, dieticians and hospital consultants. If you think you have or might have Post Covid please don’t delay – make a GP appointment now.

All patients who have been in ITU with COVID should have had a follow-up arranged by the hospital. If this was not arranged for you,  please contact the Surgery.


Physician Associates  

The Surgery has appointed its Physician Associate (PA) and hopes soon to secure a second one. These recruitments are part of a government-backed scheme to help with the growing workload of GPs. PAs are a new kind of healthcare professional who, while not doctors, have received extensive training and have  the attitudes, skills and knowledge base to deliver holistic care and treatment as part of the general medical and/or general practice team. They work in conjunction with the existing general practice team under defined levels of supervision. Our PAs go through a rigorous selection and training programme – they are all graduates and have undergone a 2-year training course at St Georges. We have been fortunate to have had some  2nd year PA trainees attached  to the practice and they have been really impressive.


PAs carry out a variety of jobs in general practice. They can assess, manage and treat patients of all ages with a variety of acute, undifferentiated and chronic conditions. PAs can see patients with acute symptoms for scheduled appointments and carry out triage assessments, make home visits, visit nursing and residential homes, make referrals, manage patients with long-term chronic conditions, review and act on laboratory results, advise on family planning, carry out baby checks, teach and supervise students. PAs can also help out with Quality and Outcome Framework targets and, with appropriate training, run specialist clinics within surgeries such as conducting minor ops. The levels at which the PAs can work will depend on their skills and experience and also the skills and experience of their supervising physician. All PAs are trained to be aware of the levels and to work within the limits of their clinical competence. Here at BPS, the plan is to incorporate  PAs initially into our On call/On the day team to help with telephone calls and face to face appointments.


We are enthusiastic about this initiative and are confident patients will benefit hugely from their presence and professionalism.


Digital  Record of Covid Vaccinations

Nowdays, we are all frequently asked  to provide evidence of our vaccination status for travel, hospitality or entertainment etc.  A card with details is handed out at the time of vaccination but you may find it more convenient  to show a digital record on your smart phone. One of the easiest ways to access this information is via the NHS App where you will find your immunisation status is automatically recorded, including details of boosters (there may be a delay of up to three weeks for the information to be added). If you have not got this usefull app already, why not give it a go:  download the NHS App via Apple Store or Google Play.  (Note this is completely separate from the NHS Covid 19 track and trace app.) If you do not have a smart phone or tablet, you can call 119 for a paper copy. GP practices cannot issue COVID Passes.


Reading Suggestions

Brainstorm: Detective Stories From the World of Neurology by Susanne O’Sullivan, more interesting cases from this highly readable neurologist.

Vaxxers: The Inside Story of the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and the Race Against the Virus by Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green – the title says it all.

Breathtaking: The UK’s Human Story of Covid by Rachel Clarke. Written by a pallative care doctor, a heavy subject but Rachel Clarke  brings to life the admirable spirit of the NHS and its patients.

For kids: Kay’s Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body by  Adam Kaye. An amusing and light hearted way of helping children with biology. ”Totally brilliant, it’s ultra-child friendly and chatty”  says Jacqueline Wilson.

Spring Clean Event - 2nd April 2022


Members of the Patient Group joined the Beautify Balham Action group who offered to clear up the alley leading off Marius Road to the Surgery. Unfortunately, the passage way is constantly littered by fly tipping and it is used for drinking and by drug users etc. The rubbish and the poor condition of the road surface make this a hazardous place for patients to walk and the practice encourages patients to use the front entrance but sometimes this path is the most convenient. It is a running sore and expensive for the surgery to pay for cleaning. After the clean up the passage way looked so much better and so the patient group plans to organise regular clean ups four times a year – any one who wants to help can email Caroline at patientgroup.balhamparksurgery@nhs.net

Patient Group Virtual Christmas Party

The Patient Group continued with our usual tradition of holding a Christmas party in place of the regular December meeting. This year we held it on Zoom – everyone provided their own tipples and nibbles.   Several members from the surgery joined us after a long day at work, further evidence, as if we needed it, of their support for the Patient Group. Lorraine, manager of the Care Navigator team,  joined us late because she had been calling patients eligible for vaccinations and answering all their questions. Everyone arrived on screen with funny hats. Dr Swanne sported a fancy set of reindeer antlers while Lynne lit up our screens with an illuminated cowboy hat. The group raised hats to the NHS and in particular to all the extraordinarily committed staff at the surgery – it was lovely to have an opportunity to thank them in person. Monica read us a poem which is widely reported to be an old poem written in the late C19th century or even during the Spanish flu epidemic but is now known to have been written this year by Kitty O’Meara, an American teacher. It expresses the feelings of many of us, so we leave you with the text to sum up the experiences of 2020.


And people stayed home

and read books and listened

and rested and exercised

and made art and played

and learned new ways of being

and stopped

and listened deeper

someone meditated

someone prayed

someone danced

someone met their shadow

and people began to think differently

and people healed

and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,

dangerous, meaningless and heartless,

and even the earth began to heal

and when the danger ended

and people found each other

grieved for the dead people

and they made new choices

and dreamed of new visions

and created new ways of life

and healed the earth completely

just as they were healed themselves

Self Care Week! 16th November - 22nd November

Click the image above to visit our Self Help Page! 

Patient Group Newsletters

The Patient Group no longer issues newsletters. These have been replaced by shorter Bulletins issued four times a year. If you would like to receive this electronically and are not on the mailing list email swlccg.adminbalhamparksurgery@nhs.net to go on the distribution list. If you prefer to receive a paper version this is available in the reception waiting room.


The Patient Group has revised the way meetings are held and has moved (temporally) to meeting via Zoom. In this way, it is hoped more patients will be able to participate. Further details of changes and new initiatives are outlined in the Newsletter. 

If you have not already signed up for the Newsletter which comes out two or three times a year,  then please consider signing up by writing to Caroline (Chair) or Lynne (Secretary) at patientgroup.balhamparksurgery@nhs.net.

 The Patient Group is always willing to receive your feedback and comments but regrets it cannot take up individual health concerns. 

 Thank you 

Balham Park Surgery

Education Talks

From time to time at one of our BPSPLG Meetings, we have our GP’s or guest speakers hold educational talks about a variety of health topics that may be of general interest.

Please click on the following links if you would like to learn more about these talks.


PLEASE NOTE: These have been suspended during the pandemic. The Patient Group looks forward to holding them again in the education room when it is safe to do so.

Menopause Video Podcast 11/03/2020

By Dr Tulasi Chadalavada

Practice/ Patient Communication Channels – Let us know what you think!

We are starting a project with the surgery to look at communication channels for patients.

We want to know your opinions! Please complete our survey on the following link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SXWCHL5

Menopause Podcast