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

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

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

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.

2020-2021 Objectives

  • To widen group membership in numbers and range
  • To focus on communication via the Practice website and online
  • To arrange two education talks a year
  • To publish monthly news bulletins
  • To monitor ‘Friends and Family’ surveys regularly
  • To continue to act as a sounding board and critical friend to BPS and provide timely feedback to both practice and patients
  • To take greater responsibility for sustainability in PG actions
  • To help patients navigate the different ways of engaging with the Practice post-Covid
  • To act as champions of BPS

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.


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.


Patient Group Bulletin Issue 3

March 2021

The Patient Group is proud to present our new logo and badge shown here for the first time!

These were commissioned after the group formally agreed to change the name from Patient Liaison Group to Patient Group which we think describes our role more simply. Lynne Burstall, a member of the patient group, who has a background in fashion, teamed up with Chantal from the surgery to design the logo which is based on the  existing Balham Park Surgery branding of a green tree image, suggesting regeneration and healthy growth.

We are delighted with the result which came about as a happy collaboration between the patient group and the Surgery. We hope that the logo will help patients readily identify information distributed by the patient group  Our email address is prominently displayed and we do look forward to receiving your messages and suggestions.

The Surgery has fully participated in the NHS’s magnificent vaccination programme, which continues at great pace.  Cohort 8 is now receiving  invitations and 59% of our adult patients  have had their first injections.

Meanwhile, this issue of the bulletin is mainly about self care, particularly exercise and good diet.   These are important now to help us maintain our health during the pandemic and will still be so once the pandemic has subsided. Being in lock down can easily result in us doing too little, causing  our muscles to lose condition (medically known as ‘muscle wastage’ or  ‘atrophy’). A popular myth is that muscle turns to fat – this is not the case, rather muscles waste or shrink from lack of use and we put on weight because we eat the same or even more though exercising less. The good news is muscle wastage is reversible if we get back to taking exercise, even when  we do so gently.   We should all take the advice of Captain Tom, who said “Put your best foot forward”.


The patient group pooled ideas about local places to help you get outdoors and keep active:

Lynne B suggests: “I find a walk with a cup of coffee or tea (with a friend when permitted) is great. Alone or together you can explore streets in the locality which you wouldn’t normally go down. Notice your neighbourhood: it’s great to look at the different house styles, details and improvements that have been made. It’s also good for inspiration for garden design, hard landscaping and planting. A friend of mine drew a circle on a map of one mile from her house and set herself the task of going down every single road to really get to know her own area”.

Rose, another  keen rambler, suggests a brisk walk to Clapham Common (Windmill Drive) – “the common is open 24 hours and makes a nice objective for a walk”, and if Honest Tom’s Snack Bar is open that’s an added bonus.

Caroline recommends online yoga which she found – to her surprise – helped ease persistent hip discomfort. “I like Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube best, she’s gentle and excellent at describing what to do. Her workouts (click  here) are aimed at beginners but there are lots of other teachers to guide you at your own pace. It’s fun to dig around and experiment, there is something for all levels and ages. Many sessions are free but a few are available at a modest subscription. Not yoga, but another possibility for gentle exercise aimed at older users is Use it or Lose it for £4.99 a month.”

Lynne W suggests something completely different: “When I visited Japan a few years ago I was struck both by the frenetic, neon-washed cities and by the fiercely protected, serene outdoor spaces, often woodlands. The Japanese words shrin-yoku mean immersing yourself in nature as a remedy to the worries of daily life, a practice which has been shown to benefit the immune system, to lower blood pressure and to aid sleep. The key is to really focus on your time in nature, leaving behind your phone and your map. You’re going to be walking slowly and aimlessly, not following any particular route, but soaking in the sights, smells and sounds of nature. A wood or forest is an excellent arena for this sort of walking, as it’s harder to follow a linear path and there is more to notice. Really look at the trees, the plants and the sky; if the weather is warm enough (and the ground not too muddy) lying underneath the canopy of a tree and looking up at the sky is very relaxing.

Forestry England have a helpful guide to forest bathing here:

Other suggestions include walking with a purpose:

  • Caroline likes to walk to Neil’s Garden Centre by Wandsworth prison and to reward herself by buying a small plant – walking means she cannot go mad stocking up with plants.
  • Set off to find Fishponds Playing Field behind Springfield Hospital – it has a playground suitable for 2 to 11 year olds with fun play equipment and it is open 8 am to 4 pm even during lockdown.
  • Listen to a podcast using ear plugs or ear buds when out walking to relieve boredom. BBC Sounds has a fabulous and varied selection of current and archived programmes,
  • Explore the area with the Balham to Tooting Beck Trail Podcast compiled by Neighborhood Network. This takes you on a one-hour walk between Balham and Tooting Beck Stations and points out places of interest – it’s quirky and informative. Podcast: Balham to Tooting Beck Trail
  • In a similar vein, a local history group shows flair for bringing history alive with a programme of self-guided walks (Great Escapes), highlighting interesting things en route: Summertown.
  • If you want to go further afield, an interesting project as Lockdown eases would be to walk The Capital Ring.

And for some other ideas for outdoor activities:

  • The Train Station Gym 1:1 offers outdoor personal training at Wandsworth Common.
  • Try out gardening. A unique local place is Thrive at Battersea Park near the childrens’ zoo which works with people with disabilities. It is closed at the moment but will open at the first opportunity. Meanwhile Thrive will send you gardening tips to get you and your family launched if you subscribe to Gardening Club: Gardening Club

We asked Stephanie, Social Prescriber at the practise, who is a qualified nutritionist, to share her thoughts on diet and healthy living.


For most of us, lockdown has meant a lot more time at home, with our usual routines and habits changed and forgotten.  I know how easily people can develop bad habits, such as lack of exercise and undisciplined eating.  Here are my suggestions for how these habits can be addressed.

The first step to achieving better eating and exercise habits is good planning:

Plan your meals before you shop.  Identify in advance all the ingredients you will need for meals that will leave you feeling fuller-for-longer.  That way you reduce the risk of an empty fridge or cupboard tempting you to buy fast foods – these may give you a quick energy rush, but the energy from fast foods is soon gone, leaving you feeling tired and still hungry. A good diet starts when you shop.

Plan in advance how to reduce potential snacking problems.  Avoid foods higher in refined sugar such as fruit juices or yogurts with added sugar. Instead, have available a range of healthy snacks, such as fresh fruits, nuts, rice cakes or veggie sticks with hummus and boiled eggs. You may find it helps if you portion out your snacks into small bowls or plates and think about sitting down before eating. This reduces the temptation to eat straight from the package or fridge.

Shop for health. Choose foods such as wholegrains, legumes (beans, oats, rice and lentils), fruits and other vegetables.  These are important to fuel us before and after exercise and these allow food to be broken down and used more readily for energy.

We should all ideally aim for at least 5 servings of different coloured vegetables per day, and 2 servings of fruit, to incorporate the varied essential micronutrients that are so important for gut health. One way to look at this is trying to eat colourfully – aim for a rainbow plate which kids can also enjoy.

Oily fish (such as tuna or salmon) and avocado are also excellent sources of long term energy and have many benefits such as being a protective factor against some diseases.

You should aim to vary your diet, so that over a period of days you eat a wide range of foods.

Eat regularly. Plan to eat 3 healthy meals per day and set regular meal times, even if you don’t feel as hungry as before. You may be exercising less or you may be snacking more. Think what adjustments you need to make.  It can be hard to keep track of time over lockdown but eating 3 meals spaced out through the day is important to keep a healthy body and mind, including the vitamins and minerals the body requires daily and giving us energy to keep active, complete tasks for work and daily life, as well as boosting immunity.  Such regular spacing helps your brain and body function.

Exercise and movement are a vital part of our nutrition programme. Fight inertia by creating an exercise routine, going for regular walks around the house or using opportunities as they arise; such as making TV add breaks a fun challenge to do a number of squats, push ups or steps.

Being more sedentary also means burning fewer calories.  On days we are less active we do not need fuel so quickly, so healthy fats such as seeds, nuts, avocado, oily fish and eggs are sufficient to give us enough longer-lasting energy around the home.

Boredom. During lockdown we may be bored with preparing food. Cooking for yourself or for the family day after day can be dull and time is very often at a premium.  You could plan to use a quieter time, over a weekend perhaps, to prepare some meals for the coming week.  Cook two or three times as much and pack the leftovers away in the freezer. For example, pasta (as part of a balanced diet), dahl, soups and stew all freeze extremely well – and they also can be packed with lots of vegetables (remembering of course to use as many different colours as possible to ensure our micronutrient needs are being met).

Make a splash for special occasions.  If you do have some spare time and are feeling inventive in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to experiment.  Look up some different recipes and use them as a way to teach kids about nutrition and the importance of a well-balanced diet, and encourage them to think about achieving this themselves.  The shared experience of Zoom cooking and dinners can create shared dietary encouragement.

Don’t forget the essentials:

A well rounded balanced diet is important for the correct intake of all vitamins and minerals which help the body function optimally.  These include Vitamin D which helps calcium to be absorbed by the body.  Sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D, though it is also present in oily fish, egg yolks and liver.

Adults are recommended to drink at least 2 litres (3.5 pints) of water per day. Hydration increases energy and relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, and flushes out toxins as well as other benefits.

In summary, setting regular times for waking, going to sleep, exercise and meals; planning  meals to make sensible choices at the shop and  sharing  meal ideas with family and friends are all great ways to support good habits.    In these difficult times, routines also help us to avoid becoming stressed and over-thinking.  Try not to put pressure on yourself, and aim to achieve your lifestyle changes by a series of small steps.

Stephanie Papalaskaris –  BPS Social Prescriber & Registered Associate Nutritionist (AU)

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 Newsletter Issue 34

The Patient Group has produced their first Newsletter since the onset of Coronavirus. We have taken the unusual step of mailing it out to the whole patient list via email and not just to the patients who have signed up for it. This is because many of the articles in the newsletter will be useful to all patients and we also wanted to remind patients of the work the Patient Group does on your behalf and encourage your participation. 

This issue is dedicated mainly to the pandemic. It includes articles on the progress of Covid-19 vaccinations, Long Covid,  how to book appointments, and making the most of remote appointments. There is also information about Self Care week (16 – 22 November) and there are some intriguing reading suggestions. As usual, the Newsletter concludes with news of staff changes. 

 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

 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.

Menopause Video Podcast 11/03/2020

By Dr Tulasi Chadalavada

Menopause Podcast