Patient Group Minutes




Meeting: Monday November 13, 2023, 5.00pm to 7.30pm

In attendance 

For the Practice: Ravi Iyer (RI) (PM), Dr Mike Harvey (MH)

Apologies: Melanie McInnerney (MI), David Townsend (DT)

For the PPG: Wendy Bardell (WB) (Chair), Simon Bull (SB),  Rosie Claxton (RC),  Caro Cluskey (CC), Tony Hayday (TH), Richard Mais (RM), Nick Thorne (NT), Andrew Scott-Clark (AS-C)


Matters arising from the minutes.


This proposed switch is most likely to take place in January.

Digital Inclusion

Simon has been working on this with KCC, but it was poorly thought-out from the outset and has not progressed as expected. Simon will continue to pursue.

Paediatric Immunisation survey

extremely poor response rate, but positive feedback so far. The survey will be re-distributed in the hope of a better response.

Raising PPG profile locally

All practices are keen for this to happen. Individual practice articles were sent to the PCN which intended to create a PPG article for publication. Due to PCN work pressures, it has been a low priority. We hope an article might appear in the next IN SHAPE. (Sevenoaks District Council Newsletter)



Thank you to Richard for his many years of service to Amherst PPG, his loyalty to the group is very much appreciated and valued, he will be missed. Richard wishes to continue as a volunteer to support the Practice.

We are looking for a new PPG member and WB had hoped a parent might come forward following our paediatric immunisation survey. We also have an enthusiastic past member who has expressed an interest in re-joining the PPG.


Expressions of interest for new chair

Melanie had sent an email sharing her thoughts on future chair of our PPG. There were no expressions of interest from those present.

Nor for minutes secretary. It was suggested that the minute taking could be on a rota basis? although a previous rota experiment had not been a success.

RI is happy to have a discussion with Melanie regarding the specific points she raised in her email regarding the new PPG chair prior to our next meeting. The new chair would be in post from June 2024.

RC said she had an informal discussion with four other PPG members who were keen to have a chair with some past NHS experience and Dr Kate Lay ad Dr Ricard Husband were mentioned. RM supported this idea. It was noted that prior to WB there was a lay chair, and it was felt the PPG did not thrive under his guidance. The general consensus was that WB’s Practice/NHS background has been enormously beneficial. This will need further discussion at the February meeting. (NB Dr Kate Lay is not currently a member of the Amherst patient list so could not be chair, although she may join AMP in the future and would be keen to support the PPG)


Practice Update

In September the practice suffered a break in, security has since been upgraded. The practice has recently endured two power cuts which interrupted the services. And a recent major computer failure on one day from 8am to 5pm caused severe disruption in the practice.

There have been some difficulties among the nursing staff due to a resignation. A new nurse has been recruited and will commence in January. To ease the nursing pressure travel vaccinations have been temporarily suspended. There is now a travel service in the local pharmacy community, but any patient records are not fed back to the practices which means the onus is on the patient to be aware of their personal requirements and, of the necessity to keep their own records.

RC enquired if the practice considered using bank nurses. RI The practice has a policy of not using any clinical locum services, not least because they are very expensive.

The practice is currently planning to recruit reception and administration staff to fill vacancies. The secretary who took on the GP assistant training is still mainly a secretary but can support doctors with medical insurance claims and other services. The practice also has a clinical GP assistant who supports health checks, blood tests and ECGs.


Suggestions from the practice any action for the PPG.

MH suggested it would be helpful if the PPG could assist with disseminating information encouraging patients not to request GP appointments for minor illnesses. Patients are still very reluctant to accept the care navigation offered from the trained receptionists. There are posters and leaflets available in the practice, but patients seem to be ignoring this advice.

WB suggested more information could be available on the website and we could review the posters in the waiting room.

NT enquired whether receptionist receive training in care navigation. RI confirmed they have the training and all the appropriate tools to signpost, but patients are just not receptive.

RI explained that 3 clinical members are providing a minor illness service which covers every weekday.

AS-C reported that it takes five consultations to change patient behaviour. Amherst GPs continue to educate patients when a different member of the team could have better served the patients’ needs.

Take home point for the Feb meeting: suggestions on how information available can be more widely shared.



The newsletter was in the process of being sent out to the patients. Not everyone had received this as it was reported by the administrator that she had a limit of 650 bulk emails a day (However, WB later learnt this was a typing error and the mailing limit is 6,500; a day the newsletter was sent out in two batches)

Amherst news has already feedback into the amp.ppg email account and WB will report back at the next meeting. It takes several weeks to pull together all the articles for the newsletter, and we currently produce two per year


Latest children’s immunisations survey feedback

SB reports a disappointing result of only thirty-nine responses in a 2-week period. (See matters arising


Reception concerns regarding excessive phone calls

SB flagged up reception concerns regarding excessive phone calls about blood test appointment reminders and secretaries’ new phone times. RI said that the reception team were fully briefed to expect additional calls and continue to advise that that reception cannot help with secretary enquiries.

There is no direct-booking blood test appointment system on the horizon so these will continue to be booked via the receptionist. RI will add a post to the website that patients should make a note of their appointment time as no reminders are issued for this type of appointment.


Earwax removal via microsuction at the practice

NT highlighted the micro suction clinic at St Johns and wondered, now this service was no longer available whether Amherst offer this it. MH commented that this is a locally commissioned service and is currently available at Borough Green medical practice for the PCN community. The service requires expensive equipment, a trained clinician, and a suitable workplace The Amherst currently do not have any clinical space available nor an appropriately trained clinician. MH suggested that AMP could investigate this as a potential future service for the community.

(WB Follow up: The micro suction service officially closes at St Johns in December)


Suggestions for website corrections and updates

NT enquired about the process and contact for suggesting website updates and improvements. RI advised these can be sent via the chair WB to the PM RI.


Amherst Sevenoaks Car Park

Having spent time as volunteer during the covid clinics NT had noticed various car park incidents and difficulties in the car park. He had produced a comprehensive survey which had been distributed to members prior to the meeting. In recent years car widths had increased by 17% and AMP patients are getting older, with perhaps the propensity for less-safe driving skills. NT was proposing the practice should have the car park redesigned by an expert with a view to some widening of spaces which would reduce the number of spaces by four.

RC said that her car had been hit during the clinics, but no serious damage.

RM commented about poor reversing by some patients.

TH had noted incident of cars parking too close and doors hitting parked cars.

CC said that the car park could be improved very little cost.

Due to the pre –meeting circulation of NT’s report RI had the opportunity to discuss the proposals with the Partners who were not supportive because as owners of the business the building and the car park they receive rental per space, from the NHS and could not afford to reduce this income stream.

NT also raised additional concerns regarding the crumbling speed humps, and concerns about patients who enter via the vehicle entrance rather than the clear pathway designed for the pedestrians. MH said the partners were considering improved lighting for the car park, and at the same time they discuss car park safety including clearer lines between spaces. RI to report back in February.


Promoting blood pressures sent in via the website

WB It has come to light that there are various methods for patients submitting requested blood pressure results and patients seem to be finding it hard to submit averages. There is a very good bp reporting form on the practice website. Some of the difficulties arise because patients do not respond to the accuRx message within one day, do not have the use of Excel,and when using Patient Access to submit BP readings you cannot submit an average. Some further work is required to assist the patient and secretaries.



RI thanked all the members for their support during the covid clinics, it really does help the practice and saves the cost of deploying at least one staff member.

The group all commented on the consistent early arrival of patients to the clinics. RI said this has always been the case, everyone wanting to be first in the queue when the sessions open. There had been one complaint from an extremely rude patient who was concerned that patients were left waiting outside when it was especially cold.

NT raised a concern regarding the form that patients complete as there is only a tick box for consent and no signature. He proposed the practice improve this for next year.

MH remarked that a patient presenting their arm for a vaccination is giving their acceptable consent.

AS-C enquired about AMP uptake Covid vaccinations, RI commented this had reduced to around 74%

WB Raising the profile of the PPG in the practice: There used to be a PPG noticeboard. We are requesting this to be re-instated in a central position in the waiting area opposite the stairs, with an enlarged newsletter, photo of members and other information about the PPG. TH has agreed to manage the relocation and maintenance of the noticeboard. CC has agreed to put together some material highlighting the work of the PPG.

The meeting closed at 7:30pm.


Next meeting

February 19, 2024

May 13, 2024