What are Group Consultations?
A group consultation usually lasts 90 minutes compared to the usual 10-minute appointment. Patients with the same medical conditions are invited to the group consultation by the clinician leading the session. Before Covid-19 we ran face to face group consultations. We now intend to provide video or virtual group consultations so that patients can be reviewed safely in their own homes.
The benefits for patients are:
- Patients want to spend longer with their clinician to have time to discuss the things that matter to them. The clinicians taking part in the group consultations are GPs, nurses and clinical pharmacists who work at the surgery and who have a particular interest in the care of patients with a particular health issue such as diabetes or asthma.
- Patients say that meeting others with the same health issues boosts their confidence, makes them feel less isolated and helps them to understand their health issues better
- Patients want regular follow up and to understand their condition so they can take control and manage their health issues better. Group consultations support this by giving you longer with your clinician.
What do patients think about Group Consultations?
Don’t take our word for it. See the link below for what patients think about their experience of group consultations:
During the Covid-19 crisis we will be offering virtual group consultations for the following conditions:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
We will spend time talking about your medical condition with a section of time devoted to how to stay healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will be sending invitations to patients that we have identified as those that might benefit from a group consultation.
If you have one of the above conditions and would like to join a group consultation then please register your interest.
Q: How will I benefit from a video group clinics?
A: People who have participated in face to face group clinics say that they enjoy hearing from other people in a similar situation and having longer to talk about their worries. They say they enjoy sharing their concerns, what has worked for them and what doesn’t, but also hearing from other people’s success. They report feeling a sense of belonging and that they are no longer alone in trying to manage their condition. During Covid-19 many of us have become more used to keeping in touch with family and friends via video. We think that patients will derive the same benefits from virtual group consultations as they do with face to face group clinics.
Q: Can I still have a one to one video or face to face consultation with my GP or nurse?
A: Yes, practices will always offer one to one appointments. Video group clinics are used as an alternative way to support those who want to join in.
Q: How do I join a video group clinic?
A: You will need an email account and a computer, tablet or mobile phone with internet access and access to the internet in a private place. You don’t need any special programs as you will be sent a link via an email to click on and access Microsoft Teams but you will need to use Chrome as your internet browser.
Q: Do I need to have any blood tests or checks before I join a video group clinic?
A: Your facilitator will write to you before your video group clinic to let you know if you need any particular tests and ask for your permission to share this information in the session (you can of course refuse!). It is also useful for you to have at hand any home recordings of weight, blood pressure and blood sugar readings for example.
Q: Can my partner, friend or carer join me in my video group clinic?
A: Yes, with your agreement. It is often very useful for carers or family members to join in. They will need to agree to confidentiality and confirm their identity just like other participants. Ideally you should keep to just one extra member or groups can get too large.
Video groups are particularly useful for this as a relative who lives at a different address can join in to support you.
Q: Can I record my video group session?
A: No, to ensure all information shared in the session is kept confidential and your privacy respected, you will be asked to adhere to the ‘VGC Patient Agreement’. This asks you not to record, share or post any aspect of the session. It’s in everyone’s interest to respect this.
Q: How is my health information kept confidential during a group?
A: All participants are requested to agree to a behavioural contract before they enter a group. This states that they agree not to share any information discussed within the group. Unlike the confidentiality regulations surrounding a doctor’s obligation to keep all information confidential, this is not enforceable by law. However, as a behavioural contract it is repeated throughout the group session and as all participants will be sharing personal information, it is thought that the chances of a confidentiality breach are low. We will ask your consent to share limited information about your condition that relates to the group topic. This information will be shared with the group in the form of a results board. For example, in a diabetes group this might include blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. If you do not wish to share this information you do not have to.
All clinicians and facilitators at Wokingham Medical Centre have been given training and support in confidentiality and information sharing. The platforms we use encrypt and meet the NHS cybersecurity quality requirements. NHS England and Information Commissioners Office advise behavioural contracts are in place to support this.