Shepherds Spring Medical Centre

Group Clinics at Shepherds Spring Medical Centre Patient FAQ

Q: What are group clinics?

A: Group clinics (also known as Group Consultations or Shared Medical Appointments) are a way for you to join people with similar health issues and consult with your GP, nurse or other health professional for longer. A standard one-to-one appointment typically lasts less than 10 minutes. In a group clinic you will often be with your clinician(s) for 60-90 minutes and will also benefit from the knowledge and support of other group members.

We are currently trialling this new method of offering you healthcare and welcome your feedback.

Q: Have group clinics been tried before and what do patients think about them?

A: Yes, there is evidence that patients find this approach empowering for example a study evaluating the implementation of this approach in Croydon found that:

“The vast majority of patients awarded the process top marks and would recommend to a friend. Patients scored all aspects of the consultations that were measured higher than for their usual care, finding them more relaxed and enjoying regular review of their health issues and medicines, being able to raise questions that mattered to them, and having more time with the doctor.”

Q: How will I benefit from a group clinics?

A: People who have participated in 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 and learning 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.

Q: Can I still have a one-to-one consultation with my GP or nurse?

A: Yes, the practice will always offer standard one-to-one appointments. Group clinics are used as an extra way to support those who want to join in.

Q: How do I know a group clinic is for me?

A: You can have a look through the resources on our website (link) including the animations which describe the process. Group consultations might not suit everyone, if you are feeling anxious beforehand, let the facilitator know. It is OK to join a group just to listen and learn from other peoples’ questions and experience. You are not obliged to ask a question in the one-to-one section of the group. Some people may even join in and decide to leave if it isn’t right for them and book a one-to-one appointment later.

Q: What happens in a group clinic?

A: You will be welcomed by a member of the clinical team who will be the session facilitator. They will start the session by reminding everyone in the group to keep information confidential.

They will then explain how the session will flow and each member of the group (often 8-10 participants) will introduce themselves. You will have time to review and understand any results you have agreed to share such as blood pressure, weight, blood test results etc. and come up with questions for your clinician. Your clinician will then join the group and you will have a brief discussion about the session topic (e.g. nutrition, physical activity, sleep etc). The clinician will then have one-to-one consultations with each member of the group. During this time other group members may join in to share ideas and problem-solve together, when invited to do so. The facilitator will wrap up after 60-90 minutes and you might want to set goals for yourself.
Following the group, you are still able to make a one-to-one appointment to go through anything you didn’t want to share in the group situation, or your clinician may advise you to arrange follow-up tests or appointments if needed.

Q: What happens if I change my mind when I’m in a group clinic?

A: If you feel a group clinic isn’t working for you, let the facilitator know and you can leave and book a one-to-one appointment at your GP practice in the normal way. We welcome feedback so let your facilitator know if you think things could be improved. You will need to maintain the confidentiality of anything that was shared within the group even if you choose to leave.

Q: Can patients form their own groups after a group clinic?

A: Yes, some patients find that it is helpful to create support groups with other patients they have met to help each other stick to goals for example.

Q: Do I need to have any blood tests or checks before I join a group clinic?

A: Your facilitator will let you know before your group clinic if you need any particular tests and ask for your permission to share this information in the session. You can of course decline to share but, as other people will be sharing this information, you may then be asked to arrange a one-to-one appointment rather than participating in the group.

Q: Can I record or take photos of my 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 ‘Group Consultation 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: What happens if I am late joining my group?

A: You may not be allowed to join the group as it is important that everyone has agreed at the start to confidentiality. It also disrupts the group for others. You may be asked to book into another group clinic.

Q: How is my health information kept confidential during a group?

A: All participants are requested to sign up to a confidentiality agreement 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.

Your facilitator will ask your consent to share limited information about your condition that relates to the group topic. This information may be shared with the group in the form of a results board

Q: Is my personal information recorded and stored after a group clinic?

A: Relevant information from your consultation will be stored confidentially in your medical record in the same what that it would be after a one-to-one consultation with your GP or other clinician.

Any other questions?

If you have other questions, please get in touch with our Group Consultations team – you can request a call back or contact them directly via email.