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Meet Catherine McLoughlin, Joint Chair, Lambeth Patient Participation Group Network

Tell us a bit about yourself
I moved to West Dulwich ten years ago, after retiring.  I love going to art galleries, theatre and operas, and with the number 3 bus right outside my door I can be in Oxford Street in 35 minutes.  It’s great around West Dulwich too. We’ve recently had a spring fair and an open house weekend for local artists.

Describe yourself in five words
‘Motivated enthusiastic contributor to local debate’ (Ok that’s six).  I like to be involved.  As well as my role with the Lambeth PPG Network and in my own practice as a PPG member, I’m an Associate Director of Imperial College NHS Trust and I’m on the Responsible Officer Advisory Group for NHS doctors in London.  I do some work for the Department of Health too.  I’ve worked in the NHS for many years and I was the inaugural Chair of the NHS Confederation.  I trained as a nurse originally. 

I’ve heard you have a CBE for services to the NHS?
Yes, that was an amazing honour.  You don’t know anything about it until they tell you you’re going to receive the award.  It was a lovely surprise.

How did you become involved in you GP practice patient group?
I knew the person who had started up the group at the practice and so I know about the group.  But I joined mainly because I was interested in managing my own health and I thought this would be useful.  The group has changed a lot in the ten years I’ve been at Paxton Green.  It used to be a paternalistic practice.  In the last 15 months or so we are getting into a different dialogue with the GPs.

We have recognised it’s a different world, that we as patients need to be more responsible for our own health.  I really want our group to help the practice, and to get patients to think more about taking care of themselves, abut preventive steps. 

What do you think are some of the main concerns for people using the NHS in in Lambeth?
I don’t think the public fully understands how the health service operates. There’s still a lot of work to do to engage with people to help them understand what they can do for themselves, what their GP can do, and what hospitals can do.  People will not have heard terms like self-management, but we have to help people to understand.  We need more self-management programmes, and more emphasis, as part of holistic health care conversations, on things like going for walks. We all know that makes sense. 

You’re Joint Chair of the Lambeth PPG Network – what do you hope the Network will achieve for patients in Lambeth?
A much wider participation across all Lambeth’s populations.  A meeting with a couple of hundred people from all practices, an open meeting.   I want our PPG Network to be discussing issues of concern for our members, and understanding how we can help improve things.  We want to help health services. 

I’d like there to be fewer people attending A&E and their GP practices. I’d like to see communities supporting one another.  There are short-term aims and long-term aims.  I want to see people keeping their families healthy and keeping themselves healthy.  It is a long road, but there are grounds for optimism - let’s remember, the NHS is only 60 years old!

Lambeth Patient Participation Group Network supports patient groups in GP practices to organise, offer feedback about services and to influence how the NHS in Lambeth is planned and paid for.  It receives funding from NHS Lambeth CCG, but it is an independent organisation that reflects and represents the patient voice.  

If you would like to know more, and especially if you’d like to set up or strengthen a patient group in your practice, contact them on 020 7095 5766 or email 

Interviewed by Catherine Flynn, NHS Lambeth CCG for Patient Participation Group Awareness Week, June 2015 ​