A patch panel is a panel of network ports in a central location. They are usually located in server racks, or next to a modem / router. They allow for easy connection of network sockets throughout a property as simply as you’d plug in a vacuum cleaner in different rooms of your house.
Not every network setup needs a patch panel, but they offer a neat alternative to a bunch of dangling cables, with each port having the benefit of being identified easily through correct labeling.
A twelve port patch panel is pretty cheap too, if you consider the cleanliness of the final installation. At the time of writing you can usually purchase a decent surface mounted patch panel for about £20. This is significantly cheaper than a bunch of two port network face plates, which you can expect to pay about £6-£10 including back box. Obviously, what you chose to opt for will depend on your own needs, usage, and the run of the cable.