Close up image of an eye

Northumberland County Blind Association – Clubs and Support Groups

Northumberland County Blind Assocation’s clubs and support groups have been set up throughout the county to help combat the social isolation felt by many vision-impaired people as a result of sight loss.  Anyone with sight loss can join a club or support group, whether registered or not. Carers, friends and relatives are also welcome to attend.

The aim of the groups is to provide vision-impaired people with support to enable them to meet with other partially-sighted people from their own community.  The groups are supported by volunteers and are self-funding and self-motivating, enabling members to maintain independence, choice and control.

Ashington Blind Club

Bothal Community Centre, every Monday (not August) 1.30pm – 3.30pm. Contact Eleanor: 01670 816137

SocialEyes Ashington

Pub/restaurant lunches, first Wednesday of the month 12.30pm – 2.30pm. Contact Margaret: 01670 515529

Activities Group

Tips out at various venues in Northumberland and Newcastle, monthly on a Wednesday. Contact June: 01670 862554

SocialEyes Alnwick

Cafe/pub lunches around Alnwick, second Friday of the month, 12.30pm – 2.30pm. Contact Catherine: 01665 604422

Bedlington Sensory Allotment

behind Chester Court Care Home, Bedlington, second and fourth Tuesday of the montg, 10.00am – 12.00pm. Contact NCBA: 01670 514316.

Blyth Club

Scout Hut HQ, Edward Street, every Thursday 1.00pm – 3.00pm. Contact Edna: 01670 369482.

Bloomers Garden Club

Hepscott Park Garden Centre, third Friday of the montg, 10.00am – 12.00pm. Contact John: 01670 503782.

SocialEyes Craft Group

Reiver House Morpeth, third Thursday of the month, 10.00am – 12.00pm. Contact Joyce: 01670 855686.

Hexham Luncheon Club

Various locations around Hexham, first Tuesday of the month, 12.00pm – 2.30pm. Contact NCBA: 01670 514316.

Insight Club Blyth

Adult Training Centre, Kitty Brewster Estate, alternate Tuesday evenings 6.30pm. Contact NCBA: 01670 514316.

SocialEyes Ponteland

Various locations around Ponteland, third Thursday of the month, 1.30pm – 3.00pm. Contact NCBA: 01670 514316.

SocialEyes Prudhoe

Parish Hall, Prudhoe Front Street, third Tuesday of the month, 10.00am – 12.00pm. Contact Eric: 01661 842330.

Reading Group

Morpeth Library, monthly on a Thursday, 1.30pm – 3.00pm. Contact Ros: 01661 823594.

Women’s Groups

Reiver House, Morpeth, third Tuesday of the month. Contact June: 01670 812053.


For more details contact Northumberland County Blind Association on: 01670 514316 or email:

Memory Cafe

Morpeth Memory Cafe

Dates for Morpeth Memory Cafe have been confirmed up to the end of the year.

For people with memory problems or dementia and their family and friends, the cafe is a great place to come along for a chat, pick up some information and to enjoy social time with others in a similar situation to your own. No need to book, just drop in!

Refreshments are available.

The café takes place on the Thursdays shown below, from 10.30 am to 12.00 noon in the coffee lounge at the Morpeth Methodist Centre. For further information please contact the church office on 01670 511078 or e-mail


Memory Café Dates 2017:

17th August

7th and 21st September

5th and 19th October

2nd and 16th November

7th and 21st December

For more information and support please see our Dementia page.

Young woman talking to counsellor

The State of Care in Mental Health Services

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently published its review of mental health services in England, over the period 2104 – 2017. The report found that 68% of core services provided by NHS trusts were good, with 6% rated as outstanding. Among independent services, 76% were rated as good or outstanding (72% good and 4% outstanding).

However, there are a substantial minority of NHS trust and independent services that need to improve the quality of care they provide. 39% of NHS trusts were rated as ‘requires improvement’ as at 31 May 2017, as were 23% of independent services. A very small number were rated as inadequate; one NHS trust and three independent services.

The report identifies several areas of concern:

  • Concerns about ‘locked rehabilitation wards’
  • Great variation between wards in how frequently staff use restrictive practices and physical restraint to deescalate challenging behaviour
  • The impact of staffing shortages
  • Poor quality clinical information systems
  • Commissioning of crisis care services
    See the full report and rating tables at the Care Quality Commission website.

For help and support around mental health issues please see our Mental Health support page.

Macmillan cancer support mug

New Macmillan Drop In Service for Berwick

New support sessions for people affected by cancer and life limiting illnesses are to take place in Berwick. These free sessions provide emotional support and a range of information on treatments, lifestyle, nutrition, benefits plus local support groups and events.

The support is offered by the Northumberland Macmillan Support Service, which is provided by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust with funding from Macmillan Cancer Support.

Northumbria Healthcare’s Macmillan Support Services lead Lisa Johnstone says: “The new support sessions in Berwick build on the success of drop-ins we already run in Ashington and North Tyneside. The Macmillan Support Service is available for anyone aged over 18 in Northumberland and North Tyneside. The service provides access to information and support for adults affected by cancer or other serious illnesses, and their families and carers.”

Sessions are on the first Thursday of the month,10am to 1pm at North Northumberland Voluntary Forum, Tweed Street, Berwick, starting on Thursday 3rd August. No appointment is needed.

Contact Macmillan Support Services Northumberland on: 01670 855533 or email for more details.

Waiting room seating

Urgent Care Centres in Northumberland

Following the extension to temporary overnight closures at urgent care centres at Hexham and Wansbeck General Hospitals, we are keen to find out more about people’s understanding and usage of their local urgent care centre.

Please give us your feedback so that we can better understand where people are likely to go for particular health issues and share this information with the service providers.

To leave your views please click here

Find out more about emergency and urgent care services

Bottle of tablets

Patient Online

The Patient Online service gives you immediate access to your GP practice, 24 hours a day. It can cut out queues at reception or on the telephone and help you take more control of your health and wellbeing, or that of someone you care for.

The service allows you to book or cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view some of your patient records, including test results and immunisation history.

If you, or someone you care for has a condition that requires regular medication, then you can also take advantage of the Electronic Prescription Service. Reduce the number of times you need to contact or visit your GP practice even more by nominating a pharmacy of your choice, where your repeat prescriptions will be sent electronically by your GP. This can be a pharmacy near to where you live, work or shop.

These services are free of charge and you can register at your surgery by taking along some identification. More information can be found on the NHS Choices website about both Patient Online and the Electronic Prescription Service.

Alternatively if you already know how to use the internet, you can take a short course on how to start using GP services.


Plastercine boy feeling unwell

Summer Health

Summer Health

Peaks in visits to the GP, urgent care centres and A&E during the summer months are seen to be linked with people experiencing a variety of seasonal ailments, such as sunstroke, allergies, minor injuries and food poisoning.

It’s much quicker and pretty straightforward to look after yourself if you have a common complaint, such as upset stomach, sunburn, bite or sting or a minor injury such as a cut or sprain.  Visit a local pharmacist for confidential advice and treatment to put you on the fast track to feeling better; there’s no need for a prescription or an unnecessary A&E wait. A&E is for life threatening injuries and serious, immediate health problems.  These include major loss of blood, chest pain, stroke, severe abdominal pain, broken bones, breathing problems, serious eye injuries. For most people, common complaints will start to clear up within a few days to a couple of weeks.


Summer Sun

Health experts are reminding people to take care while enjoying the sunshine – local health services see a number of patients every year who have become ill due to summer sun and warmer weather. Heat affects some people more seriously than others. Older people, babies and young children, pregnant women, people doing manual work outdoors and those with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart problems should take particular care. If you do end up feeling ill in the heat, visit your local pharmacist who can provide advice on common illnesses and how to treat them, call NHS 111 or make an appointment to see your GP for persistent illness.


Child Health

Having a poorly child can be a scary experience, but often the best person to help your child quickly is you.  Understanding more about common childhood illnesses and injuries can help you feel more confident in knowing what to do. Parents often get worried about temperatures, coughs and minor injuries, such as sprains and cuts.  But with some advice from your pharmacist and the use of some stock medicines and first aid kit, you can often manage to make your child feel better at home.

Parents and carers of children under five can also get medical advice on a range of common childhood illnesses from the NHS Child Health app which has been developed by doctors, health visitors and pharmacists. Search ‘NHS Child Health’ on Google Play or the App Store.


There are a number of NHS services you can use to treat less serious injuries and illnesses.  To find your nearest service and get further advice call NHS 111 or visit or visit our Find Services page.

More information on summer health can be found at the NHS Choices website.


New Ambulance Standards Announced

NHS England announced the introduction of new system of national ambulance response standards which aims to ensure the most appropriate response is sent to a patient rather than the fastest one.

Following the world’s largest clinical ambulance trial undertaken by Sheffield University, this redesign of the ambulance service standards focuses on ensuring patients get the right care in the appropriate time frame rather than simply ‘stopping the clock’. For the first time response targets will apply to every single patient, not just those in immediate need.

Call handlers will change the way they assess cases and will have slightly more time to decide the most appropriate clinical response. As a result cardiac arrest patients can be identified quicker than ever before, with evidence showing this could save up to 250 lives every year.

In future there will be four categories of call:

  • Category one is for calls about people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. These will be responded to in an average time of seven minutes.
  • Category two is for emergency calls. These will be responded to in an average time of 18 minutes.
  • Category three is for urgent calls. In some instances you may be treated by ambulance staff in your own home. These types of calls will be responded to at least 9 out of 10 times within 120 minutes.
  • Category four is for less urgent calls. In some instances you may be given advice over the telephone or referred to another service such as a GP or pharmacist. These less urgent calls will be responded to at least 9 out of 10 times within 180 minutes.

The new targets will aim to remove long waits for millions of patients, including reducing lengthy waits for the frail and elderly. For example, sometimes more than one vehicle is sent to a patient to meet response targets, or a rapid response vehicle would be sent, which would ‘stop the clock’ but may not have been able to transport the patient to hospital. These new standards will be rolled out over the coming months.

More information can be found at the NHS England and North East Ambulance Service websites.





GP typing notes on a laptop

Riversdale Surgery Relocation – Patient Engagement

Patients of Riversdale Surgery, Woodcroft Road, Wylam, are being asked for their views on a potential relocation of the surgery to the practice’s branch site at Oaklands Health Centre, Front Street, Prudhoe. Details of the proposal and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the Riversdale Surgery website.

Feedback can be given via the comments cards available at both sites or by emailing: The final date for leaving feedback is Monday 31 July.

Please let us know if you have any problems with the process of leaving feedback. Our email address is:


Amble Pier Northumberland

Annual Report 2016/17

Amble Pier Northumberland

The latest Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report is now available, outlining the work undertaken by Healthwatch Northumberland during the year. See how we made a difference to people’s expeiences of health and social care in the county.

Download the Annual Report.