Online event - JMAPS

Online event – Northumbria Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service (JMAPS)

Join us on Friday 12 July at 1pm to hear from Nick Livadas and Kathy Mills who will give us an introduction to Northumberland’s Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service (JMAPS).

This online session will give an overview of what JMAPS is, how people can access the service and how it can help people with musculoskeletal conditions or persistent pain. There will be a chance to ask questions after the presentation.

This session is suitable for anyone who wants to know more about the support on offer through JMAPS.

Register now and we will send you a link to join closer to the event.

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Online event - Crohn's & Colitis UK

Online event – Crohn’s & Colitis UK

Join us on Friday 14 June at 1pm to hear from Ben Rutter and Jess Turner of Crohn’s & Colitis UK. They will talk about Crohn’s and Colitis, and the support available for people living or working with these conditions.

They will cover topics including recent campaigns, policy and research and will also share results from the recent Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) UK local reports in the North East.

This session is suitable for people who live or work in Northumberland and are living with or supporting someone with Crohn’s or Colitis. There will be a chance to ask questions after the presentation.

This event has now passed – watch the recording on YouTube.

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Woman outside a hospital

Here to Hear – at our monthly drop-ins

Healthwatch Northumberland Monthly Drop-ins

Come and see us at one of our monthly drop-ins, which we hold in all five local council areas of the county. These sessions are a chance for residents to tell us, in confidence, about their experiences of NHS and social care services so that we can understand what is working well and what could be improved. You can also use our Signposting and Information Service to find out more about local support and services. Call in to speak to our friendly team at one of the venues below, or if you’d prefer to make a specific appointment for one of the sessions, please get in touch.

  • East Bedlington Community Centre, 16 & 17 Station Street, Bedlington, NE22 7JN: First Friday of the month, 10.00am – 11.30am
  • Weavers’ Court, Swordy Drive, Alnwick, NE66 1SZ: Second Thursday of the month, 10.30am – 12.30pm
  • Prudhoe Community Hub, 58 Front Street, NE42 5AA: Third Friday of the month, 10am – 12pm
  • Morpeth Library, inside Morpeth Leisure Centre, Gas House Lane, NE61 1SR: Fourth Wednesday of the month, 10.30am – 12.30pm
  • Cafe @ Burn Lane, Hexham, NE46 3HN: Fourth Thursday of the month, 11am – 1pm
  • Online Zoom session: Second Friday of the month, 1.00pm – 2.00pm. Email: for the Zoom link. There will be a different topic each month – see events page or social media for details.

We also attend one-off events throughout the county. Please check our events calendar or social media for more details.

You can leave feedback at any time here on our website

Have your say on the NHS Constitution

The Government has launched a consultation on the NHS Constitution, which sets out your rights as an NHS patient. It also includes the commitments the NHS aims to achieve so you get high quality care.

The Government is planning to make several changes to the NHS Constitution. You can tell the Government what you think about the proposals, as well as any other changes you think should be made.

What is the NHS Constitution?

The NHS Constitution outlines the founding values of the NHS and details the rights, commitments, and obligations of patients and staff, as well as their roles in ensuring the NHS works effectively.

The NHS Constitution plays a vital role in helping the NHS set the right culture and focus on what matters most to the public. It also tells you about your rights. For example, if a GP needs to refer you for a physical or mental health condition, in most cases, you have the legal right to choose the hospital or service you’d like to go to.

What is the consultation about?

The Government must update the Constitution via a public consultation every ten years to reflect what people value most when it comes to their health and social care services. The Government is planning to make several changes to the NHS Constitution. For example, they want to introduce a new right for patients and their loved ones to be able to request a second opinion when a hospital patient’s condition deteriorates.

The Government wants to hear your views about their proposals, as well as other changes you think should be made.

What are the proposals?

The proposals include:

Getting a second opinion: Changes that would empower patients and their families to ask for a second opinion on treatment if their condition or the condition of their loved one deteriorates. The rule would see more power put in the hands of patients.

Carer rights: A new right to involve unpaid carers as early as possible when a patient is discharged.

Patient communication: A commitment to ensuring the NHS communicates information about appointments in a clear and timely way to help patients meet their responsibility to keep or cancel appointments.

Health inequalities: A plan to strengthen the NHS focus on health inequalities by committing services to work with partners to understand the needs of their local communities.

Why is the consultation important?

We should all expect high standards of care, whether for emergency care, a dentist appointment, or a check-up with a GP. However, many people don’t know their rights under the Constitution. The consultation is your opportunity to learn more, tell the Government what you think about their proposals, and say if they should make other changes.


Have your say on the NHS Constitution: 10 year review

The consultation closes at 11.59pm on 25 June 2024.

Sorted online event

Online event – Sorted

Online event – Sorted

Join us on Friday 10 May, 1pm-2pm, to hear from Helena Swarbrook from Sorted (Northumberland’s Substance Misuse Service for young people).

Helena will talk to us about substance misuse, general substance awareness, harm reduction and the first steps in making changes. She will also outline the information, advice and support provided by Sorted across Northumberland for under 18s.

There will be a chance to ask questions after the presentation.

This session is suitable for anyone concerned about their own or a loved one’s drugs misuse or professionals supporting people where drugs may be a concern.

This event has now passed – watch the recording on our YouTube channel.

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Water fluoridation

Water fluoridation plans

There are plans to extend water fluoridation in the North East to help tackle preventable tooth decay.

Tooth decay is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people, causing pain and distress, preventable hospital admissions, sleepless nights and missed days from school. Ensuring drinking water contains the recommended level of fluoride is an effective way to help prevent tooth decay.

Some areas of the North East already have tap water which contains fluoride at these recommended levels and this has been very effective at reducing dental decay for the population living in these areas. In Northumberland, around 101,000 people are already supplied with artificially fluoridated water.

In the East and North of the county, fluoridated communities include Alnwick, Alnmouth, Howick, Embleton, High Newton by the Sea and Seahouses. In the West of the county, fluoridated communities include Haltwhistle, Henshaw, Haydon Bridge, Corbridge, Heddon on the Wall and Prudhoe. These fluoridation schemes have been in place since 1968.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) would like to hear your views on expanding water fluoridation in the North East, including those areas of Northumberland without fluoridation.

The public consultation closes at 11:59pm on 17 June 2024.

Have your say on the water fluoridation plans



Health Trainers online event

Online event – Health Trainers

At our next online lunchtime event on Friday 12 April, 1pm-2pm, you can hear from local Health Trainers Jack and Kirsty.

They will give an outline of what support is on offer to help to improve and maintain health and wellbeing, plus details of 1:1 clinics, healthy lifestyle programmes, Weigh & Go programmes, health checks, Health Walks and more.

They will also share some top tips for keeping well and there will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session.

This session is free to attend and open to anyone who lives or works in Northumberland.

This event has now passed – watch the recording

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Think Pharmacy First

Think pharmacy first

Pharmacists can now provide treatment for seven common conditions without patients needing to see a GP, as part of a major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care.

Highly trained pharmacists at over 90% of pharmacies can now assess and treat patients for earache, impetigo, infected insect bites, shingles, sinusitis, sore throat and urinary tract infections (UTIs) for women aged 16-64 – without the need for a GP appointment.

No appointment is necessary and private consultations are available. Patients will be signposted to other local services where necessary.

By expanding the services community pharmacies offer, the NHS is aiming to help free up GP appointments and give people more choice in how and where they access care.

Don’t wait for minor health concerns to get worse – think pharmacy first and get seen by your local pharmacy team.

More information about Pharmacy First

If you would like to give feedback about a pharmacy you have used please get in touch.

Lady on a bus

Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme

If you’re referred to hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by a doctor, dentist or another primary care health professional, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS).

What are the qualifying benefits and allowances?

You can claim help with travel costs if you or your partner (including civil partner) receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC) with Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • WTC with a disability element or a severe disability element
  • CTC but you’re not eligible for WTC
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • You receive Universal Credit and meet the criteria

You can also claim for help with travel costs if:

  • you’re named on, or entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate (if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice) – you qualify if you get child tax credits, working tax credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • you have a low income and are named on certificate HC2 (full help) or HC3 (limited help) – to apply for this certificate, you should complete the HC1 form: claim for help with health costs, which is available from your local hospital, Jobcentre Plus offices or the NHS print contract order line on 0300 123 0849.

How do I claim a refund?

To claim your travel costs, take your travel receipts, appointment letter or card, plus proof that you’re receiving one of the qualifying benefits, to a nominated cashiers’ office.

Nominated cashiers’ offices are located in the hospital or clinic that treated you. They’ll assess your claim and make the payment directly to you.

In some hospitals, the name of the office you need to go to may be different (for example, the General Office or the Patient Affairs Office). If you’re not sure, ask reception or Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) staff where you should go.

Some hospitals and clinics do not have cashier facilities. In this case, you can complete an HC5(T) claim travel charges form and post it to the address stated on the form.

You can make a postal claim up to three months after your appointment took place.

Useful numbers

  • Call 0300 330 1348 for the dental services helpline
  • Call 0300 330 1343 for the Low Income Scheme helpline
  • Call 0300 330 1341 for queries about medical exemption certificates
  • Call 0300 330 1341 for queries about prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs)
  • Call 0300 330 1349 for the prescription services helpline
  • Call 0300 330 1347 for queries about tax credit certificates
  • Call 0300 123 0849 to order a paper copy of the HC12, HC5 and HC1 (SC) forms
  • Call 0300 330 1343 for all other queries


More information about travel costs at the NHS website

Elderly lady in care home

Care home forums: what you said

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we hosted regular online forums for relatives and friends of those living in care homes to tell us about the impact of visiting restrictions and ways they have been keeping in touch.

Those who attended these forums said that it helped to give them a voice and it was helpful to meet with other people in a similar situation. It was agreed that the group would continue to meet once every three months to discuss any issues or concerns. The minutes from the previous meetings and other useful information about care home visiting can be found below.

When the group last met on Tuesday 20 February, we discussed respite care, discharge from hospital and Enter and View.

Minutes from 20 February 2024

Care Home Online Forum – 20 February 2024

Minutes from 8 November 2023

Care Home Online Forum – 8 November 2023

Minutes from 27 July 2023

Care Home Online Forum – 27 July 2023

Minutes from 17 April 2023

Care Home Online Forum – 17 April 2023

Minutes from 9 January 2023

Care Home Online Forum – 9 January 2023

Minutes from 30 September 2022

Care Home Online Forum – 30 September 2022

Minutes from 9 May 2022

Care Home Online Forum – 9 May 2022

Minutes from 7 February 2022

Care Home Online Forum – 7 February 2022

Minutes from 8 November 2021

Care Home Online Forum – 8 November 2021

Care home visiting information

Read Essential Care Giver Myth-buster


The date of the next online care homes forum is to be confirmed. To register or leave feedback outside of the forum, please email Helen Brown: or call 03332 408 468.