Action on Hearing Loss logo

Hear to Help Drop in Hearing Aid Support

These drop in sessions from Action on Hearing Loss are open to everyone and offer re-tubing and batteries (for NHS hearing aids), and information.

NB Not Bank Holidays.


Allendale 2nd Thursday in Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sept, Nov.  2.30pm-3.30 pm Allendale Health Centre, Shilburn Rd, Allendale, Hexham NE47 9LG
Alnwick 1st Monday monthly,

11.00am-12.00pm (not bank holidays)

The Alnwick Garden (Elderberries Room), Denwick Lane, Alnwick NE66 1YU
Amble 1st Thursday monthly,


Amble Health Centre, Percy Drive, Amble, NE65 0HD
Bedlington 1st Monday monthly, 2.00pm-3.00pm (not bank holidays) Bedlingtonshire Medical Group, Glebe Road, Bedlington NE22 6JX
Belford 2nd Tuesday monthly,


Bell View, 33 West St, Belford NE70 7QB
Bellingham (appts only; 01434 220 203) 2nd Monday monthly,


Bellingham Medical Practice, Bellingham NE48 2HW
Choppington 1st Friday in Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec, 10.30-11.30am Choppington Disability Grp, Stakeford & Bomarsund Welfare, Gordon Tce West, Stakeford NE62 5UD
Cramlington 2nd Wednesday in Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Nov.  10.00-11.00am Grenville Court (Anchor Housing), Megstone Ave, Cramlington NE23 6UJ
Haltwhistle 2nd Thursday in Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sept, Nov.  10.00am-11.30am Haltwhistle Medical Group, Greencroft Ave, Haltwhistle NE49 9AP
Haydon Bridge 2nd Thursday in Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sept, Nov.


Haydon Bridge Health Centre, North Bank, Haydon Bridge NE47 6LA
Hexham   1st Wednesday monthly, 2.30pm-3.30pm Burn Brae Medical Group, Hexham Primary Care Centre, Corbridge Rd, Hexham NE46 1QJ
Ponteland 2nd Monday monthly, 2.00pm-3.30pm Ponteland Medical Group, Meadowfield, Ponteland NE20 9SD
Prudhoe (appts only: 01661 839 370) 2nd Thursday in Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec.


Prudhoe Medical Group, Dr Syntax Rd, Kepwell Bank Top, Prudhoe NE42 5PW
Rothbury 2nd Friday monthly,


Rothbury Library, Front St, Rothbury NE65 7TZ
Seaton Delaval 1st Tuesday monthly,


Council Offices, 20 – 22 Astley Rd, Seaton Delaval NE25 0DG
Wallsend (finishing 30th June 2018) Last Tuesday monthly (not Dec), 12.30pm-1.30pm Wallsend Customer First Centre (library), 16 The Forum, Wallsend NE28 8GR
Whitley Bay (finishing 30th June 2018) Last Tuesday monthly (not Dec), 10.30am-11.30am Whitley Bay Customer First Centre (library), York Road, Whitley Bay NE26 1AB
Wooler 1st Friday monthly, 1.30pm-2.30pm Cheviot Primary Care Centre, Padgepool Place, Wooler NE71 6BL


Further information on 01670 513606 or 07425 627821 or at

Great North Museum Hancock

Free Guided Tours of The Great Exhibition of the North – GNM:Hancock

Would you like to have a free guided tour around the new and exciting exhibits in the GNM:Hancock? Four free tours have been arranged for different groups who may need particular assistance to access and enjoy the Great Exhibition of the North.


  • Wednesday 27 June, 3.30pm – 4.30pm

A tour for blind, partially sighted and visually impaired people with a tour guide who can give both description and information about the various exhibits as well as audio description as the tour takes place.  Places must be booked in advance (details below) and bookings need to be received by no later than 12.00pm on Monday 25 June.


  • Wednesday 4 July, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

A tour for people with learning disabilities or who consider themselves to be on the autistic spectrum. The tour guide will have received training in communicating with a wide range of people and will be able to answer most questions that may be posed about the exhibition.  Places must be booked in advance (details below) and bookings need to be received by no later than 12.00pm on Monday 2 July.


  • Tuesday 10 July, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

A tour for older people or those have dementia. The tour guide will be aware of specific communication and interpretation issues that older people may have and therefore the tour will cover as much of the exhibition as possible in the time available.  This will mean people attending the tour will not feel rushed or hassled and can enjoy their museum visit fully.  Places must be booked in advance (details below) and bookings need to be received by no later than 12.00pm on Friday 6 July.


  • Wednesday 18 July, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

A tour for deaf people and those with significant hearing loss. The tour guide will have worked with communication support including BSL interpreters so will be fully aware of all related issues. Bookings must be received by no later than 12.00pm on Wednesday 4 July,  to allow enough time to secure the services of any communication support including BSL interpreters.

Bookings can be made by via email to: or by telephone: 0191 277 2313.

There are up to 16 places available on each tour which includes support workers, guides or assistants.  Please book early to avoid disappointment.  Further information about the Great Exhibition of the North can be found here.


Jo's Trust Cervical Screening logo

Cervical Screening Awareness Week

Cervical Screening Awareness Week: 11 – 17 June 2018

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 with 3,000 women a year diagnosed with the condition. But with regular screening, it can be prevented. Cervical screening (a smear test) aims to find abnormal cells which if left untreated, may develop into cancer, however it is NOT a test for cancer.

The NHS invites women from the age of 25-49 to attend for cervical screening every three years and women between the ages of 50-64, every five years. If you receive a recall letter after your test, don’t ignore it,  as it is estimated that 5000 lives a year are saved in the UK through cervical screening.

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group’s Community Cancer Awareness Co-ordinator will be out and about this week to promote Cervical Screening Awareness Week. Look out for displays and information leaflets.

If you would like further advice on cervical screening, contact the practice nurse at your GP surgery or you can telephone Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust helpline, on 0808 802 8000, visit their website or visit


Lasdies smiling in an exercise class

Being Active Matters – Volunteers wanted

As mental health awareness grows, we all know that the benefits of sport and exercise are far greater than just physical. Exercise is also great for the mind and our mental health.

Volunteers are being sought in North and West Northumberland for an exciting project, funded by Sport England and Northumberland County Council. The role of the volunteer is to support and encourage people to become physically active to improve their mental wellbeing. Some people just need confidence and motivation to partake in an activity, and this project will create a ‘buddy scheme’ where volunteers will be matched to someone who needs support. It will also invite sports clubs and organisations to learn how they, as a club, can be supportive.

Whether it be a walk, trip to the gym, game of hockey or recreational game of badminton, we want as many opportunities as possible. Can you share your activity with someone else? Training will be provided and you can volunteer for as many hours as you can give, in an activity of your choice. This is a very rewarding volunteering opportunity and is flexible – you are in control of the activity you can support and the times that you are available.

For further information on volunteering in the North Northumberland area please contact Karen Renner (, telephone 07483326881) or Helen Brown for information on volunteering in the West Northumberland area (, telephone

Sally Allan Fund logo

About the Sally Allan Fund

The Sally Allan Fund was developed by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind to help reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental health problems to create better mental health in the north east. Its vision is to provide a free one hour presentation with three aims:

  • To give people knowledge about common mental health problems so that they feel more self-assured in identifying them in others and starting a conversation about it.
  • To provide information so that individuals feel more confident and empowered to speak up about their experiences and to ask for the advice, support and treatment that they need.
  • To recognise the importance of self-care for the prevention of mental health problems and to help stop relapses.

In conjunction with the presentation, each attendee receives a booklet full of tips and guidance on self-care and information on local and national services for support.

If your organisation would like to receive this free presentation please contact a member of the training team at:

For more information about mental health support please see our Mental Health page.

Buildings from Wylam bridge

Feedback report regarding proposed changes to Riversdale Surgery, Wylam

In June 2017 the patients at Riversdale Surgery in Wylam received a letter asking for their views on a proposal to close the surgery on Woodcroft Road in Wylam and relocate services to Oaklands Health Centre in Prudhoe.

This report provides feedback from public engagement events Healthwatch Northumberland held about the proposal on 20 and 24 February 2018 and from questionnaires distributed directly to households in the Wylam parish and in Horsley and on-line via the Healthwatch Northumberland website up to 30 April 2018. It also presents information about the current public transport links between the Wylam area and Front Street in Prudhoe


 The feedback gathered by Healthwatch Northumberland shows respondents do not perceive benefits will result from the proposal to close the Riversdale Surgery at Woodcroft Road in Wylam and relocate services to the Oaklands Health Centre in Prudhoe.

Healthwatch Northumberland spoke to 62 people and 167 questionnaires were returned to Healthwatch Northumberland.  81% of respondents are currently registered with the practice and living in the NE41 postcode area. 93% said they were unhappy about the proposal.

The overwhelming concern expressed was how patients would maintain access to the services offered by the Riversdale Surgery.  The services were valued and sympathy was expressed for the position of the current GP partners, but respondents expressed grave concerns about their ability to get to the Oaklands Health Centre, particularly using public transport.  This issue was strongly expressed by the 66% of respondents aged over 65 who, while they are driving at the moment are very aware they may stop driving in the next 5-10 years.

Analysis of the public transport options confirms that journeys from Wylam, Heddon and Horsley to be protracted, with long waits and short windows for appointments at Oaklands Health Centre. There is also some doubt about the long term future of the only direct bus routes between the two sites.

Concern was also expressed about the extent to which other options had been explored for providing services in the Wylam area, the impact on the other GP practice in Wylam (White Medical Group), on-going communications about the progress of the changes and the transparency of the decision making process.

Read the full report.

Older man smiling

What does good mental health care look like?

Over a million adults in England are currently in contact with mental health services but what should they expect when it comes to the care they receive?

Mental health is consistently one of the top issues people tell their local Healthwatch about. Following the launch of the multi-year mental health project last year, Healthwatch England looks at the treatment and care you should expect to receive from mental health services.

Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) explains how professionals should improve the experience of people using NHS mental health services, from when you are first referred to a service, to what should happen during your assessment and how you should be involved in your treatment. Here we look at some of the things the guidance says you should expect from good mental health care.


What should I expect when I’m referred to a mental health service?

If your GP thinks mental health services can help you, they will write to them to ask for an appointment. The mental health service should offer you an appointment within three weeks of your GP writing to them.

Your appointment letter should covers things like who you will be seeing, how to get to the appointment, what questions you will be asked during your assessment, and if you need any extra support (for example, if you have any access or communication needs, or if you would like to bring a family member, carer or advocate with you).


 Questions to ask during your assessmentAfter you’ve been referred to a mental health service, you’ll be asked to attend an assessment. You might feel nervous about this but it’s important to think about some of the questions you can ask to make sure you get the most out of your appointment. Here are some examples:

  • Why am I being offered an assessment?
  • Will you tell anyone about my mental health problem?
  • Who can provide my treatment and care?
  • Are there any support organisations in my local area?
  • Have you got any information for my family or carer?
  • How can I manage my own condition?
  • Who can I contact if I need help quickly between appointments (in a crisis)?


What should I expect from mental health professionals?

The health and social care professionals you come into contact with should be easy to identify, friendly and welcoming. They should understand that you may feel nervous, and do their best to make your feel comfortable.


How should I be involved in my treatment?

It’s important that doctors, nurses and other health and social care professionals work with you to come to joint decisions about your care. They should explain things clearly and give you the information you need to come to a decision together. If possible, they should also help you manage your own condition, for example by giving you resources that can help or telling you where you can find further support.


What should happen after I’ve been assessed?

Your mental health team should explain your treatment and also work with you to develop a care plan, including:

  • Activities, such as education, work, volunteering, caring for family members or leisure activities
  • What you can do to keep well
  • How to cope with and reduce any risks to yourself or others
  • Who to contact in a crisis.


What should I do in a crisis?

There should be a local 24-hour helpline you can call in a crisis. Your GP or mental health team should be able to give you this number.

If the crisis team thinks you need an assessment or treatment from mental health services, you should be seen within four hours. The assessment can take place at home or, if this isn’t possible, you should be asked where you would like the assessment to take place. You should also be asked if you would prefer to see a male or female professional for your assessment.

The crisis team should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and should support you to stay at home rather than going into hospital if possible.


Can my family, carer or advocate be involved in my treatment?

Professionals should make sure you are able to make decisions about your own treatment – this is called ‘capacity’. This can change over time if your mental health condition is severe, and your doctor might ask you if you want to make an advance statement or advance decision about your future care.

You should also be asked by mental health professionals if you would like a family member, carer or trained advocate involved in your care and, if you agree, what information you’d like to share with them.


Want to find out more about what to expect?

Read the full guidance on mental health support from NICE.

If you’ve had an experience of mental health services that you’d like to share, please get in touch.

close uo of a woman's eye

National Glaucoma Week – Get Eye Wise

The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is focusing on the impact of dry eye syndrome for people with glaucoma during International Glaucoma Week 4 to 10 June 2018. Dry eye syndrome can have a debilitating effect on a person’s quality of life yet is little understood. Dry eye syndrome affects 50 to 60 per cent of people with glaucoma and one in three people over the age of 65. It is a disorder where the eyes don’t make enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. This can make eyes feel dry, scratchy and irritated or watery, and feel heavy and tired by the end of the day. In severe cases people report pain, discomfort and depression, and its impact has been compared with that of angina, dialysis and disabling hip fractures.

Commenting on the campaign, Karen Osborn of the IGA says: “Dry eye has an adverse impact on quality of life, with people saying that they cannot read, find the sunlight painful, feel unhappy and can’t even open their eyes long enough to do certain daily tasks. We want to encourage anyone who has aggravating dry eye symptoms to seek the advice of their pharmacist or GP and it is important that people with glaucoma raise any dry eye symptoms with their ophthalmologist as a change of glaucoma treatment to a preservative free eye drop often helps to reduce the symptoms of dry eye syndrome”.

Glaucoma affects around 700,000 people in the UK and the majority of people will initially be treated with medical eye drops. Managing both dry eye and glaucoma effectively is important, but challenging. Both conditions are long-term but manageable.


What are the most common symptoms of dry eye?

  • Heavy tired feeling of the eyes
  • Difficulty reading or working on the computer
  • Blurriness of vision
  • Excessive watering of the eyes
  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
  • Stinging or burning of the eyes
  • A sandy or gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Pain and redness of the eyes


Tips to help

Drink lots of water which helps tear production

Get enough sleep

Avoid alcohol and spicy foods

Avoid smoking and smoky areas

Wear glasses or sunglasses on windy days

Avoid air-conditioned environments and draughts

Consider using a humidifier

Blink more frequently when using a computer screen or reading

Look away from computer screens every 30 minutes


Download the free IGA Dry Eye Syndrome Leaflet for more information.

computer keyboard with stethascope

An alternative way to have a consultation with your GP

Online Consultations: an alternative way to have a consultation with your GP

NHS England is seeking views from GPs, practice teams and members of the public on what people think about the idea of online consultations in order to improve the service and increase the availability and use of services.

Online consultations are a way for patients to contact their GP practice without having to wait on the phone or come into the practice. Using a smartphone, tablet or computer, you can contact your practice about a new problem or an ongoing issue. You can ask questions or tell your GP about your symptoms. The practice will ensure your contact is dealt with by the right person in the team, helping ensure you are served as quickly and appropriately as possible. Sometimes this will mean you will need a phone call with the GP or nurse, or an appointment at the practice, and this will be arranged as usual.

Online consultations are an alternative service – it is still possible to do other things on the practice website such as seeing test results and your medical record, ordering a repeat prescription or booking an appointment

It doesn’t matter if you have not used online consultations yourself – your views are still of interest to the NHS.

We are working with NHS England and other local Healthwatch to hear your views about online consultations. You can complete an online survey here or talk to us at an upcoming event where you can fill in a hard copy version with help from our staff if needed. The survey closes on Friday 15 June 2018.

Please email if you have any queries about this research project.



woman having a mammogram

Breast Cancer Screening

The Health Secretary announced today  that up to 270 women in England may have died because they did not receive invitations to a final routine breast cancer screening. Speaking in the Commons, he said 450,000 women aged 68-71 years had failed to get invitations since 2009. The story can be read in full here.

Healthwatch England and local Healthwatch across the country have received very few enquiries about breast screening; this could be because people haven’t been called for screening before, therefore aren’t aware they should be going and so isn’t something they raise concerns with us about.

We are keen to make sure that the NHS identifies those affected and moves swiftly to get people screened. We would urge anyone who wants to share concerns or experiences of screening, good and bad, to get in touch.

If you have any concerns or questions please call the helpline: 0800 169 2692

More information on breast screening can be found at NHS Choices.