Online event – NSPCC Building Connections

Online event – NSPCC Building Connections

Join us for our next free online event on Friday 9 August, 1pm-2pm, with NSPCC’s Building Connections service.

Research shows that 73% of young people between the ages of 16-18 do not feel equipped to deal with loneliness (Vote for Schools survey, 2023). The NSPCC’s newest service Building Connections is looking to change that.

Ellen Watling and Jess France from Building Connections will share how their service is supporting young people to overcome and manage feelings of loneliness.

This presentation will last around an hour including time for attendees to ask questions at the end. It is suitable for public and professionals who want to know more about the support on offer through the NSPCC’s Building Connections service.

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

Sign up to our newsletter to hear about future events or catch up with previous events.

What you told us: June 2024

What you told us: June 2024

This month we continued to hear about communication issues and poor quality of care at hospitals in the region. There were also several positive comments about the quality of care received from GP surgeries.

We raised with a primary care group that a link on its website wasn’t working. The practice manager replied to say that they had fixed the link and thanked us for letting them know. Patients were now able to access the information in the weblink.

Negative feedback

A woman told us about the problems she and her husband had with the Anima system at their GP. They have to use Anima to book appointments and patients are actively discouraged from ringing the surgery. They say Anima is not intuitive – when the email is received about the appointment, the only option to reply is ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Husband wrote “I would like to see someone in person about this” and got a reply saying, “You have cancelled this appointment”. Husband now chooses to go to A&E for assistance as says it’s quicker than waiting two to three weeks for a GP appointment. (Castle Morpeth resident)

Positive feedback

A gentleman contacted us and said that he has experienced very good care at his GP surgery. He needs regular repeat prescriptions and likes that fact that he can walk straight in, fill in a repeat prescription form at the desk, hand it in, then walk just two minutes down the road to the pharmacy. On one occasion he fell over at home and went straight to his GP surgery expecting to be told he’d have to book an appointment. They asked him to take a seat and he was seen by a GP within 20 minutes. He likes knowing that he can drop-in in this way if he needs to and won’t be turned away. (Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley resident)

You can read more in our short feedback report for June 2024

The value of listening: Annual Report 2023-24

The value of listening: Annual Report 2023-24

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2023-24

This year over 12,000 people shared their experiences of health and social care services with us, helping to raise awareness of issues and improve care, or came to us for clear advice and information about topics such as mental health and the cost of living crisis. We published 20 reports about the improvements people would like to see in health and social care services. Our most popular report was Lloyds Pharmacy Enter and View which highlighted the negative impact for patients at the start of pharmacy closures in the county.

How we’ve made a difference this year

  • We drew attention to the impact of pharmacy changes on vulnerable people in the South East of the county
  • We helped the NHS understand why parents in Blyth might attend A&E with a poorly child rather than contact a GP
  • Two young volunteers moved onto higher education with knowledge and experience gained from their time at Healthwatch Northumberland
  • Our website gave people the health information they needed. Our most popular pages were mental health, dementia and LGBT support
  • Our ‘Listening AGM’ enabled members of the public to speak directly to senior decision-makers about the health and care changes they wanted
  • 60 people at our online session heard from the charity Battle Scars about the myths and realities of self-harm
  • We published a guide to help with cost of living pressures and distributed it widely across the county
  • We listened to parents about Health Visiting Services. The provider is now working on an action plan based on our recommendations

Listening to your experiences

Services can’t make improvements without hearing your views. That’s why, over the last year, we have made listening to feedback from all areas of the community a priority. This allows us to understand the full picture, and feed this back to services and help them improve. Our report outlines how we’ve listened to the experiences of local people, including our work to hear from families their experiences of Health Visiting Services, our information on how to get the most from your GP surgery, and how we made sure the views of people living in Harbottle were listened to around a proposal to introduce a mobile healthcare unit in the village.

Hearing from all communities

We have continued to make sure we hear from communities we hear from less frequently. Over the past year we have done this by:

  • Holding monthly drop-in sessions in all areas of the county
  • Hearing from people with learning disabilities about their experiences of health and social care
  • Being part of the Fishermen’s Mission Seafit events at Amble Harbour, bringing services to fishermen, who can find accessing care services difficult due to the nature of their job
  • Working with senior Adult Social Care staff to create the Adult Social Care People’s Advisory Panel
Information and signposting

We can provide confidential and free information to help you understand your options and get the help you need, in line with a ‘making every contact count’ approach. Whether it’s finding a GP practice, making a complaint or choosing a good care home for a loved one – you can count on us. For example, we heard from someone who was having some struggles in their home, and it was unclear what support was already in place. They were unaware of their GP’s Social Prescribing Service, so we referred them on for some help. As a result of this referral and the excellent work of the Social Prescribing Link Worker, the person now has help with weekly cleaning and household tasks as well as receiving a small cash grant for help with heating, some shopping vouchers and other food items to help with the cost of living.

Our online information sessions were a chance for over 250 people to hear from a wide variety of local and national charities and organisations. These included Eating Disorders North East, NECA Gambling North East, Arthritis Action, The Menopause Charity and The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which spoke about the benefits of strength training.

As we were increasingly hearing about the effects on people’s health due to the rising cost of living, we decided to collate information on different support services that exist in Northumberland and produce a printed ‘cost of living support in Northumberland‘ booklet.

Next steps

Over the next year we will keep working across the county, reaching out especially to people less often listened to, for example, people whose work or lives mean they face difficulties in using health and care services. Thank you to everyone who responded to our Annual Survey and for telling us what you think we should work on next year. You said these are

  • Care in the home
  • Hospital discharge
  • Pharmacy

We will continue to work on GP access, dentistry, mental health and audiology services.

View the Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2024 or download a pdf version.


What we heard in May 2024

What we heard in May 2024

Health and social care feedback Northumberland May 2024

Poor communication was the common theme we heard about again this month, with negative comments about hospitals and GP surgeries not communicating with each other, and patients not getting clear communication from the services either.

We were invited by Healthwatch England to give a presentation on our Autism and Young People Report that we produced in the summer of 2022, as an example of good practice. The presentation was given to Healthwatch England’s Research and Insight Network Group. Partly as a result of the feedback on this presentation Healthwatch England has set up a special forum devoted to working with patients with ADHD and autism on its internal webchat site.

Positive feedback

A patient told us “I had an appointment for an ECG. I reported to hospital outpatients reception where I was quickly and efficiently checked in. When I entered the ECG waiting room I was met by a nurse who greeted me politely and confirmed my appointment. One minute later I was taken by another nurse who carried out my ECG check. He was professional and polite and confident. My whole visit lasted around 20 minutes but I must say I felt in very safe hands and these guys were a shining example of pure professionalism. Well done and thanks.”

Negative feedback

A lady reported that her husband had been waiting for two years for keyhole knee surgery. There had been poor communication between the GP, the consultant and the physiotherapist, with each one referring to the next one and going round in circles each time, leading to the long delay.

Find out more in our short report


Your feedback April 2024

Your feedback April 2024

Health and social care feedback Northumberland April 2024

In April the most common issue reported to us was poor communication from service providers. This includes patients having trouble navigating telephone systems or difficulty using online triage systems such as eConsult, at GP surgeries. We also had comments around the cost of accessing private podiatry and dental services.

Our online talk was from Northumberland County Council’s Health Trainer service. We were able to record this session and A good number of people came along to the session and we had permission to record this month’s talk – the link to this and previous sessions can be found on our YouTube channel.

Find out more in our April 2024 feedback report

Here to Hear – at our monthly drop-ins

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.

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

Harbottle update

Harbottle update

Harbottle mobile health unit proposal

We recently helped Northumbria Primary Care, working with North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, to hear what local people think of the proposal to move the GP/nurse clinic, which is currently provided from Harbottle Village Hall, into a mobile healthcare unit. A  survey was designed by Northumbria Primary Care, and distributed to patients of The Rothbury Practice, other local residents plus the local councillor, parish council and also more widely. Several meetings and drop-in sessions gave people the chance to ask questions and feed back on the proposal. The results of this can be found in our engagement report. North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board will make the final decision on whether the proposal will go ahead.


Harbottle mobile health unit proposal engagement report

Your feedback March 2024

Your feedback March 2024

Health and social care feedback Northumberland March 2024

In March the top issues we heard about were difficulties getting an appointment with a GP or a dentist, and the distance to travel to hospital appointments. Like the previous month we had a lot of positive comments about the quality of care received in hospitals. For the first time since we started providing these monthly reports, we also had a handful of positive comments about getting an appointment at a GP surgery in a reasonable timescale

What did we get up to?

We held our Here to Hear drop-in sessions in Bedlington, Alnwick and Morpeth and also attended the Prudhoe Health and Wellbeing event, Northumberland Parent Carers’ Forum Annual Conference, Vision Northumberland’s technology event and the Locality Coordinator’s event at Dalton Village Hall. Our online talk was delivered by Harrogate and District Foundation Trust on the Growing Healthy Northumberland 0-19 service.

Find out more in our March 2024 feedback report

What you told us February 2024

What you told us February 2024

Health and social care feedback Northumberland February 2024

In February there were three main areas of concern, with roughly equal amounts of feedback about difficulty getting an appointment with a GP or a dentist, and the distance to travel and lengthy waiting lists to be seen at hospitals.

There were also a good proportion of positive comments about the good standards of care received from GPs and hospitals.

What did we get up to?

In addition to our usual Here to Hear sessions, we did a number of one-off sessions across the county.Some of these were to support our health visiting services project and we heard from parents and carers at Bellingham Family Hub and Haltwhistle Hub. Other sessions were an opportunity for us to join existing events, such as the CarersNorthumberland group meeting, the Thriving Together network event in Berwick and the Longhoughton Health and Wellbeing event.

We also were commissioned to hear from the residents of Coquetdale about potential changes to primary care services including the use of a mobile health unit.

We held two online sessions this month, from the British Liver Trust and Coping with Cancer. The Coping with Cancer talk was rescheduled from January when we experienced technical issues. The cancer event was very well attended, with more guests than had signed up for the original session.

Find out more in our February 2024 feedback report


Tell us what you think!

Tell us what you think!

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Survey 2024

Every year we ask you to rate the NHS and social care services you and your family have used, in our short annual survey. Your answers help us to see how satisfied people living in Northumberland are with their experiences of care over the last 12 months, and if people are more, or less happy with services compared to previous years.

We’d also like your thoughts on where we should focus our work in the coming year. In previous years we’ve asked the open question, ‘Which services do you want us to focus on?’ This year we’re asking you to choose two from a list of services we hear about regularly, that you’d like us to focus on. We haven’t included GPs, dentists and mental health services as we know these will stay a priority for at least the coming 12 months and we will continue to focus on these services.

The services we’d like you to choose from are:

  • Audiology
  • Support coming out of hospital (hospital discharge services)
  • Pharmacies/Pharmacy First scheme
  • Care in the home
  • Physiotherapy
  • Issues affecting carers
  • Hospital services

Thank you for telling us your thoughts. Together we can make a difference to local health and care services.

This survey is now closed. Please get in touch if you would like to leave feedback about a health or social care service.