Healthwatch Northumberland Board

Healthwatch Northumberland – Join our Board

Healthwatch Northumberland Board

Healthwatch Northumberland is looking for up to four exceptional people with a keen interest in, and passion about, ensuring local communities have their say on heath and social care services, to join our board.

Find out more below and please apply by 6 November 2019.


Healthwatch Northumberland Board Recruitment Information

Application Form

Healthwatch Northumberland Strategic Plan

Help us understand Patient Participation Groups

Help Healthwatch Northumberland  to understand Patient Participation Groups


We have an exciting opportunity for someone to help us understand more about how the Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) in the county work and how they interact with the health service commissioners and providers.

Healthwatch Northumberland is committed to working in partnership with key groups in local communities and with decision makers, providers and commissioners of health and social care services.   We recognise that PPGs in GP practices are an important way in which local people can influence the services on offer, and how improvements can be made for the benefit of patients, carers and the practice.

The brief below tells you more about the work we would like to do and how you could help us to achieve it.   The closing date for submissions is 9.00am on 24 October.

To discuss the project contact Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator or 03332 408468


Understanding Patient Particpation Groups in Northumberland



Where to find Hearing Loss Services

As we hear from people across the county about their experiences of audiology services in Northumberland – services to help with hearing loss – it is becoming apparent that not everyone knows where their local service is and what is on offer. The information below shows clinic locations and times, plus places where hearing aid supplies are provided. Some GP practices, district nurses and libraries also supply hearing aid batteries. Please check with your local service.


Audiology Services for residents of Northumberland. The contact number for all locations is: 0191 223 1043. Email:


Freeman Hospital, Adult Hearing Aid Repairs

9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)

There is also a postal service available from the Freeman for replacement tubing and batteries. Please call for details.


Alnwick Infirmary

Tuesdays by appointment only



Union Brae & Norham Practice, Berwick

Tuesdays by appointment only

n.b. Replacement batteries are now supplied by Berwick Library in the town centre Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm and 10:00am to 5:00pm on Saturdays


Corbridge Health Centre

Tuesdays by appointment only


NHS Cramlington, Manor Walks

Monday, Tuesday and Friday by appointment only, excluding Bank Holidays


Hexham General Hospital

Mondays and Tuesdays by appointment only, excluding Bank Holidays


Morpeth NHS Centre

Thursday and Friday by appointment only


North Tyneside General Hospital

Monday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday all day and Friday afternoon, by appointment only, excluding Bank Holidays


Oaklands Health Centre, Prudhoe: hearing aid/s batteries are provided here


Ponteland Medical Group: hearing aid/s batteries are provided here


For more support and information on hearing loss please contact Action on Hearing Loss on: 01670 513606.

Mental health and the Journey to Parenthood

Find out what’s working well for people and what needs to improve when it comes to people about their mental health experiences before, during and after pregnancy, in a new Healthwatch report.

The arrival of a new baby is a major life event for any family. It can be joyful, exciting, overwhelming and challenging all at once, so it’s essential that parents get all the support they need to help them form strong bonds with their children and help lay the foundations for a healthy, happy life for all involved.

Over the last year, our network has gathered views and experiences from women and their partners. Each one of these stories was different and highlighted that every person’s experience is unique to them.

Three common issues

  • People feel their mental health problems are triggered by a variety of issues
  • People don’t know where to turn for help
  • People feel scared about how people will respond if they speak up
  • Healthwatch is calling on everybody who interacts with prospective and new parents to make more space for people to discuss how they’re feeling, and to find out what they need to do if they need mental health support.

Find out more about what people said in the report.

Healthwatch Northumberland Conference

Join us at our Conference 2019

If you use NHS or social care services and live or work in Northumberland, we’d love you to come along to our bigger and better Conference 2019. The Conference will take place at The Phoenix Theatre in Blyth on Wednesday 16 October, between 10.00am and 3.30pm.

Join in the community conversation at this free event with information and listening workshops about mental health, dementia, substance abuse, social prescribing, patient involvement, GP services and more.

We aim to make the day informative, interactive and entertaining. This is a chance for you to share your experiences of care with those who provide it and find out what’s available locally.

There will be an ‘information buffet’, free raffle and lunch and refreshments provided.

To register for a place please call us on 03332 408468 or visit Eventbrite

Audiology Services

We would like to hear from Northumberland residents about their experience of using local audiology services (services to help with hearing loss) and the aftercare they receive. We are interested in finding out what is working well and what needs improvement. We will be at the following locations where you can call in and tell us about the services you’ve used.

Bellview Centre, Belford: Tuesday 10 September, 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Ponteland Medical Centre: Thursday 12 September, 12.00pm – 1.00pm

Age UK, Ashington: Wednesday 18 September, 10.00am – 11.00am

Adapt (NE), Hexham: Thursday 19 September, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

Seaton Delaval Community Centre: Tuesday 1 October, 10.00am – 11.00am

The Mount, Morpeth: Thursday 3 October, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

Corbridge Health Centre: Tuesday 8 October, 10.00am – 11.30am

Alnwick Infirmary: Tuesday 15 October, 9.30am – 11.00am

Berwick Library: Thursday 17 October, 11.00am – 1.00pm

Union Brae Surgery, Berwick: Thursday 17 October 1.00pm – 2.30pm


If you are unable to make one of these sessions and would like to feedback about audiology services, please get in touch with us directly

The Hear to Help Project from Action on Hearing Loss closed at the end of April 2019. Hearing aid support is now available directly from NHS audiology services. Find out where you can get support.

Rothbury Community Hospital

Progress on future of Rothbury Hospital

Northumbria Healthcare and NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have announced that significant progress has been made towards resolving the future of Rothbury Community Hospital following work undertaken alongside local campaign groups.
Following a public consultation in early 2017, a subsequent referral to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) and recommendations by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, both organisations have been working with the community to get the most out of this much-loved facility.Following extensive meetings and discussions with representatives from the local community, the trust and CCG are proactively looking to:

  • Increase outpatient clinics, from falls clinics through to orthopaedics and others, some of which will use new technological links that enable virtual consultations.
  • Provide additional clinical and day care services utilising the hospital site as a hub for health and care delivery.  Services include:
    • Dementia care
    • Learning disability forums
    • Health and well being clinics
    • Chemotherapy care
    • Enhanced emergency healthcare planning
    • Mental Health and IAPT services (adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme)
    • Physiotherapy
    • Dentistry
  • Introduce a new metric to measure the number of miles travelled for services and, where possible, the NHS will look to reduce this.
  • Introduce a flexible bed model – with inpatient beds available within the hospital for short-term rehab and end of life care.  The number of beds will be dependent on clinical need.

Sir James Mackey, Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare, said “We are committed to providing as much care as we can as locally as possible.  However, this has to be balanced with what is safe and sustainable.

“We have worked hard, with the support of local representatives, to create ‘the art of the possible’ and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their involvement and patience during this time.

“It will not be easy to deliver a flexible bed model, something that does not exist anywhere else within the NHS. However, we are committed to working hard to make this work and will continue our engagement with the campaign group over the years to come to ensure we collectively make Rothbury Community Hospital the hub of health and well being for the local community.”

Janet Guy, Lay Chair of Northumberland CCG, said “We looked in detail at the Secretary of State’s recommendations and set up an engagement group with representatives from the local community to understand their concerns in more depth.

“We have listened to what the engagement group has had to say and are pleased that we now have a potential way ahead for the hospital which addresses many of the group’s concerns. We look forward to working together to ensure that the new model meets the needs of the community in ways which are effective and sustainable.”

The proposal will now be considered by Northumberland County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 3 September 2019.

Katie Scott, spokesperson for the ‘Save Rothbury Community Hospital’ campaign group, said “In recent months we have worked very closely with officials from the NHS. We are pleased to see that our concerns and ideas for the hospital have helped to inform and shape the proposals.  We look forward to the discussion at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee when there should – at last – be a resolution, including inpatient beds, which will allow us all to focus on a vibrant future for Rothbury Community Hospital.”

Councillor Steven Bridgett said “In the nearly three years since the 12 in-patient beds at Rothbury Community Hospital were closed I have been in awe – and am immensely proud – of the way the community has rallied round its local hospital. The ‘Save Rothbury Hospital’ team, in particular, have done a brilliant job.

“Since the Independent Reconfiguration Panel recommendations were announced the campaign, CCG, trust and myself – working alongside other community representatives – have met regularly to come up with proposals that will safeguard the future of the hospital.

“We are not there yet but I believe this offers a sensible, pragmatic compromise, that will see beds return to Rothbury hospital for step up, step down and end of life care, in addition to a number of other new services and I am very excited about what it means for the residents of the Coquet, Aln and Rede Valleys. But ultimately, it is the residents who live in these valleys that should decide and I welcome their opinions on these new proposals.”

Healthwatch Northumberland’s view has always been that the trust and CCG should listen to local people, involve them in developing the service and show how their views had been taken into account.  Having been involved with the Engagement Group we feel more assured this has happened.

We note that a lot of work is still to be done including engaging with the wider pubic to create understanding and support and we welcome this.

Quarterly Report – January to March 2019


Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for people who use health and social care services. We are a listening organisation working across Northumberland,to find out what people like about services and what can be improved. We act on what people are saying, sharing their views with those who have the power to make change happen. We also help people find the information they need about services in their area and record this as ‘signposting’.

People who use health and social care services tell us about their experiences throughout the year. This report shares a summary of the feedback collected from January to March 2019.  The next report will cover April to June 2019.


This quarter we received feedback and enquiries from:

  • Talking to people at local community events (18%)
  • Telephone calls, emails and social media (55%)
  • Surveys and Feedback forms (21%)
  • Through meetings and third parties (6%)


Areas of Focus

We are open to all feedback about health and social care services. Responses to our Annual Survey helped us to identify three specific areas of focus which we are prioritising in 2019:

  1. General Practitioner Services (GP Services)
  2. Mental Health Services, including dementia care
  3. Access to Services


The report aims to increase understanding of:

  • Who Healthwatch Northumberland is hearing from
  • What people are saying
    • The general sentiment of comments
  • What people are experiencing
    • What is working well?
    • Where there are areas for improvement?

Read the January to March Report in full


NHS Long Term Plan – Our Report

Thanks to everyone who told us their views on the local implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan.

NHS England and NHS Improvement asked Healthwatch to work with communities across the country to find out how the NHS Long Term Plan should be implemented at a local level. More than 30,000 people from across England shared their views about how the NHS can better support them in keeping well and how it can improve care for specific conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and autism.

Staff and volunteers from all 151 local Healthwatch across England also held more than 500 focus groups, bringing together people from all sections of the community to share how they would improve local NHS services.


Overall Satisfaction

In Northumberland, the specific health conditions which people told us about were cancer, autism, heart and lung diseases, mental health and long term conditions. People with cancer and autism reported the most positive experiences and those experiencing dementia and mental health services, the most negative. Of this group of respondents 62% felt the support they received when they first tried to access help did not meet their needs, 23% felt it did meet their needs and 15% thought it met their needs ‘somewhat’. 17% described the waiting time to receive an initial diagnosis as ‘fast’ with 63% rating it as ‘slow’ or ‘very slow’. Those with mental health conditions were the most dissatisfied with the speed of being referred to a specialist, cancer was the only condition where the referral rate was said to be ‘fast’. People with specific conditions show a preference for diagnostic services to be within an hour’s travel time. This is especially marked for those with mental health problems.


Travelling for Diagnosis

71% of respondents in this category used a car as their way of travelling. Living in a large rural county an hour’s travel time is important as it has different implications for those who can drive to appointments and those who rely on public transport or being driven by friends and family. Those with dementia reported using a taxi and carers pointed out the difficulty of driving with a person with dementia. The difficulty of accessing alternative or planned transport – either NHS or charitable – was noted, as dementia is not routinely an automatic qualifying condition. People with specific conditions showed a higher preference for services up to one hour travelling time away, but were prepared to travel further.

The feedback we received in Northumberland via surveys and the focus groups we held fed into the combined Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Durham report.

Read the full report


Dementia report

Are people with dementia getting the right support?

To find out whether people are getting the right dementia support as their condition deteriorates, Healthwatch England reviewed:

  • What over 700 people said about their care
  • Data from 97 councils about whether people’s needs are being assessed and reviewed
Fewer than half of all people with dementia, who use social care, are getting the regular care reviews they are entitled to. Councils must ensure that these reviews are happening in a timely fashion, to meet the requirements of the Care Act 2014 and to make all care plans responsive to people’s changing needs.

Key Findings

  • People don’t always have a clear understanding of the support available to them and how to access care.
  • On average, people wait over two months between requesting support for dementia from the council, to that support being put in place. However by the time that people ask, they are at crisis point.
  • Once people have a care plan, only 45% are reviewed annually.
  • People with dementia are more likely to receive unplanned reviews triggered by an emergency or sudden event than general social care users.
  • 65% of people with dementia who had a review were referred for a full reassessment. However, half of these reassessments led to no change in the level of care and support.
  • One third of people with dementia, using long-term care services did not receive any review, whether planned or unplanned.