Healthwatch staff talking to public

Berwick Listening Event – Our Response

Healthwatch Northumberland attended the drop-in session arranged by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHCT), Northumberland NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northumberland County Council at The Swan Centre in Berwick on 27 September.

We had received feedback from local residents at a number of events earlier in 2018 and shared these with NHCT and the CCG.  At this event Healthwatch Northumberland wanted to hear local residents’ views of the proposals and the ways in which they had been involved in developing them. Healthwatch Northumberland proactively approached was approached by members of the public at the event.  The key themes reported were:

Development of New Hospital

The investment for the development of a new hospital was welcomed by everyone we spoke to. The variations between the proposals in 2014 and the current proposals, particularly but not exclusively, the number of beds were mentioned by most people. The ability to provide end of life care and post-operative recovery services were felt to be compromised by having 16 beds.  People reported that what was happening now is that patients and carers are travelling to other hospitals at great cost and inconvenience.Questions were asked about how the new hospital would cope with the increased population from new housing in the area.

Location

The current proposal was viewed negatively for the location. The Swan Centre site was felt to be too small to accommodate both an adequate hospital and leisure centre.  One respondent described the hospital plans as “a glorified clinic”.  There were concerns about access by public transport and parking and the loss of a children’s play area as a free public amenity.

Integrated service

There was no support voiced for an integrated health and leisure centre.  There were varied interpretations of what ‘integrated’ meant – either one building with one door, two buildings on the same site with or without coordination of services and referrals.  People were unable to say what benefits an integrated service would bring for them.

There was uncertainty that the space allocated for the Union Brae GP practice was adequate.

Services

The list of services to be offered at the new hospital raised several concerns mostly with the assertion that they represent the services currently offered and therefore there will be no reduction in the level and range of services.  One person described the list as “what is now is not what it was”.

There was questioning about why services were offered at Alnwick or other hospitals rather than Berwick.  People were not clear if there were clinical or organisational reasons.  There were reported experiences of this being the choice of specific doctors.

The service that was most often mentioned as being problematic was pre-assessments.  There was general concern that while this is listed as a service currently offered monthly at Berwick, in reality people have to travel to Alnwick.  As the appointments are short this was felt to be a huge impact for patients and carers in terms of time and cost.

The availability of outpatient appointments at Berwick was felt to be largely irrelevant as appointments at other hospitals were offered more quickly.  This was seen as patients in Berwick having no real choice, inconvenient and costly.  This was exacerbated by reported incidents of appointments at other hospitals being cancelled at short notice or when the patient had arrived or to find the appointment was not as anticipated – e.g. not a consultant appointment.

There was some acceptance that a full accident and emergency service would not be offered again.  People reported difficulties with the Minor Injuries Unit being unable to deal with their case through not having the necessary equipment or clinical staff or having to call an ambulance which was then delayed.  The reliability of the ambulance service in the Berwick area was mentioned as a factor in the confidence in a Minor Injuries service; one respondent said “if we don’t have an A&E we need a good ambulance service.”  Another person suggested between midnight and 8am there is a need for something “to see you through until the ambulance arrives”.

Specific concerns were made about the removal of audiology and ophthalmic services.  The removal of endoscopy equipment was especially keenly felt as the equipment had been purchased through acts of local philanthropy and fundraising.

Engagement

Concerns were made about the timing and process of involving local people in the development of the proposals.  The delay from 2014 and the changes between the two sets of proposals were noted and requests for the differences to be explained.

While the overall investment was welcomed, mention was made of what other options were considered and how the final services list had been determined.  One person commented “What else could the money buy?  We don’t know”.

Comments were made about the flow of information with many people saying they were not aware of the proposals until it was raised via Facebook.  When asked what communication methods they would like to see used for such developments suggestions included  ‘town hall’ style public meetings timed for evenings and weekends as well as during the day.  Advertising via local networks of voluntary and community organisations was mentioned and one resident said ‘Post Offices still work’ meaning a direct mail shot.

Language was also mentioned with a preference not to use phrases such as ‘integrated service’ and ‘engagement’ without explanations.

Suggestions received about the 27 September meeting included a presentation in addition to the information boards, as due to the numbers attending it was difficult to read and digest the information.  The wrap around section in the Berwick Advertiser was not viewed as helpful as it came out on the day of the session so did not help advertise the event or give people time to consider the information.  Overall people found the purpose of the session unclear as it followed an Overview and Scrutiny Committee where it was felt a decision had been made.

Conclusion

The feedback about Berwick Hospital proposal gathered by Healthwatch Northumberland on 27 September supports the feedback gathered from earlier engagement about the choice of bringing together health and leisure services.

The additional information about the process of engagement throughout the process suggests that people who attended the 27 September meeting felt that they would have liked more information on some key questions at an earlier stage of the process and via more diverse communication methods.

We would welcome the opportunity to reflect and discuss these points with NHCT and the CCG and how it will help to shape future engagement exercises in this and other situations.

We also attended the Union Brae Surgery Flu Clinic on 29 September and will pass on feedback received there in due course.

 

Man receiving forms from receptionist

GP Services

We received lots of feedback about GP services in our annual survey this year. We would like to look a bit closer at this and would ask you to share your experiences, so that we can find out directly from patients what is happening in their GP surgeries and identify good practice. Please click here to leave your comments.

young people in group

Insight Report – Young People’s Mental Health Services

This report shares the insights from Healthwatch Northumberland’s on-going work to understand the different mental health services available for young people and the barriers they may face in using them.

Using the combined evidence from young people themselves and professionals in the statutory and voluntary sectors our aim is to highlight good practice and promote positive solutions to the commissioners and providers.

Read the full report here.

graphic representing germs

Flu Clinics

The engagement team are attending flu clinics at Union Brae Surgery in Berwick and Greystoke Surgery on Saturday 29 September, asking patients about their experiences of health and social care in general, and GP services in particular. We will also be present at the flu clinics at The Sele Practice in Hexham on the mornings of Tuesday 2 and 9 October. Come and talk to us on our stand in the surgeries – look out for the green polo tops!

People holding 'speak up' messages

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM 2018 – you’re invited!

Our AGM is a chance to hear about the work of Healthwatch Northumberland over the past year, what you’ve told us and how we’ve made a difference in the community. The theme this year is ‘self-care’. Our guest speaker is Stephen Blackman, Chief Officer of North of Tyne Local Pharmaceutical Committee. Information stands from local health and support groups and organisations will be at the event for you to chat to and find out more. There might even be a giveaway or two! Lunch and refreshments will be provided for all guests.

 

Date: Tuesday 16 October 2018

Venue: Newbiggin Sports & Community Centre, Woodhorn Rd, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea NE64 6HG

 

10.00am: Tea, coffee and information stands

10.30am: Message from our Chair, David Thompson

10.40am: Overview of the year, Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator

11.00am: Comfort break and information stands

11.15am: Guest Speaker, Stephen Blackman, Chief Officer, North of Tyne Local Pharmaceutical Committee

Followed by a prize draw, lunch and another chance to visit the information stands.

If you would like to attend please register here or give us a call on: 03332 408468.

Please email in advance any questions you may like to ask on the day, to: info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk. Please also let us know in advance if you have any special dietary requirements.

Parents with new baby

Tell us your story about mental health during pregnancy

We want to know more about you or your partner’s experience of mental health support when planning to get pregnant, during pregnancy, at the birth of your child and afterwards.

Share your views

Did you know?

As many as one in five pregnant women and new mums experience some form of mental health challenge. Partners can also be affected, with one charity estimating that 1 in 3 new dads are concerned about their mental health.

Why we want your views

The NHS is spending more money on maternal mental health support but we want to know if this is making a difference. We want to know whether services are doing everything they can to support people with mental health challenges during or after pregnancy to ensure the whole family is supported. You can help by sharing your experience or encouraging anyone you know who might be affected to complete our short survey.

Take five minutes to share your story – complete the survey. You can also find out more about how Healthwatch plans to tackle mental health over the next few years.

Male doctor talking to a patient

Our Annual Survey Report

2018 Annual Survey

Each year Healthwatch Northumberland asks supporters, residents of Northumberland and wider networks to complete a survey. This year a record 579 people responded giving us a wealth of information about your experiences of health and social care services.

The survey has nine questions about the types of services used, frequency of visits and with the opportunity to leave comments, hundreds of which have been reviewed to help Healthwatch Northumberland to understand what is happening in the county.

This report shares the themes which emerged from the survey.  These have helped us prioritise work for 2018 – 2019.  We also hope that it stimulates debate and conversations between individuals, communities, those who plan and provide our health and social care services.

We will be talking in detail about the findings at our AGM in October – if you’d like to come along you can find out more and register here.

Read the Annual Survey Report 2018

 

Collingwood Medical Group

Collingwood Medical Group

Update: 14 August 2018

Now that letters have been sent and patients have information about the closure of Collingwood Medical Group, we would like to hear from anyone who has had any problems registering with a new practice, or any other issues, to get in touch.

 

Patients of Collingwood Medical Group in Blyth have been informed that the current provider of the practice is unable to continue providing GP services after 30 November 2018. After careful consideration of all the available options, Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has reluctantly decided to close the practice permanently. It has issued patients with a list of alternative practices in the area is asking them to begin thinking about registering with an another practice in the coming months.

Three drop-in meetings have been arranged for any patients who would like to stop by for a short time to gain further information or raise any concerns in person. These sessions will be attended by the CCG alongside representatives from NHS England, Collingwood Medical Group, Healthwatch Northumberland and the Patient Advice and Liaison Service.

They are taking place at the following times:

• Wednesday 4 July: 1.00pm – 3.00pm, Blyth Community Enterprise Centre, Ridley Street, Blyth NE24 3AG

• Wednesday 11 July: 2.00pm – 4.00pm, Briardale Community Centre, Briardale Road, Blyth NE24 5AN

• Monday 16 July: 4.30pm – 6.30pm, Blyth Community Enterprise Centre, Ridley Street, Blyth NE24 3AG

More detailed information about practices is available on the NHS Choices website. You can also read about Patient Choice of GP Practices here.

View of Berwick town from the bridge

Berwick Hospital Proposals Engagement

As part of the consultation process, Healthwatch Northumberland was asked by NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to hear from certain groups of people about the proposed sites and idea of a joint hospital and leisure centre in Berwick.

We spoke to 90 individuals through activity with a number of local voluntary groups and week long information stands set up in both Wooler and Berwick. People were shown maps of the proposed site locations and asked to choose a preferred location for the new hospital, and if they were in favour of a combined leisure centre and hospital.

Read the full report.

 

Board member talking to member of the public

Board Member Vacancies

Healthwatch Northumberland is looking to appoint up to four new independent volunteer board members who will play an important role in setting and overseeing the county-wide strategy. Please download an application pack and application form or call 03332 408468 for more information or a copy of the pack in the post.

APPLICATION PACK

APPLICATION FORM