Healthwatch Northumberland feedback report 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

Healthwatch Northumberland feedback report 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


Healthwatch Northumberland annual survey 2024

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

Please let us know what you think online, or get in touch for a postal copy with freepost return. If you’d like to tell us your views over the phone please call 03332 408468, or text 07413 385275 to arrange a call back. Closing date is 6 May 2024.

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

Debra Carers Northumberland

Caring for carers: Debra’s story

Debra Blakey is the Chief Executive Officer of Carers Northumberland and one of our organisational board members. Debra has been on the board for six years, providing invaluable experience and insight. Debra spoke to us about the work of Carers Northumberland and the important relationship with Healthwatch Northumberland.

Debra says “Carers Northumberland is a charity that aims to improve the lives of unpaid carers in the county. We support unpaid carers of all ages, including adult carers of adults, young carers (aged under 18 years) and parent carers (caring for someone who is under 18 years with additional needs). Unpaid carers sometimes don’t see themselves as carers, as they are often a husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister, neighbour, or friend, but they are providing vital support to someone who would struggle to manage without their help.

We offer advice, information and support to our 7000+ registered carers. We do this in a variety of ways, including via our telephone information line, carer groups, workshops and training, benefits and financial support, grants to enable carers to take a break from caring, support to navigate social care and health provision, plus trips, events, and activities.

I have worked for Carers Northumberland since 2008 (almost as long as it’s been going!) when I joined as an Administration Officer, and I’ve been in the role of Chief Executive Officer since 2018. I have a degree in Criminology and worked in both private organisations and for Northumbria Police before starting in the voluntary sector at Carers Northumberland. I am passionate about making a difference to people’s lives and having worked for a charity for over 15 years I couldn’t see myself working in any other type of organisation now.

I enjoy reading, going out to eat, and love visiting new places. I’m also a keen runner (well I run so that I can enjoy eating cake) and I believe in the benefits of exercise for mental wellbeing. I actually think I enjoy how good I feel about myself after a run more than the actual run itself.

Probably the achievement I am most proud of is securing funding to pilot a Young Carer Support Service to run alongside our existing service for adult carers.  We launched the service in 2020 during a global pandemic, but it has gone from strength to strength, and we are now working very closely with schools in the county to raise awareness of young carers in education to encourage early identification and provide tailored support.

Carers Northumberland has been an organisational board member of Healthwatch Northumberland since its inception, which highlights how valuable our relationship is. Both organisations are striving to improve the health and social care landscape for service users, patients and their families and carers and we have collaborated on several major pieces of work over the past ten years. Being able to feed the views of carers into Healthwatch Northumberland ensures that the carer voice is heard by key decision-makers in the county is invaluable.“

Carers Northumberland supports all carers of all ages and can be contacted by telephone: 01670 320025, email: or visit the website.

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.

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Healthwatch Northumberland mid-year report July to December 2023

Mid-year trends in feedback Jul-Dec 2023

Between July and December 2023, we received detailed feedback from 422 individuals from talking to people at face-to-face events, telephone calls, emails, our website, social media, and other sources. This is significantly more than the previous six months (where we heard from 226 individuals between January and June 2023). We signposted 59 people to different organisations for further support. This is down slightly from the 61 people we signposted between January and June 2023. Our social media content had a reach of 77,000 and over 7000 engagements, and our website had 16,000 views.

The feedback we have had in the past six months has mainly been around four services.

1. GP services: 30% of all feedback received in July to December 2023 was to do with GP services. Accessing GPs and arranging appointments were the main issues being raised, with concerns about the quality of care being provided another common theme. However, approximately one in five comments we received about GP services were positive.

2. Pharmacies: 14% of all feedback received was to do with pharmacies, with over half of the comments being positive feedback about Allendale Pharmacy. This was in response to our online campaign in the autumn urging people to tell us about their pharmacy. The biggest concern, featuring in one in five comments, was around receiving incomplete prescriptions and supply issues at pharmacies.

3. Hospitals (unspecified department): Just over 10% of all feedback received in July to December 2023 was about hospitals in general. Just under half of this feedback was positive about the quality of care and the ‘brilliant staff’. The biggest concerns raised were about access, with a roughly equal split between long waiting lists and the distance patients needed to travel to attend appointments. These two issues combined featured in one in five negative feedback comments.

4. Dentists: Dentists made up 7% of the overall feedback we received. Unsurprisingly, getting an appointment with an NHS dentist was the predominant concern, with approximately three quarters of the feedback we received being about this issue. Unlike the feedback on the previous three categories, the sentiments expressed were overwhelmingly negative, with less than one in 25 of the comments we received about dentists being positive.

Read more in our mid-year report for July to December 2023.

Health and social care report Northumberland January 2024

January 2024 feedback

Health and social care feedback Northumberland January 2024

Difficulties getting a GP appointment featured the most in this month’s feedback, although there was a notable number of comments praising the service patients had received from their GP. The distance to travel was raised as a concern around hospitals but again, there was a sizeable number of positive comments praising the quality of care received in hospital. The third most common issue raised was accessing NHS dentists, with complaints around getting an appointment being the most common.
What did we get up to?

January got off to a busy start with many one-off sessions in the community, over and above our regular Here to Hear sessions. These helped us to gather feedback about Health Visiting Services. This a major piece of work looking into what’s working well and not so well in order to feedback to the NHS.

We analysed what we heard from service users about experiences of getting dentistry work completed, which is our contribution to research into the state of dentistry across the whole of the North East and North Cumbria. This is a joint project with the other Local Healthwatch in the region.

We launched a recruitment campaign for board members and volunteers to join our team. If you are interested in volunteering with us find out more on our volunteering page.

Find out more in our January 2024 feedback report.

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

Things I wish I’d known before my loved one went to live in a care home


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.

Accessing dental treatment in the NE and NC

Experiences of NHS dentistry

Tell us your experience of NHS dentistry

People have been telling us about the challenges they face getting NHS dentistry.

Using your feedback we are working with the NHS Integrated Care Board in the North East and North Cumbria to help shape future services, including planning the next phase of the NHS dental recovery plan in the region.

Across the North East and North Cumbria, the local Healthwatch network is working together to tackle this important issue.

So if you live in Northumberland or anywhere else in the North East and North Cumbria region and have recent experiences with using or trying to access dental services, then share your experiences with us.

We are the independent champion for users of health and care services in Northumberland. Your responses will inform decision-makers in the North East and North Cumbria NHS Integrated Care Board (who are funding this research), service providers and partners including Local Authority Public Health teams.

As a thank you for your time we are offering £100 of Love2shop vouchers to a lucky prize draw winner.

If you require a paper copy or have any questions please get in touch.

Please leave your feedback before Sunday 31 March 2024.

This survey has now closed

Growing Healthy 0-19

Online event – Growing Healthy Northumberland 0-19 Service

Online event – Growing Healthy Northumberland 0-19 Service

Join us on Friday 8 March, 1pm-2pm, to hear from Rachel and Sam from the Growing Healthy Northumberland 0-19 Service.

They will talk about what services are provided by the 0-19 Service for children, young people, and families in Northumberland, including the Health Visiting Service, 5-19 Service and their digital offer.

Suitable for mums, dads, grandparents, carers and professionals alike, Zoom in to find out more about these services for the children in your life.

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