Couple in a doctors surgery

10 Top Tips for your GP appointment

We know from our conversations with the public that some patients report feeling rushed during appointments and struggle to make themselves heard. As appointment times can be limited, Healthwatch has pulled together some top suggestions that could help you get the most out of visiting your GP.

 

  • Is your issue urgent? Do you need to see a specific GP?
    Is it important you are seen quickly or would you rather wait for an appointment with a particular GP? If you have a long-term illness would you benefit from seeing a GP who knows your history personally?
  • Take notes to help you
    Before you see your GP, be clear in your own mind what you want to say. Make a note of your symptoms, worries and any questions that you would like to ask.
  • Many problems? See if you can book a double appointment
    If you have a number of issues that you would like to discuss with your GP, see whether it is possible to book a double appointment to give you more time to talk them through.
  • Take a list of your medicines – prescribed or otherwise
    Bring a list of any medication you are taking, including over-the-counter and/or alternative medicines, or anything prescribed after a hospital visit.  This includes tablets, liquids or creams. Your GP needs to know about everything you are taking.
  • Discuss important things first and stick to the point
    Make sure you tell the doctor about the important things first and try to get to the point. Do not feel you have to justify being there or leave your main concern to the end.
  • Not clear on treatment plan? Ask again
    Make sure you fully understand the next steps before you leave the room.  If you don’t, then don’t be afraid of asking your GP to go through the plan again.
  • Ask who to contact if you have any more questionsYou may think of questions that you would like to ask after your appointment. Find out who you can contact to ask questions, as well as any support groups that can provide reliable information.
  • If you need support, take a relative, carer or friend
    If you feel your situation needs it, take a relative or friend for support. They can help you understand or explain.
  • Unhappy? Ask to see another GP
    If you’re not happy, you can ask to see another GP in the practice. You can also change GP practices, but you should as a first step always discuss your concerns with a practice staff member first.
  • Could the practice nurse deal with your problem?
    In many cases, a practice nurse could deal with your concern, so consider this as an alternative to making an appointment with a GP. The surgery may also run special clinics such as asthma and diabetes, so make sure you find out.

If you would like to know more about the questions you can ask your doctor to get the most out of your consultation, take a look at the comprehensive list developed by NHS Choices.

These tips are based on guidance from Healthwatch Trafford, Healthwatch Central West London, Which? and NHS Choices.

Alcohol Awareness Week

Alcohol Awareness Week 2017

This year’s Alcohol Awareness Week begins Monday 13th November. The focus is on families and alcohol, and the campaign’s organiser, Alcohol Concern, will be taking the opportunity to start a conversation around harmful drinking to help break the cycle of silence and stigma that is all too often experienced by families. The campaign will be sharing the stories of people affected by harmful drinking, as well as case studies of alcohol services doing great work around the country.

If you are a family member who has been affected by a relative’s drinking and would like to share your story, please get in touch at: contact@alcoholconcern.org.uk

 

Useful Information

Families affected by harmful drinking

I think my parents drink too much

How much should I be drinking?

Dental check up

Coquetdale Dental Practice

Patients have been told this week that Coquetdale Dental Practice is to close permanently. The practice has surgeries at two sites; Rothbury and Hadston. NHS England has written to all patients explaining the situation along with answers to some frequently asked questions. The letter contains information about alternative dental services; we would be interested to hear about people’s experiences of registering with a new dental practice and any issues with access.

Contact Us

 

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM

Thanks to everyone who attended our AGM 2017

The fourth Healthwatch Northumberland AGM which took place on Wednesday 11 October at Stannington Village Hall was attended by over 70 people. The event saw partners and local organisations come together with supporters and other members of the public to review the year of work 2016/17. Former Chair of the Board, Cynthia Atkin, was thanked by current Chair, David Thompson, for her work over the year and since the inception of Healthwatch Northumberland, and was presented with a bouquet of flowers.

Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator, gave a presentation reviewing the last 12 months, and outlining the strategic priorities for Healthwatch for the coming year and beyond.

Special guest speakers were Graham Tebbutt and Barry Dews from North East Ambulance Service, who presented on the new ambulance response times which take effect this month, and how these will affect the people of Northumberland. Many questions were raised by the audience on this interesting and important topic; more information on the standards can be found here.

A marketplace of information stands from local organisations provided support and advice for guests of the meeting; they were: Carers Northumberland, Age UK Northumberland, Northumberland County Blind Association, PALS, Northumberland CVA, Independent Advocacy and Complaints Services, Ageing Well Allies and Northumberland Cancer Support Group.

David Thompson, Chair, says; ” All in all, this was a well attended and illuminating AGM with thanks due to the many stall holders who were able to display and talk about the varied services which they offer to the wider community.  Importantly, the event also presented an opportunity for members of the public to raise issues of general concern to Healthwatch Northumberland staff and board members. This is what we are all about – listening to what people have to say about their health and care services and then responding in the most appropriate way to councillors, commissioners and providers. And that is what we shall continue to do during the remainder of this year, and beyond.”

Our new satisfaction survey was launched at the event and those who completed it were entered into a free prize draw to win a fruit basket, supplied by Fresh n Thyme Mobile Fruits and Vegetables. The basket was won by Liz Johnston of Northumberland Cancer Support Group.

The Healthwatch Northumberland AGM was filmed by Hexham TV and can be viewed on its Facebook page. Minutes of the meeting will be available here on the website shortly. Thanks go to everyone who came along and helped make the day a success.

Rothbury Village

Our response to the decision to close inpatient beds at Rothbury Hospital

A great deal of concern has been expressed by people within Northumberland about the decision taken on 27 September 2017 by the Joint Locality Executive Board to close the 12 in-patient beds at Rothbury Community Hospital.

Having considered the information circulated prior to the Joint Locality Executive Board and representatives having attended the meeting, board members of Healthwatch Northumberland saw justification in responding to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in a letter forwarded on 5 October 2017. This was followed one week late by a response from Janet Guy, Lay Chair of the CCG. Both letters can be found below for your information.

The County Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed the in-patient bed closures on 17 October and decided to refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Health. His decision is awaited with interest. In the meantime, Healthwatch Northumberland will continue to act as an independent champion to ensure the interests of the wider community remain at the heart of all decisions made about health and social care throughout the county, by listening to the views of local people and engaging in meaningful dialogue with the CCG.

David Thompson, Healthwatch Northumberland Chair.

Letter to the CCG re. Rothbury Hospital

Response from the CCG re. Rothbury Hospital

 

Please note: Any response to news items by individuals or organisations are the views of those posting the response.  They do not reflect the view of, nor are they solicited by Healthwatch Northumberland unless this is explicitly stated in the news article.

Rothbury Village

Decision made on inpatient beds at Rothbury Hospital

Health leaders in Northumberland have decided that the 12 inpatient beds at Rothbury Community Hospital should be permanently closed and that existing health and care services should be shaped around a Health and Wellbeing Centre on the site.

The decision was made at a meeting, held in public today, of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Joint Locality Executive Board.

The inpatient beds were temporarily closed in September 2016, a decision which led to local residents setting up the ‘Save Rothbury Cottage Hospital’ campaign group.

The Board, which includes GP leads from across the county, says it took into consideration feedback from a three month period of public consultation which showed how much people have valued the inpatient services at the hospital and which included the community’s vision for how services should be provided in future. They also considered analysis which showed that since the interim closure of the beds a year ago there had been no unexpected pressures in local health and care services and no evidence of adverse medical consequences on individual patients.

Read the full article

 

Sustainability and Transformation Plan Engagement Events

During January 2017 NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group hosted a series of public engagement events at locations across the county regarding the draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan  (STP) for Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and North Durham. The plan can be viewed here.

A summary of the key areas of feedback received from attendees of the events plus questions and answers from each event can be found below.

STP Engagement Jan 2017 summary