We’re recruiting for board members!

We’re looking for board members to help steer the direction of our work. We need people from all of our communities and with different skills and experiences to join our board.

Are you:

  • Aware of current health and social care issues, particularly for people with mental ill health, learning disabilities or people who aren’t being listened to?
  • Good at communicating and listening to people from a wide range of backgrounds and with different experiences?
  • Able to use evidence from service users and research to make impartial, practical judgements?
  • Experienced in setting goals and able to monitor how Healthwatch Northumberland achieves its goals?
  • Experienced in working effectively in a collective decision-making group, board or committee?
  • Committed to working in an impartial and independent way to achieve improvements in health and social care services for service users, carers and the public?

Not everyone will have all the knowledge or experiences listed here, so the board operates as a team, blending together what individuals bring.

Board member positions are voluntary and unpaid and reasonable travel expenses are paid. The board meets four times a year.

Would you like to know more? Read our board member information pack.

How do I apply and what happens then?

Please complete the application form using the Person Specification to tell us about you and why you want to join us. We will use this to decide who to offer an interview.

All applications must be received by 9am on 7 February 2024.

Please note that we may close submissions earlier than this date if we receive a large number of applications.

If a written application is not appropriate for you, an interview-only assessment may be carried out. Please contact Derry Nugent at derryn@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk

Invitations to interview will be emailed to shortlisted candidates. The interviews will be held during February/March 2024.

Board member information pack

Board member information pack easy read

This vacancy is now closed.

Health and social care report October 2023

What you told us: October 2023

Health and social care feedback Northumberland October 2023

This month the biggest issue, apart from difficulties getting an appointment at GP practices, has been poor communication by services. This is around prescriptions in particular, and the communication between patient, GP practice and pharmacy. There have also been communication issues with other services either not communicating with the patient or with each other, which has adversely affected the patient.

What did we get up to?

October was a busy month with an increased number of one-off sessions and events on top of our regular Here to Hear events. We were at Choppington Disability Group’s AGM, Blyth Wellbeing event, Silver Sunday and Mental Health Celebration event (also in Blyth), and Alnwick Garden’s Wellness event, all of which have been well attended and have enabled us to speak to many more people than usual.
Our AGM and listening event at East Bedlington Community Centre was well-attended and we received lots of positive feedback from guests.

This month’s online session on self-harm from Battle Scars was very popular, with our highest ever attendance since we began these sessions.

We ran an online campaign asking people to tell us what they think about their local pharmacy which generated a lot of feedback, almost exclusively positive, with many glowing references to Allendale
Pharmacy. This meant that for the first time since we started the monthly reports in July 2022, we received more positive feedback than negative.

Find out more in our October 2023 feedback report

Health and social care feedback July 2023

What you told us: July 2023

Health and social care feedback Northumberland July 2023

In July the top issues we heard about were difficulties getting GP appointments and finding an NHS dentist. You also told us that some pharmacies were providing incomplete prescriptions. We did however, hear some positive feedback for the service received at dental appointments.

This month as well as attending our usual Here to Hear sessions to hear from the general public, we attended specific targeted groups to get feedback from people we don’t hear from as often.

We hosted our regular online Care Home forum and at our monthly online session we heard from Dr Charles Shepherd of the ME Association who spoke about Long Covid. The session was very well attended – watch the recording of Dr. Shepherd’s presentation.

Read more in our ‘at-a-glance’ report below.

Healthwatch Northumberland report July 2023

health and social care feedback Northumberland May 2023

What you told us: May 23

Health and social care feedback Northumberland May 2023

During May you told us about the difficulties you were having ordering and getting hold of prescription medicine. We also heard from a number of people that they were still having issues booking a GP appointment. Poor service in local hospitals was another theme from feedback this month.

This month we spent time listening to customers of Lloyds Pharmacy in Sainsbury’s Cramlington, about the impact of the planned closure of the pharmacy this summer. We visited the pharmacy, which is the only 100 hours per week pharmacy in Cramlington, at different times of the day and week, to speak to customers and the wider community, to see what effect the closure would have on local people and other pharmacies in the area. We also provided an online feedback form and heard from 230 people.

As well as our regular Here to Hear drop-in sessions in Berwick, Blyth, Prudhoe, Morpeth and Bedlington, we attended events which included Prudhoe Health Week, the Fishermen’s Mission SeaFit event in Amble and the Choppington Disability Group monthly session.

Read our short report below to find out more.

Healthwatch Northumberland report May 2023

Eye care pathways in Northumberland

Eye care pathways Northumberland

Eye care pathways in Northumberland – do they really work and how could they be improved?

In Northumberland, as across England as a whole, growing numbers of people are living with sight loss or impairment. This is likely to increase further as people live longer since a good deal of vision impairment is related to the ageing process. The estimated number of people living with sight loss in Northumberland is 13,500 (4% of the county’s population) which is higher than the national average and this is estimated to rise to 5% of the county’s population by 2032.

Consequently, vision rehabilitation services are considered key to prevention, supporting independence, and reducing demand for health and social care services.

The total estimated indirect cost of sight loss in Northumberland is over £32million. In 2020-2021 people in Northumberland living with sight loss and a wider audience told Vision Northumberland that some people in the county experience unfair barriers to accessing registration and low vision/rehabilitation services, that the eye care pathway in Northumberland was flawed, and that people did not know what services were available to them.

People stressed the importance of:

  • Support close to home rather than travelling to Newcastle
  • Support that focuses on the health and wellbeing impacts of sight loss such as depression, social isolation and loneliness
  • Good support from officers such as Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, low vision specialists and rehabilitation officers
  • Joined up working and effective signposting between services
  • Developing the necessary skills to live with sight loss and maintain independence
  • Access to comprehensive assessments that balance different aspects of a person’s life
  • Health and social care professionals who are compassionate, understand the challenges of sight loss, and have knowledge of visual rehabilitation services and support
  • Accessible information and advice especially in GP services

This report, funded by Healthwatch Northumberland, follows up on that work asking the key questions:

What challenges do people with sight loss in Northumberland experience when accessing registration and low vision/rehabilitation services as outlined in the Care Act 2014?
Does the eye care pathway really work in Northumberland and how could it be improved?

Eye care pathways in Northumberland report

Engagement and Volunteering Officer vacancy

We’re recruiting for an Engagement and Volunteering Officer to join our team!

Hours: 25 hours per week

Contract: Permanent (dependent on funding)

Location: Based in Hexham with travel across Northumberland

Salary: £24,396 pro rata – £16,483 actual for 25 hours. Pay award pending

Benefits: 25 days holiday per year, plus statutory holidays pro rata


Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for health and social care across the county.

Health and social care are never far from the news and it’s an area that affects all of us. Come and join us to work as part of a skilled and enthusiastic team, listening to local people and ensuring their voice is heard in how these vital services are planned and delivered.

It’s a busy time. You can make a difference by supporting our current volunteers and encouraging other people to get involved in our work.

Find out more about this role in the Engagement and Volunteering Officer job description.

To apply please complete the online application form.

Closing date for applications is 9.00am Monday 22 May 2023.

Interviews will be on Wednesday 7 June 2023 in Hexham.

If you would like an informal discussion about the role and Healthwatch Northumberland, contact Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator by email derryn@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk  or call 07590 880016.

This opportunity has now closed

NHS dentistry in Northumberland

NHS dentistry in Northumberland

As part of our work on NHS dentistry services in Northumberland, we, along with 29 other Local Healthwatch, made a formal submission to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee.  The committee has now published the submissions.

The Chair of the Committee, Conservative MP Steve Brine, was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme on 6 March. The item is at 38 minutes in, with reference to Local Healthwatch just after 42 minutes.

In the interview Mr Brine says “We’ve had hundreds of pieces of written evidence from trade bodies, professionals, charities, people working in the profession, but quite a lot of it has been from local Healthwatch and from patients themselves, telling some pretty painful stories of…DIY dentistry…home tooth extractions, people tying shoelaces to teeth…”

At the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 7 March, our Project Coordinator Derry Nugent, urged local elected members to encourage their residents to contact us for issues such as this, which can only be fixed at national level.

NHS dentistry in Northumberland continues to be difficult to access, especially in the Berwick area. If you are in pain and need to see a dentist urgently, please call NHS 111.

Please keep sharing your experiences of NHS dental care, so that we can keep making sure these are heard by those paying for services.


loneliness in young people Northumberland

Loneliness in young people

Loneliness in young people

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched its new loneliness in young people campaign activity as part of the Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign.

The campaign primarily aims to reach 16-34 year olds by continuing to encourage them to ‘lift someone out of loneliness’, knowing that this will likely help their own feelings of loneliness. This is based on recent research that shows that people in this demographic are at higher risk of feeling lonely compared to other age groups, but less likely to seek advice and support.

Remember that feeling lonely is something that all of us can experience at any point and can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.

Sometimes admitting we feel lonely can be hard but it’s important to remember that many others experience feelings of loneliness too, and that this feeling can pass.

It can often feel easier to reach out to someone else who may be feeling lonely and there are plenty of simple, free actions you can take, such as going for a walk, sending someone a text, or inviting someone for a hot drink.


Support and information

If you’re feeling lonely this winter, or want advice on helping others feel less lonely, visit the Every Mind matters loneliness webpage 

Take the Mind Plan quiz to get a personalised mental health action plan with practical tips to help you deal with loneliness as well as stress, anxiety, low mood and trouble sleeping.

Find more resources at our young people’s health and information page

colourful pie chart

What you told us: October 2022

Thank you to everyone who gave us feedback on NHS and social care services last month.

Below is our ‘at a glance’ report for October 2022, which gives an overview of who we have been hearing from and what they told us. What we hear from people living and working in Northumberland helps us build a picture of what is working well and where there are issues in NHS and social care services.

Often, we can get a quick response to your enquiry or signpost you to the right service.

Some issues are already being looked at by other organisations and we pass on your comments and concerns to them so that they have as much feedback as possible from those using services, to help them make decisions and improvements to services.

There are some issues that we look into in more detail and set aside time and resources to investigate further and put together recommendations for change.

Read more about our work.

Healthwatch Northumberland feedback report October 2022

sight loss services Northumberland

Sight loss services project

Understanding the support available for people with sight loss in Northumberland

Contracting organisation: Adapt North East
Contract value: £5,500
Delivery period: March 2022 to June 2022

Healthwatch Northumberland was established in 2013 and is delivered by Adapt (NE) based in Hexham. As defined by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for health and social care across the county. Our role is to give a voice to people who use services, encourage, and influence positive change to services and help meet the health and social care needs of the population.

Contract purpose and focus

This project will learn about the experiences of people in Northumberland who, in the last three years, have been issued with a Certificate of Visual Impairment. This could be due to a diagnosed eye condition or resulting from a health condition or incident (diabetes, stroke etc).

The ‘sight loss pathway’ aims to promote independence and autonomy for adults with sight loss to ensure that services are well coordinated across health and social care. The project will map the current eye care pathways and use the Seeing it My Way outcomes to gather people’s experiences before, during and as we come out of the pandemic. It will seek to understand what services have worked well and ideas for improvements.

This will require desk research, questionnaires/interviews with service providers and commissioners and interviews with people who have used services. The project’s key output will be a report describing the service user and where appropriate, carer experience, highlight good practice and make appropriate recommendations for changes or improvements. The report will be public and will be discussed with Northumberland County Council and health service commissioners and providers before publication.

We anticipate the project will use a mixture of structured and semi-structured individual interviews and possibly focus groups if relevant. The minimum number of participants required who have sight loss is ten. It is important that people from across the county and diverse communities can participate and that participation is accessible to people with sight loss.

Given the on-going Covid-19 situation using online, or telephone methods are acceptable ways to gather feedback. Physical meetings are possible if allowed within Covid-19 restrictions and subject to thorough risk assessment.

1. Contract duration and dates                                                                       

Tender issued: 10 February 2022
Submission deadline: 1 March 2022
Notification by: 10 March 2022
Work to commence: by end March 2022
Interim review: by 30 April 2022
Delivery of draft report: by 4 June 2022

2. Outputs

The key output required is a report with anonymised information:

a) Describing the process, findings and drawing on these to make any appropriate recommendations for further action by Healthwatch Northumberland, commissioners and service providers. The report should include an Executive Summary.

b) Two short case studies which represent the key theme(s) from the findings.

3. Conditions for participation

Applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced individuals or organisations who demonstrate:

a) The ability, capacity, and commitment to meet the delivery timescale.
b) Knowledge or experience of the operation and purpose of sight loss care pathways and services.
c) Understanding of the ways in which patient and carer experience and voice can be used to influence service delivery.
d) Understanding of health and social care provision in Northumberland with a mixture of rural and urban areas, diverse and isolated communities.
e) Ability to work sensitively and appropriately with participants and with due regard to safeguarding for vulnerable individuals.
f) Value for money.

All applications will be assessed against these criteria. All criteria will carry equal weight initially but criteria a) will be used to make a final judgement if necessary.

4. Contract Value
The total contract value is up to £5,500. It is anticipated the work will take 20 days. All contractor costs should be covered in the contract price including travel, subsistence, office and administration costs. Healthwatch Northumberland will agree with the contractor if additional resources are required to ensure the process is accessible to people with sight loss.

5. Procedure for tendering and the submission deadline

In no more than five A4 pages provide:

a) Details of the main contact person for the project, address, phone numbers and e-mail address. If applicable, your website address.
b) Relevant previous experience including your background and, if applicable, the type of organisation you are, including company or charity registration numbers if applicable.
c) Details of the main people who will carry out the work. Due to the nature of the work you will need to be sensitive to the constraints on people’s time, their situations and have a constructive approach to working with service providers.
d) A delivery plan covering what you will do to deliver the outputs and a breakdown of your costs against your proposed activity.
e) A risk assessment including major risks for non-delivery and contingency plans to manage the risks. The risk assessment should also cover risks for Covid-19.
f) A hyperlink to, or attach a document of, one piece of relevant work you have done previously and which you consent to us contacting the contracting organisation, if we choose.

Applications should be sent by email to derryn@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk not later than 9.00am 24 February 2022. All applicants will be notified by 1 March 2022.

6. Payment
The agreed contract price will be paid in two instalments. 50% at commencement and 50% on agreed successful completion.

7. Contract
Adapt (NE) will issue a contract to the successful applicant. This will include a confidentiality clause.

8. Support
The successful applicant will be required to participate in a set-up meeting with Healthwatch Northumberland (costs within contract price) when regularity of contact and support will be agreed. Safeguarding process will also be agreed. At the start of the project Healthwatch Northumberland will agree with the contractor a list of relevant contacts, organisations and networks. Healthwatch Northumberland will introduce the project and the successful applicant to these contacts and to gain data sharing consent.

9. Legal duties
The successful applicant must comply with any legal obligations that may be relevant to the contract such as planning, licensing, employment, safeguarding, data protection, health and safety, insurance, and equality legalisation. The contractor must comply with all relevant Covid-19 safety restrictions in force at the time of the project or imposed during it. The contractor must carry out their own risk assessments for the work and is solely responsible for addressing those risks.

10. Intellectual Property
Adapt (NE) will own the intellectual property on all materials and reports produced.

11. Further information
For further information please contact Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator, Healthwatch Northumberland.

Please email derryn@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call 07590 880016.

This opportunity has now closed.