The value of listening: Annual Report 2023-24

The value of listening: Annual Report 2023-24

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2023-24

This year over 12,000 people shared their experiences of health and social care services with us, helping to raise awareness of issues and improve care, or came to us for clear advice and information about topics such as mental health and the cost of living crisis. We published 20 reports about the improvements people would like to see in health and social care services. Our most popular report was Lloyds Pharmacy Enter and View which highlighted the negative impact for patients at the start of pharmacy closures in the county.

How we’ve made a difference this year

  • We drew attention to the impact of pharmacy changes on vulnerable people in the South East of the county
  • We helped the NHS understand why parents in Blyth might attend A&E with a poorly child rather than contact a GP
  • Two young volunteers moved onto higher education with knowledge and experience gained from their time at Healthwatch Northumberland
  • Our website gave people the health information they needed. Our most popular pages were mental health, dementia and LGBT support
  • Our ‘Listening AGM’ enabled members of the public to speak directly to senior decision-makers about the health and care changes they wanted
  • 60 people at our online session heard from the charity Battle Scars about the myths and realities of self-harm
  • We published a guide to help with cost of living pressures and distributed it widely across the county
  • We listened to parents about Health Visiting Services. The provider is now working on an action plan based on our recommendations

Listening to your experiences

Services can’t make improvements without hearing your views. That’s why, over the last year, we have made listening to feedback from all areas of the community a priority. This allows us to understand the full picture, and feed this back to services and help them improve. Our report outlines how we’ve listened to the experiences of local people, including our work to hear from families their experiences of Health Visiting Services, our information on how to get the most from your GP surgery, and how we made sure the views of people living in Harbottle were listened to around a proposal to introduce a mobile healthcare unit in the village.

Hearing from all communities

We have continued to make sure we hear from communities we hear from less frequently. Over the past year we have done this by:

  • Holding monthly drop-in sessions in all areas of the county
  • Hearing from people with learning disabilities about their experiences of health and social care
  • Being part of the Fishermen’s Mission Seafit events at Amble Harbour, bringing services to fishermen, who can find accessing care services difficult due to the nature of their job
  • Working with senior Adult Social Care staff to create the Adult Social Care People’s Advisory Panel
Information and signposting

We can provide confidential and free information to help you understand your options and get the help you need, in line with a ‘making every contact count’ approach. Whether it’s finding a GP practice, making a complaint or choosing a good care home for a loved one – you can count on us. For example, we heard from someone who was having some struggles in their home, and it was unclear what support was already in place. They were unaware of their GP’s Social Prescribing Service, so we referred them on for some help. As a result of this referral and the excellent work of the Social Prescribing Link Worker, the person now has help with weekly cleaning and household tasks as well as receiving a small cash grant for help with heating, some shopping vouchers and other food items to help with the cost of living.

Our online information sessions were a chance for over 250 people to hear from a wide variety of local and national charities and organisations. These included Eating Disorders North East, NECA Gambling North East, Arthritis Action, The Menopause Charity and The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which spoke about the benefits of strength training.

As we were increasingly hearing about the effects on people’s health due to the rising cost of living, we decided to collate information on different support services that exist in Northumberland and produce a printed ‘cost of living support in Northumberland‘ booklet.

Next steps

Over the next year we will keep working across the county, reaching out especially to people less often listened to, for example, people whose work or lives mean they face difficulties in using health and care services. Thank you to everyone who responded to our Annual Survey and for telling us what you think we should work on next year. You said these are

  • Care in the home
  • Hospital discharge
  • Pharmacy

We will continue to work on GP access, dentistry, mental health and audiology services.

View the Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2024 or download a pdf version.


Annual Conversations: what we heard

Annual Conversations: what we heard

Annual Survey and Annual Conversations 2023

Each year we run an Annual Survey to ask about people’s experiences of health and social care over the previous 12 months.

Last year we wanted to get more detailed feedback from people who we may not usually hear from, and who may not always respond to official surveys about their experiences, through our ‘Annual Conversations’.We heard from people across Northumberland either during conversations within a group setting (focus groups) or as an individual one-to-one conversation. These conversations were not on a set health or social care service/topic but were led by what was important to the person or group and their recent experiences.

We worked with community partners across Northumberland to help us facilitate many of those conversations and we are extremely grateful to them as well as the people who provided valuable feedback to us.

During January and February 2023 we also ran a short online survey which was open to all residents of Northumberland to complete. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this by telling us about your experiences.

Read more about what we heard in our Annual Survey and Annual Conversations this year.

Annual Report 2021/22

Annual Report 2021/22

Championing what matters to you


Our Annual Report 2021/22 gives an overview of our work over the year. Filled with local photographs from all four corners of the county, the report highlights how we made a difference to people in Northumberland who use health and social care services.

You told us about your experiences of local pharmacies, home care, dentistry and GP services, helping providers know what matters to you and ensuring your views are included in plans for these services. Our Signposting and Information Service enabled over 3000 people to find out more about support and services in our area, and you can find examples of how the service provided confidential support and information.

View the Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2021/22

or download a pdf version.



Tell us about the NHS and social care service you and your family have used recently.

Annual Report 2020/21

Annual Report 2020/21

Find out what we got up to in the last 12 months in our . Read about the highlights of our year including our work on care home visits and how we worked with others to get results.

There are also examples of how our Information and Signposting service helped individuals, and how our fabulous volunteers continued to support us and our communities through the pandemic.

There are lots of fantastic Northumberland photos inside too!

If you’d like to tell us about your experiences of care or have a query for our Signposting and Information Service, please get in touch.


View the Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2020/21