New Ambulatory Care Centre Open

A new ambulatory care centre opened this month at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.  Ambulatory care is treating urgent conditions on a same day basis, without you being admitted to hospital.This is a consultant-led service provided alongside specialist nurse practitioners. Diagnostic scans may be available same day, and with medications dispensed straight from the ward, any potential delays for patients are minimised and treatments are received promptly.The ambulatory care centre is not a walk-in centre, instead patients are referred from the emergency department, their GP or other healthcare professional. The only exception to this is emergency gynaecology which patients can self-refer into. This centre will aim to treat patients on a ‘same day’ basis to prevent admission to hospital, allowing patients to receive the care they need as rapidly as possible before returning home.

If you’d like to know more about the ambulatory care centre please visit Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Dementia report

Are people with dementia getting the right support?

To find out whether people are getting the right dementia support as their condition deteriorates, Healthwatch England reviewed:

  • What over 700 people said about their care
  • Data from 97 councils about whether people’s needs are being assessed and reviewed
Fewer than half of all people with dementia, who use social care, are getting the regular care reviews they are entitled to. Councils must ensure that these reviews are happening in a timely fashion, to meet the requirements of the Care Act 2014 and to make all care plans responsive to people’s changing needs.

Key Findings

  • People don’t always have a clear understanding of the support available to them and how to access care.
  • On average, people wait over two months between requesting support for dementia from the council, to that support being put in place. However by the time that people ask, they are at crisis point.
  • Once people have a care plan, only 45% are reviewed annually.
  • People with dementia are more likely to receive unplanned reviews triggered by an emergency or sudden event than general social care users.
  • 65% of people with dementia who had a review were referred for a full reassessment. However, half of these reassessments led to no change in the level of care and support.
  • One third of people with dementia, using long-term care services did not receive any review, whether planned or unplanned.


Oral Care in Care Homes

This week Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its latest report on oral care health in care homes.

Their findings reflect what people have been telling Healthwatch nationally, including the problems people face in accessing dentists.

Key findings from CQC

  • People who live in care homes do not always get the support they need to maintain good oral health.
  • 52% of care homes have no policy in place to support resident’s oral health. This could mean care home staff are not aware of the need to support people with daily mouth care, like brushing their teeth.
  • Many residents are not able to access oral health products like toothbrushes as care homes would not provide them, as they are seen as a cosmetic product, not a health care one.
  • One third of care homes said they had had difficulty accessing routine NHS dentistry services. Some managers reported that domiciliary dentists refused to visit care homes.

In response to the publication of the report, Healthwatch England Chair, Sir Robert Francis QC, said:

“Healthwatch has investigated the lack of oral healthcare in care homes for a number of years, and it is encouraging that this issue is now being addressed. Daily oral health support, which includes simple things like the daily brushing of teeth, is important to maintaining people’s overall health and it needs to be taken seriously.

“I am pleased that we have been able to work with the CQC to raise the profile of this issue and it is encouraging to see that practices are beginning to change. We want people to have the confidence to know that if they speak up to Healthwatch, action will be taken.

“What we learnt from this report is that we must improve oral healthcare training for care workers. It can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of people living in care homes when care workers have a better understanding of what is good practice in oral healthcare and how they can support people to maintain good oral health.

“This report makes it clear that this issue is about more than just about access to dentists in care homes. The lack of availability of dentists is an growing issue that needs immediate attention. There is an increasing number of people who struggle to access high street dentists, and we urgently need to look at how we can successfully address this issue.”

Integrated Care Systems Confirmed

This month the NHS confirmed that the North East and North Cumbria is set to become the country’s largest integrated care system.  In an integrated care system, NHS organisations, in partnership with local councils and others, take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS standards, and improving the health of the population they serve. Please see the full press release below.



One in three people in England, 21 million, are set to further benefit from improved health and care, as three new areas were today announced as ‘integrated care systems’ (ICS).

The North East and North Cumbria will become the country’s largest ICS, serving more than three million people alone.

South East London becomes the first ICS in the capital while Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West makes up the third new area where different health and care organisations work together to plan and join up services.

Each has shown that its partners all share a common vision to improve health and care, backed up by robust operational and financial plans, and proposals for collective leadership and accountability.

They follow in the footsteps of the 12 earliest integrated care systems announced in 2018, plus two devolved health systems in Greater Manchester and Surrey.

ICSs are already helping people to stay healthy and independent for longer, giving more care closer to where they live and work, and improving response times and performance in areas such as cancer and A&E.


Successes to date include:

  • 100,000 more general practice appointments available for patients in Gloucestershire backed up by extra home visits from paramedics and physiotherapists, and medication advice from clinical pharmacists based in GPs’ surgeries
  • Best practice care for people with atrial fibrillation is being expanded to every GP practice in West Yorkshire and Harrogate. This will prevent nearly 200 strokes to 2021, saving £2.5 million in costs that the NHS will reinvest elsewhere.
  • a single care record for each of Dorset’s 800,000 residents, allowing health and care professionals across the county to see the same information in real time. Joining up information in this way means patients no longer need to repeat their story to different teams and improves care because their full needs are better understood.

These changes have been made possible by different organisations – NHS hospitals, GPs, councils, care homes and others – joining forces to agree and plan for local people’s needs.

Speaking to health and local government leaders at the NHS Confederation’s conference NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens is expected to say “The Long-Term Plan showed how the NHS and its partners will improve care and help people live healthier day-to-day lives over the next decade.

“To meet these ambitions, every NHS organisation will need to intensify partnership working with others – including local councils and community organisations – for the good of those we serve.

“These areas are among those showing the real gains of collaboration: helping more people to stay well and avoid needless trips to hospital, while making it easier to get high-quality specialist care.

“We must keep a laser focus on making services as convenient as possible – everyone should feel like they are dealing with one system instead of having to repeat their story to a series of different organisations.”

 Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council  and Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board said “The move to integrated care across the country gives us the opportunity to really make a different for our residents and communities.  Locally, I’m convinced that working together in partnership with the NHS we will deliver huge benefits to the health and care system and will improve the health and wellbeing of Oxfordshire’s residents.”

 The systems will be built on a foundation of primary and community care, with primary care networks bringing together different professional teams – GPs, pharmacists, mental health and others – to invest a growing share of funding to do more in community settings.

They will also lead the way in developing a shared, in-depth understanding of residents’ full health needs, using ‘population health management’ technology to identify those at greatest risk of different ailments and supporting them as early as possible.


Amble Harbour

Health and Wellbeing Board Meeting

The Newcastle Chronicle this week reported on the discussions which took place at the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board meeting, which is attended by Healthwatch Northumberland Chair, David Thompson.

Siobhan Brown, Chief Operating Officer of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which commissions the county’s healthcare services, set out how the CCG’s operational plan for this year will help to meet the goals of the Northumberland Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

The strategy has four themes: Giving children and young people the best start in life; Empowering people and communities; Tackling some of the wider determinants of health; Adopting a whole system approach to health and care.

Read the full report

New Northumberland MSK and pain service announced

NHS Northumberland CCG has announced changes to musculoskeletal services in the county – please see their statement below. Healthwatch Northumberland would like to hear from people across all parts of Northumberland who use these services currently, about the service they are receiving and how they are affected after 1 July when the new service begins. To get in touch please visit our Contact Us page.


NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is pleased to announce, following a comprehensive procurement process, that Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) has been awarded the contract to provide a new musculoskeletal and pain service in partnership with Connect Health.

The term musculoskeletal condition (MSK) includes well over 200 disorders affecting joints, bones, muscles and soft tissues. Some of the most common conditions that would be seen in the new MSK and pain service include back pain, sprains and strains, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.  The new service is for patients in Northumberland aged 16 and over with MSK or pain issues where all other conservative treatments have been considered.

Commenting on the new contract, Dr John Warrington, Director for Planned Care for the CCG said: “The successful bid was of a high standard with some exciting developments that will enhance the care of Northumberland patients.”

As part of the procurement process, the CCG carried out a period of engagement to provide patients and GPs with an opportunity to comment on how the new service should be designed.

John continued: “We know from our engagement with patients that they want quicker access to appointments and referrals, and we recognise the positive impact this has on patients’ diagnosis and treatment. The new service will ensure all patients across the county have equal access to high quality NHS services. The bid forms a partnership between Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation and Connect Health. Connect Health has successfully been awarded many NHS contracts throughout the country and will bring their tried and tested systems to Northumberland. We are keen to work with both organisations, who also have the potential to offer innovative developments to further improve care for Northumberland patients.”

MSK problems are the most common reason for repeat appointments with a GP, comprising up to 30% of primary care consultations nationally. In recent years, as the number of elderly people in the community has increased, the number of people with MSK conditions has also risen. The new service, which will be called Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service (JMAPS), will improve access for patients and provide them with the opportunity to choose care based on their desired outcomes and personal preferences.

Nicky Moon, Deputy Director for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the preferred bidder and together with Connect Health, we are looking forward to delivering the best possible service for the people of Northumberland. We are currently working with staff on the implementation plan. Our experience of providing MSK services over previous years gives us a fantastic foundation on which to build and we know we have a dedicated and highly skilled workforce ready to deliver this new service.”

Professor Andrew Walton, Executive Chair for Connect Health said: “I am delighted that Connect Health will be able to support the population of Northumberland in the delivery of a robust and innovative Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service. Here at Connect Health, we are confident that we will be partnering with a really enthusiastic team at Northumbria Healthcare who advocate the same patient-centred values that we do. We will demonstrate our commitment to improving the lives of people living with musculoskeletal problems and persistent pain and I’m truly excited about how we can be creative with how we deliver this.”

The CCG will now work with the Trust and Connect Health to ensure the service is up and running by July 2019 and those patients using existing services experience a seamless transition.

Quarterly Report October – December 2018

As independent champion for people who use health and social care services, we listen to your experiences of using these services.  This report shares the themes from the feedback we received between 1 October to 31 December 2018.

We receive feedback and enquiries by:

  • Talking to people at local community events
  • Telephone calls, emails and social media
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups on specific issues

Healthwatch Northumberland is open to all feedback about health and social care services but respondents to our Annual Survey identified five priorities for specific focus these are mental health services, dementia care services, home care, GP services and access to services.

Between October and December 2018 we had 98 individual pieces of unsolicited feedback and we spoke with approximately 530 people face to face. We attended flu clinics at GP practices in Tynedale, North Northumberland and Castle Morpeth, talking to a wide range of older residents and those with long term conditions and learning disabilities. We were at Morpeth, Berwick, Prudhoe, and Widdrington libraries during Library Week. We also attended “Winter Warmer” and SEND events, the Carers’ Rights
Day at Berwick and spoke at the Belford Parish Council and the Belford Practice Patient Participation Group.

Read the October to December 2018 report in full.


Pharmacy Opening May Bank Holiday

Another Bank Holiday is on its way, so make sure you pick up any prescriptions you may need before then. Some pharmacies in Northumberland will be open for a time on Bank Holiday Monday 27 May. Click on the link below to see when your nearest pharmacy is open. It is recommended that you call before visiting.

Pharmacy Opening Northumberland Summer 2019


Annual Survey 2019 Headlines

We had a 35% increase in responses to our annual survey this year; thank you for taking part. We had responses from all area of the county apart from just one or two postcodes. 64% of people said that overall, their experience of care services in the past 12 months had been good or excellent, whilst 13% described their experience as poor – a similar figure to last year. The main themes to emerge are:

  • GPs – many favourable comments but appointments are still a concern, in terms of availability rather than the process of getting them.
  • Communication within and between services causes concern across all services
  • Fewer concerns reported about Patient Transport than last year
  • GP services and mental health services remain a priority for people
  • Some concerns around access to services

A full report will be available soon.

Healthwatch logo and people icon

Come and Work with Us!

We are recruiting for an Engagement Officer to join our enthusiastic and effective team.


£23,685.56 (pro rata £13,443.15)

Part time 21 hours a week

Permanent dependent on funding

Closing date midnight  Thursday 11 April  2019

Based in Hexham with travel across Northumberland


Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for health and social care across the county.  Our aim is to give a voice to people who use those services, influence positive change to services and help meet the health and social care needs of the population.

Health and social care are never far from the news and it’s an area that affects most of us.  Joining Healthwatch Northumberland will give you the opportunity to work as part of a skilled and enthusiastic team making the voice of local people heard.  It’s a busy time and you can help make a difference.

If you would like an informal discussion about the role and Healthwatch Northumberland, contact Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator:


Job Description

Application Form


Listening Event – Blyth Library

Come and talk to us about your recent experiences of NHS and social care services, pick up some information about local NHS, health, care and support services and find out more about our Conference in October.

If you’ve used any NHS or socia care service recently we’d love to know what you thought. Did you have a good experience? Or could things have been better? Tell us about mental health services, audiology, emergency care, NHS 111, Gps and practice nurses, dentists, care homes and pharmacies.

We’ll have some of our sought after freebies for you including our woolly pens and stress balls.

Healthwatch Northumberland Conference 2019

Listening Event – Blyth Sports Centre

Come and talk to us about your recent experiences of NHS and social care services, pick up some information about local NHS, health, care and support services and find out more about our Conference in October.

If you’ve used any NHS or socia care service recently we’d love to know what you thought. Did you have a good experience? Or could things have been better? Tell us about mental health services, audiology, emergency care, NHS 111, Gps and practice nurses, dentists, care homes and pharmacies.

We’ll have some of our sought after freebies for you including our woolly pens and stress balls.

Healthwatch Northumberland Conference 2019

NHS Northumberland CCG logo

CCG Meeting in Public: Rothbury

The NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) governing body is holding a meeting in public, where it will consider future arrangements at Rothbury Community Hospital. The CCG is responsible for the planning and buying of healthcare for Northumberland.

If you would like to submit a question for the meeting, or would like to confirm your attendance, please contact: Melody Price on 01670 335185 or email:

Read more about the consultation on services at Rothbury Community Hospital.

Haltwhistle Listening Event

We will be at Haltwhistle Library this month, listening to local people’s views and experiences on the NHS and social care services they have used. If you live in the area, we’d love you to call in and tell us about the services you and your family have used. We will also have information about help and support from local organisations and can help you find the services you need for a particular health condition or issue. For more information give us a ring on 03332 408468.

A Space at the Table

Screening of locally made film about dementia

Peter Woods of HexhamTV has made a film with a group of carers from Amble who are looking after their partners with dementia.

The film  is called ‘A Space at the Table’ because the space at the table that the person living with dementia would normally fill is gradually fading away with far reaching implications for each person living with dementia and also for their partners.

The film which lasts for an hour and 16 minutes is very personal and powerful and comes with a warning that it is not suitable to be shown to those living with dementia, those under 16 or to people who may be adversely affected by seeing its contents

With the kind support of Tynedale Dementia Action Group and The Forum Cinema, Hexham, Peter’s film is now being shown during Dementia Action Week 2019, on Wednesday 22 May, to highlight the honest and truthful experience of carers of partners living with dementia in Northumberland..

For more details and to book for this free screening click here.

For information and support regarding dementia please visit our dementia page

Northumberland Pride

We’re so pleased to be a part of the Northumberland Pride event again this year.

Northumberland Pride is a county wide organisation set up in 2017 to raise awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT+) culture and heritage. This is done this by promoting equality and diversity for the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The group also provides safe spaces which break down barriers that promote inclusion and support across Northumberland.

2018 saw the first Northumberland Pride in Alnwick. The event was attended by over 2,500 people and thecolourful march through the town centre of Alnwick attracted over 500 people. Visit our stand to tell us about your experiences of NHS care and social care – you could win our fantastic sequin dog!

Northumberland Pride website

Sequinned cuddly dog toy

Sequin Dog Northumberland Pride

Hexham Abbey Living well in tynedale

Living Well in Tynedale

This event is hosted by Tynedale Dementia Action Alliance and is designed to be a fun afternoon that can help optimise physical and mental health.

Everyone is welcome to come along and find out what support and activities are available in the area. Highlights will include:

  • How to stay active and fit
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Start new hobbies and interests
  • Financial advice and resources
  • Live music

Refreshments will be available at the event. Healthwatch Northumberland will be there so make sure you come and say hello!

Watering can on a lawn with daffodils

Stepping into Spring Roadshow: Blyth

This is one of a series of free events for older people in Northumberland, from Ageing Well in Northumberland. The event is a chance to meet local organisations offering advice and information on staying well and keeping active. Call in for a cup of tea or coffee and have a chat about local events and activities, volunteering opportunities and keeping fit and healthy.

For more details about this event please email:




Panoramic view of Wooler

Glendale Health Awareness Fair

The Glendale and Cheviot Primary Care Group Patient Participation Groups are once again running a health awareness day at The Glendale Hall.
There are many health groups and organisations attending so there is something there for everyone. The event is being opened by Liz Morgan, Director of Public Health and some of the groups attending are:

Healthwatch Northumberland                                                                                                                                                                                         Age UK
Support Planners
Health Trainers
Hospice at Home
Carers Northumberland
Hear to Help
Diabetes UK
Assistance Animals
Stroke Association
Northumberland County Blind Association
Paramedic (if available)
Podiatry Services

The WI will be providing soup, tea, coffee and cakes.

Please pop in and see what help and support is available to you.

Watering can on a lawn with daffodils

Stepping into Spring Roadshow: Hexham

This is one of a series of free events for older people in Northumberland, from Ageing Well in Northumberland. The event is a chance to meet local organisations offering advice and information on staying well and keeping active. Call in for a cup of tea or coffee and have a chat about local events and activities, volunteering opportunities and keeping fit and healthy.

For more details about this event please email: