Text - NHS Long Term Plan

NHS launches Long Term Plan

The NHS has launched its Long Term Plan which it says will make the NHS fit for the future and get the most value from taxpayers’ investment.

The plan has been drawn up by those who know the NHS best, including frontline health and care staff, patient groups and other experts. The opinions and interests of 3.5 million were heard and taken into account when drawing up the plan.
Below you can read the plan in full or a summary of the plan.
Healthwatch graphic with two people

Healthwatch Northumberland Quarterly Report July – September 2018

People who live in Northumberland and who use health and social care services tell Healthwatch Northumberland about their experiences throughout the year. This report shares the themes which emerged from 1 July to 30 September 2018. The next report will cover October to December 2018.

We receive feedback and enquiries from:

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

We are 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 July and September 2018 we had 59 individual pieces of unsolicited feedback and we spoke to 170 people at 32 engagement events.

Read the Report

The Whalton Unit, Morpeth

Whalton Unit to relocate to Wansbeck General Hospital

Please note the section in bold below regarding transport arrangements for families visiting patients who have been transferred from the Whalton Unit.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has made the following announcement:
‘In order to ensure that staffing is as resilient as possible for winter, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has announced that the Whalton Unit in Morpeth is to temporarily transfer to Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington.
The inpatient ward, which delivers specialist rehabilitation for frail older patients, will move to its new, interim, home in Ward 8 at Wansbeck hospital from Wednesday 19 December.The relocation – which will be reviewed next summer – is to ensure that there is adequate staffing to cope with the expected increase in demand over the winter months.In line with care of the elderly wards across the country, the Whalton Unit has faced significant recruitment issues for both nurses and doctors and the subsequent use of locum doctor and bank and agency nurse cover has made continuity of care challenging.Being based within Wansbeck General Hospital will enable more cross-cover and support across teams; making the workforce more resilient and flexible.It will also make it easier for inpatients to access other hospital services such as diagnostic tests which currently involve them being transported; something which can be difficult for frail older patients.Usage figures since April 2017 shows that only around half of patients staying at the Whalton Unit are from the Morpeth area. Almost 30 per cent live in areas which are equidistant to Wansbeck hospital with nearly one in five living closer to the new location.
The trust recognises that travel may be more difficult for some families and has arranged a transport solution for those disadvantaged by the new location. Anyone affected after the move is urged to discuss this with the ward team on 01670 529008.
Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would like to reassure the local community that this much-valued service provided from the Whalton Unit will be transferred to Wansbeck General Hospital in full and we remain committed to providing the highest standards of care to our patients in the new, temporary, location.
The multi-disciplinary team which are the cornerstone of this service and has vital links to follow-up care in the community will re-locate to ensure that patients requiring further rehabilitation in hospital are able to receive this without interruption.
Winter is an extremely busy time for the NHS with increased numbers of frail older patients requiring admission and subsequent rehabilitation. For these reasons we must ensure that we have appropriate staffing in place where demand will be highest. Being able to draw on the wider staffing pool already in place at Wansbeck will aid our efforts to do this.
We fully appreciate that people from the Morpeth area may find it difficult to travel to Wansbeck hospital to visit loved ones and we’d urge anyone with any issues to contact us on 01670 529108.”
Outpatient, diagnostic and community services provided at Morpeth NHS Centre are unaffected by the move.’
Annual Report Front Cover

Healthwatch England submits new report to Parliament

In his first annual report to Parliament as Chair of Healthwatch, Sir Robert Francis looks beyond health and social care performance statistics to explore how people are experiencing care day-to-day across England.

Drawing on evidence from 406,567 people, over the last year Healthwatch has looked at what people are saying about GPs and community services, hospitals, social care services and mental health support, as well as issues that are common to all four areas of care (see below).

Over the course of the year, our network shared 2,053 reports with local services and decision makers about the improvements people would like to see.

The collective findings of these stories and reports show a real mix of views, with people continuing to receive outstanding care, much of which people say is down to the dedication shown by the extraordinary staff who keep things running.

However, it is also becoming clear that others struggle to access the support they need, with services not getting the basics of care right. Examples Healthwatch has worked on over the last year include care home residents not being able to see an NHS dentist and hospitals not providing the right information to help prevent patients having to return unnecessarily.

Issues like these require the NHS and social care system to be looked at as a whole rather than focusing on the headline targets for individual parts of the service.

Yet as it stands, services are not always able to spot the gaps between them and the impact this is having on the people they care for.

With the NHS Long Term Plan imminent, and the government’s plans for social care due in the New Year, listening effectively to people needs to become “part of the DNA” of health and care in England. From the beginning of the planning process to the provision of services to individual patients, insight from people need to be used to shape decisions and better track performance.

Healthwatch is doing its part. Since 2014 we have created the health and social care sector’s single biggest source of user insight, gathering more than 1.4 million experiences and views. We have also set a clear goal to step this up further, by reaching a million people a year by 2023.

Encouragingly, those working in health and social care are also using our insight more than ever before, drawing on our evidence and calling on our expertise to engage with communities up and down the country.

The government’s commitment to invest billions more in the NHS provides a rare opportunity to invest for the long-term in a building a culture where staff at all levels work in equal partnership with communities to shape the way services run.

Chair of Healthwatch England, Sir Robert Francis, says,

“The government’s investment of extra billions in our health service gives us a great opportunity to think about how that money should be spent, and how we can track the impact of any changes to ensure they deliver the help people want and need.

“To do this, we want to see people’s experiences of care become part of the very DNA of the decision-making processes throughout the NHS and social care sector.

“I have seen first-hand how a purely target driven culture within the NHS can actually be bad for people’s health, both patients and staff. To focus exclusively on performance measures can leave services with a false belief they are succeeding without any real idea whether people’s care and support needs are being met or where things might need to change.

“Listening to people and learning from their stories is the best way to get the balance right, and to ensure services have the evidence they need to shape care around the real-life needs of those they serve.

“The outstanding efforts of our local Healthwatch teams, supported by more than 5,000 volunteers, have created an evidence base of people’s experiences that is simply unparalleled. What’s more, we can see this insight being used to shape some of the biggest debates in health and care.

“For me, this is just the beginning. Over the next five years, we are looking to create a movement that puts people at the very heart of health and social care. To do this we need people to keep coming forward, keep sharing and help services hear what really matters to them.”

Four common themes

From the hundreds of thousands of stories gathered by Healthwatch in the last year, we have identified four themes which people commonly experience across all services.

  1. Better information to make the right choices
    With the right information, the public is not only empowered to make better decisions about their health and care, but know where to go for help when they need it. However, this information isn’t always available, and when it is, it can be too technical, confusing or difficult to find.
  2. Easier access to support
    Quicker and easier access to health and care services is essential. It can take a long time for people to get the support they need. Many experience delays at every step – from getting an initial appointment, in waiting rooms, and to see a specialist for further treatment. Repeated cancellations also indicate that the NHS doesn’t value people’s time. Technology used correctly offers the potential to alleviate these barriers and provides easier access to services, and to earlier diagnosis.
  3. Improved conversations
    We know people want to be involved in decisions about their treatment and care. Good communication between professionals and the public helps people to be more informed, understand their choices, and manage their expectations. This is particularly important for people with disabilities or people who don’t speak English as a first language.
  4. Well-coordinated services
    Navigating health and social care can be complicated. People want a seamless experience across different services. When services work well together, it not only makes things easier for people but also reduces the risk of serious issues being missed.

Read the full What Matters Most Report 

Download an Easy Read What Matters Most Report

Rothbury Village

Rothbury Hospital – Task and Finish Group

A new group will examine proposals put forward by the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) regarding the future of Rothbury Community Hospital.

The services at the hospital are commissioned by the CCG and in October 2017 the council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) met to consider the proposed closure of the 12 bed inpatient ward at the hospital, with services being shaped around a new health and wellbeing centre on the site.The committee referred the final decision to the Secretary of State for Health. Last month he announced that while the inpatient ward should not be immediately re-opened, further action is required to agree and implement the proposed health and wellbeing centre.

The Minister asked for an update on progress by the end of January 2019.

The council has already pledged to work closely with the local community, Healthwatch Northumberland and the CCG to develop proposals for the hospital over the coming months. Councillor Jeff Watson, who also leads the Health and Wellbeing OSC, will chair the new review group. At the first scoping session it was agreed that the CCG and OSC would fully engage with the community as the health and wellbeing centre is developed, while there is also a joint assessment on the impact of travel, cost and inconvenience for families and carers of those affected by the planned closure.

Councillor Watson said: “As timescales are tight it is important we set up a small working group to ensure progress is made quickly. Although an update is required by the Secretary of State by the end of January we do recognise work will continue beyond then which the OSC will need to monitor and review.”

David Thompson, Chair of Healthwatch Northumberland, added: “We welcome the opportunity to continue our involvement in this crucially important issue for people in the Rothbury area, in our role as independent health and social care champion. We would encourage people to get in touch with us with their ideas and views.”

A meeting of the review group, which the public can attend, will be held in the council chamber at County Hall on 10 December at 9.30am.

Northumbria Hospital

Accident and Emergency at The Northumbria

This month we’re working with Healthwatch North Tyneside to find out more about why people go to the A & E department at The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital. We will have an information stand in the waiting room at various times over the next few weeks and will be asking patients to answer a few questions about their visit.

Healthwatch staff and volunteers will be asking people about their experiences of the A & E department and why they are choosing to use this service. The information given to us will remain anonymous. We will share a summary of the responses we receive with the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and use the information to help understand what is working well and what can be done differently.

GNCR focus group with Healthwatch

Join the Great North Care Record Webinar

Last year we held 20 engagement events, along with other local Healthwatch across the North East and North Cumbria for Connected Health Cities (CHC) and Teesside University, to discuss the Great North Care Record. (more details about that work here). Researchers at Newcastle University have analysed the feedback from the focus groups and produced a report. The findings from this report are informing the future development of the Great North Care Record. Those who attended the events and anyone interested in the findings and what the Great North Care Record team is doing next, are invited to take part in an online discussion.

Taking place on Wednesday 7 November this one hour webinar will be a chance to hear what people think about sharing their health information, what is being done to put this into practice and how you can get involved.


Register Here

Great North Care Record Website













woman rubbing her shoulder

Share your views on new Musculoskeletal Service

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is looking to develop a new musculoskeletal (MSK) and pain service.  The aim is to provide a service that will improve access for patients and provide them with the opportunity to choose care based on their desired outcomes and personal preferences.

To ensure the new service is centred on people’s needs the CCG wants to hear your views. If you have ever suffered from any of the below, please help them by completing a short survey (link below).

  •              Back pain
  •              Osteoarthritis
  •              Rheumatoid arthritis
  •              Osteoporosis
  •              Fibromyalgia
  •              Neck pain
  •              Ligament injuries
  •              Sprains and strains
  •              Over-use injuries
  •              Chronic pain management, or
  •              Another MSK related condition


Complete the Muskuloskeletal Survey

The survey is open until 24 October 2018. The CCG will also set up a number of focus groups to discuss the new service during October. If you wish to be involved please contact or call 01670 335198.


graphic representing germs

Flu Clinics

The engagement team are attending flu clinics at Union Brae Surgery in Berwick and Greystoke Surgery on Saturday 29 September, asking patients about their experiences of health and social care in general, and GP services in particular. We will also be present at the flu clinics at The Sele Practice in Hexham on the mornings of Tuesday 2 and 9 October. Come and talk to us on our stand in the surgeries – look out for the green polo tops!

View of Berwick town from the bridge

Berwick Hospital Proposals Engagement

As part of the consultation process, Healthwatch Northumberland was asked by NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to hear from certain groups of people about the proposed sites and idea of a joint hospital and leisure centre in Berwick.

We spoke to 90 individuals through activity with a number of local voluntary groups and week long information stands set up in both Wooler and Berwick. People were shown maps of the proposed site locations and asked to choose a preferred location for the new hospital, and if they were in favour of a combined leisure centre and hospital.

Read the full report.



pair of wellies

Bellingham Show

We have our wellies ready for the Bellingham Show – we’ll be there with our Healthwatch Northumberland stand and bright green polo tops! This is a great opportunity for people living in rural locations in Northumberland to talk to us about their and their family’s experiences of health and social care. We’ll have lots of activities for children and giveaways – sign up to our newsletter or give us some feedback and you could get a fluffy pen or stress ball!

Entertainment at the show this year will include live bands, horses, sheep, terrier racing, children’s activities, good food, crafts, sheep, traditional games, wrestlingNorthumbrian piping, beer tents, children’s rides, vintage vehicles, dog show, fell racing and a motocross stunt display team as the main attraction.


NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Annual Public Meeting

Members of the public are invited to attend the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Annual Public Meeting. The Annual Public Meeting will be held on Wednesday 27 June 2018 at 10.00am in Committee Room 1, County Hall, Morpeth.

This is an opportunity for local people to find out how the CCG has performed in the past year and how it plans to meet the needs of local communities in the future.

At the meeting the CCG will reflect on progress and achievements made in 2017/18 and will present its annual report and accounts. There will also be an opportunity for members of the public to ask the CCG’s Governing Body questions.

For more information on the Annual Public Meeting and to download a copy of the annual report and accounts (from 15 June 2018), please visit

If you would like to attend or to submit any questions, please contact Melody Price on 01670 335185 or email