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Vaccination Centre sign

Vaccination Centre for Hexham

A seventh large vaccination centre for the region will open at Hexham Mart on Thursday 13 May 2021.

Take-up of the Covid-19 vaccine has been exceptionally strong – 19 out of 20 people aged 50 and over have already chosen to take up the offer, and the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds coming forward has more than tripled over the last two months.

Now the programme has moved to Priority Group 10, the NHS is asking those aged 40 and over to come forward for their vaccine.

The seventh large vaccination centre for the region in Hexham joins the six large vaccination centres which are at Newcastle’s Centre for Life, the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East, Sunderland, the Arnison Centre, Durham, Darlington Arena, The Riverside Stadium at Middlesbrough and the Auction Mart at Penrith.

These large centres operate in conjunction with local vaccination services run by groups of GPs working together in Primary Care Networks PCNs) and services offered by some community pharmacies.

The Hexham vaccination centre will be called ‘Hexham Mart Vaccination Centre’ and is based at Hexham Mart, Tyne Green, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 3SG.  People are invited to attend large vaccination centres and community pharmacy locations by the National Booking Service which is run by NHS England. Patients are being asked not to contact their GP.

The staffing and volunteers for the centre are in place, ready to see up to 800 people a day, vaccine supply permitting.

The decision to open a large new vaccination centre in Hexham was made in conjunction with local NHS partners so that the West Northumberland PCN, which has delivered over 60,000 vaccinations so far, could return to providing core GP services for local patients including those whose needs may not have been met so far during the pandemic.

West Northumberland PCN will continue to deliver vaccinations for their most vulnerable patients in Priority Groups 1-9, including over 27,000 second doses still to be given to those patients.

The Hexham Mart Vaccination Centre will provide a local option for residents of West Northumberland eligible for a first dose (those aged 18-49 years) alongside several community pharmacy sites which will be available to book via the National Booking Service.

Eligible people receive a letter or text message and are invited to book either online or by calling 119 free of charge between 7am and 11pm – only people invited to book can do so.

There are currently five community pharmacy sites across Northumberland with more sites being added to the National Booking Service across the region so people in Northumberland can access different locations.

The National Booking Service will now show appointments for Hexham Mart and community pharmacies, but not for appointments that are offered by existing vaccination services run by GPs in primary care networks.

NHS Northumberland CCG has also commissioned a Roving Vaccination Service which will continue to target patients across the county’s most rural and isolated communities. This range of services will help to ensure that anybody who wants to receive a vaccine can do so and that nobody is left behind by the programme.

While vaccine supply can be ‘bumpy’, people should not be worried. There is enough vaccine supply to make sure that everyone who wants to have a vaccination can do so.

Professor Neil Watson, Chief Operating Officer for the NHS Covid Vaccination Programme for the North East and North Cumbria, said “The NHS continues to deliver, with over 2.2 million vaccines having been given in our region alone, which is a phenomenal amount and something to be very proud of.”

I’d like to thank our fantastic teams who remain focussed on delivering excellent care and our patients who keep coming forward in large numbers to make sure they are vaccinated and protected from this awful virus.”

This seventh large vaccination centre for the region allows us to carry on this great work with the over 40-year-old age group, so we can get back to a sense of normality as quickly as we can.”

Rachel Mitcheson, Service Director Transformation and Integrated Care, NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group said “West Northumberland Primary Care Network has done a phenomenal job and we thank everyone who has been involved in this exceptional effort.”

“It’s right that primary care in the west of the county focus on recovery of local primary care health services impacted as a result of the pandemic, including continuing to deliver second doses to priority groups 1-9.”

Latest Covid-19 Information

Care home visit

Care home visits: public forum

At our previous forums we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about other ways people have been keeping in touch during Covid-19 and experiences of the changes to allow one or two designated visitors for in-person visits. We have also heard from representatives at Public Health and Northumberland County Council on the visiting guidance for care homes.

At our next forum on Friday 4 June at 10.30am we’d like to hear about your experiences now we are two months into the changes in visiting policy. We would also like to hear your feedback on preparing for you and your loved ones to have visits outside of the care home.

We will also be sharing the results of our recent online surveys for care home staff and relatives/friends of those living in care homes and looking at the next steps for this feedback moving forward.

If you would like to register for the event please contact Helen Brown at: helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

If you cannot come along but have a question you would like an answer to, send it to us and we will ask it for you.

More on care home visiting guidance

Roving Vaccination Service

Covid-19 vaccination pop-up pilot launched in Northumberland

People in Northumberland are soon to benefit from new pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinics.

As part of its commitment to reducing health inequalities in the county, NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been working with the Cramlington Seaton Valley Primary Care Network (PCN) to set up a Roving Vaccination Service. This will see vaccines safely transported to people in the most rural parts of Northumberland as well as minority groups including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, those affected by homelessness and residents from a BAME background.

A transit van has been specifically modified and customised to help ensure that residents in remote communities and hard to reach groups are not left behind in the vaccination programme.

Already more than 200,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered to Northumberland residents and, thanks to the CCG’s partnership working with the PCN and Northumberland Fire and Rescue, another 100 received their first dose of the vaccine at the pop-up clinic at Bellingham Fire Station in Hexham on Thursday 15 April.

The vaccination team will be led by a team of healthcare staff from the Village Surgery in Cramlington, which includes a community paramedic, two practice nurses and a healthcare assistant. They will be supported by an admin team from the same practice, who will provide a vital support service to this clinic as they have done so far within the local vaccine sites.

Vaccinating from the pop-up clinic is Paula Jamieson, senior practice nurse from the Village Surgery in Cramlington. Paula said, “This new service provides people who live out in our most rural communities in Northumberland, who may find it difficult to travel to a large vaccination centre or their more local vaccination site, more choice as to where they can get vaccinated.

“Northumberland has a really unique geography with a diverse and disparate population and we’ve worked in collaboration with lots of different organisations to find the best and most practicable solutions to roll out Covid-19 vaccines. Piloting our pop-up vaccination service demonstrates this and also shows our commitment to ensuring as many people in Northumberland as possible are protected from Covid-19.”

Richard Hay, Head of Planning and Operations at the CCG said, “We have never seen a vaccination programme on this scale before and our teams in primary care have been working flat out to get the vaccine into as many people’s arms as possible whilst following the national roll-out guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) and have done a phenomenal job so far.

“We understand the uniqueness of Northumberland and we’ve had to overcome some big challenges with this roll-out. For example, the distance people have been expected to travel to attend a large vaccination centre.

“The introduction of the Roving Vaccination Service will make sure no-one is left behind. It’s a fantastic example of our local GPs working in collaboration across the county to deliver innovative services for the benefit of residents.”

Residents are being reminded not to contact their GP practice to seek a vaccination appointment from their practice or the Roving Vaccination Service. Practices will contact people when it is the right time – no one will be missed. People are also being reminded not to turn up too early for their appointments.

Find out more about the Covid-19 vaccination programme here

Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

In response to some of the questions people in Northumberland have raised about the Covid-19 vaccination programme, NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has put together a series of short videos. These will hopefully address some of the common concerns we have been hearing about the vaccination programme.

The CCG is responsible for the planning and buying of local NHS services for people in Northumberland.

In the videos, Richard Hay, Head of Planning and Operations at Northumberland CCG talks about how the Covid-19 vaccination programme is going in the county, addresses concerns over supply and safety of the vaccine, and how people will be contacted with an appointment for to get theirs.

 

One minute videos:

Why am I being offered an appointment for my vaccination so far away?

Should we be worried about the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine in Northumberland?

Why isn’t there a large vaccination centre in Northumberland?

Are people in Northumberland having to wait longer for their Covid-19 vaccination than people in other parts of the country?

Is the Covid-19 vaccination safe?

Why am I being told not to contact my GP about my vaccination appointment?

If I’ve had my Covid-19 vaccine, why can’t I mix with other people?

 

Podcast: How the vaccination programme is going in Northumberland, with Richard Hay of Northumberland CCG.

 

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

care home visits Northumberland

Visits out of care homes

The latest guidance on care home visiting applies from 12 April. On visits out of care homes the government says:

Spending time out of the care home has always been an important part of life for many people living in residential care. This might include visits with friends and family to outdoor spaces and leisure venues, or to celebrate special occasions.

For some residents, regular visits may be part of their care plan – accessing care and support in day services, participating in community groups and volunteering. For many residents of working age, this might include regular overnight visits to the family home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that much of this visiting out of the care home has had to stop.

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown – guided by the data – we want to enable care home residents to enjoy a range of trips out of the care home, wherever it is safe and proportionate to do so.

We recognise how important this is for residents’ health and wellbeing, their ability to remain at the heart of family and social networks; and in some cases to deliver the objectives of their care plan.

However, spending time with others outside the care home will increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for the resident and potentially to other vulnerable residents on their return. This is the case even as we see community infection rates dropping and vaccine coverage increasing.

Whereas it is possible to mitigate and manage infection risks within the controlled environment of the care home – including by testing anyone coming into the home – it is simply not possible to control the environment outside of the care home in the same way.

This means that there is still the need for some measures to manage the risk of residents returning from visits bringing infection into the care home environment.

This guidance sets out the approach that care homes should take to planning and supporting visits out of the home where residents wish to make them. It explains the measures that should be taken – by the home, the resident and others taking part in the visit – to manage the risks.

The most significant of these is the requirement that a resident making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return (the day of return is day zero). This is to ensure that – in the event they have unknowingly become infected while out of the home – they minimise the chances of passing that infection on to other residents and staff.

We recognise that in practice, this is likely to mean that many residents will not wish to make a visit out of the home.

Read the full guidance on visits out of care homes

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

Covid-19 Vaccinations: April 2021

Covid-19 Vaccinations Northumberland

As we head into April, priority for vaccinations in Northumberland is being given to those who are due their second dose, with any extra available vaccinations going to those in priority groups 1 – 9 who are yet to have a first dose. People in groups 1 – 9 will continue to be invited for their vaccination in age order.

If you are due a second dose in the next few weeks and haven’t yet got an appointment, look out for a text message and keep an ear out for the telephone as you will be contacted soon.

Please don’t call your GP practice to ask when you will get an invitation to be vaccinated. Vaccination centres and GP practices have no control over supplies coming into the county and so are unable to tell patients when they might be invited to make an appointment. Your surgery still want to hear from you if you have an urgent medical issue.

Noone will be forgotten and everyone who would like a vaccination will be offered one over the coming weeks and months.

Government information on the Covid-19 vaccination programme

Covid-19 information for Northumberland

Care Home Visits: Public Forum

At our online forums recently we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about people’s experiences of other ways of keeping in touch during Covid-19. From 8 March those who live in care homes will be able to receive one regular designated visitor.  We want to hear from you about your experience of this change, and what would help as restrictions are gradually eased.

We are holding another online forum on 31 March from 2.00 – 3.30pm where Dr Jim Brown, Consultant in Public Health at Northumberland County Council and Alan Curry, Senior Manager – Commissioning Northumberland County Council, will be there to answer your questions on the visiting guidance for care homes from a public health and county council perspective and what we may expect for care home visits in Northumberland as we move on from Covid-19.

If you would like to register for a space please contact helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

If you cannot come along but have a question you would like an answer to, send it to us and we will ask it for you.

You can also tell us about how you’ve kept in touch with relatives in care homes here

 

 

More on care home visits guidance as of 8 March

Covid-19 vaccinations – the next phase

The Covid-19 vaccination programme in Northumberland, led by Primary Care Networks of GP practices has been successful in offering a vaccine to those in priority groups 1 to 4 – those aged 70 and over – by 15 February 2021. Thank you to those who have had their vaccine and who are helping to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities. If you are over 70 and haven’t had your first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine yet, please contact your GP straight away or make an appointment here, or by phoning 119.

The next phase of the programme is to vaccinate those in priority groups 5 to 9 (everybody over 50 years of age) and the target date for this is 15 April 2021. This phase will also include delivering second doses of the vaccine to those already vaccinated in January and February.

If you are in group 5 (over 65 years) or group 6 (those aged between 16 and 64 who have underlying health conditions) you will be invited by your GP practice to have the vaccine at one of ten hubs across the county or you may receive a letter inviting you to make an appointment at the Centre for Life in Newcastle. If travelling to Newcastle is inconvenient for you, you can ignore the letter and choose to wait to hear from your GP about having the vaccination at a hub closer to where you live.

Read more about the NHS in Northumberland’s reassurance that people can choose to have their vaccine at a hub closer to home.

You don’t need to call your practice; you won’t be forgotten and will be contacted when it’s your turn – look out for a letter, listen for the phone and check for text messages, as you could be contacted in any one of these ways.

GP practices will be calling people on the basis of:

  • Age – this is by far the most significant factor in determining an individual’s level of risk of complications or serious illness as a result of Covid-19 infection
  • Comorbidity – individuals with a number of underlying health conditions have an increased level of risk from Covid-19
  • Ethnicity – individuals from a BAME background are more at risk from Covid-19

You can be prepared ahead of your vaccination appointment by thinking about how you might travel to the centre, make sure you arrive on time and take your NHS number with you if possible – this can be found on letters from your GP or hospital or your prescription.

Visit our Coronavirus Information Page for more on the pandemic.

Public concerns about dentistry continue

New data gathered by Healthwatch England shows access to NHS dentistry remains a huge problem for the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthwatch continues to hear concerns about dentistry which were highlighted at the end of last year in the Dentistry and the impact of COVID-19 report after a 452% rise in calls and complaints over the summer (July – September).
In a follow-up review, Healthwatch looked at 1,129 people’s experiences of accessing dental care received between October and December 2020 and found:
  • Access to dentistry was difficult for more than seven in 10 people (72%), with some people actively seeking dental treatment being told they would have to wait anywhere between a few months to, in one case, two years for an appointment.
  • Access to urgent NHS treatment was difficult for people with painful teeth, with patients being told that dental pain was not considered an “emergency”, and for those who were prescribed multiple courses of antibiotics by NHS 111 without being provided any further treatment.
  • Examples of the extreme lengths some people went to, to get treatment, include calling over 40 practices to find an NHS dentist, and pulling their own teeth out when they couldn’t bear the pain.
  • When dentists couldn’t offer an appointment, they advised people to buy dental repair kits to treat themselves.

The findings come after some MPs and the British Dental Association called on the Government to scrap its new targets for NHS dentists, which require them to deliver 45% of their pre-pandemic levels of dental activity.

There are concerns this is likely to push practices into prioritising appointments such as check-ups over emergency or more complex longer treatments.

Healthwatch’s findings also suggest that patients are being told that although NHS appointments are not available, they can be treated privately. This creates a real barrier for everyone, and in particular for people on low income, to receive vital treatment.

Tell us about your experience of dental care during the pandemic here or text 07413 385275 and one of our friendly team will call you back.

Events

Care home visit

Care home visiting Northumberland

At our previous online forums we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about other ways people have been keeping in touch during Covid-19 and experiences of the changes to allow one or two designated visitors for in-person visits. We have also heard from representatives at Public Health and Northumberland County Council on the visiting guidance for care homes.

At our next forum on Friday 4 June at 10.30am we would like to hear from you about your experiences of visiting your loved ones in care homes now we are almost two months into the changes in visiting policy. We would also like to hear your experiences of the other ways you have been keeping in touch and any feedback you have on preparing for you and your loved ones to have visits outside of the care home.

We will also be sharing the results of our recent online surveys for care home staff and relatives/friends of those living in care homes and looking at the next steps for this feedback moving forward.

If you would like to register for the event please email Helen Brown at: helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

Government guidance on care home visits

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

Public Coronavirus Question Time

Health and council leaders in Northumberland are to host their first ever online coronavirus public question time.
While case numbers have steadied, they’re still too high in the county, and following the recent introduction of a national lockdownleaders will be answering residents’ questions on Wednesday 18 November, at 5pm.
The panel for Wednesday’s broadcast will include:
  • Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader of the Council
  • Liz Morgan , Director of Public Health
  • Daljit Lally, Chief Executive
The broadcast, the first of its kind in the region, will look at the current Covid-19 picture in Northumberland, what the national lockdown means for the county, and answer queries or concerns people have.
People can submit their questions to the council via a simple online form 
While council and health bosses might not be able to answer every question, the aim is for the public broadcast to become a regular event and cover the most commonly-asked issues.
Residents will be able to watch the broadcast live on the council’s Facebook page 
Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “We know the impact this pandemic has had on all our lives and the hard work everyone has put in to stay safe and drive numbers down.
“People have already made huge sacrifices, and many feel exhausted by the strain that it has caused. We have a duty to support our communities to continue all their hard work to get infections under control, and we’re in a good position to build on that.
“The situation is changing almost daily so this is a great opportunity to find out the very latest information from a number of experts, as well as hearing about some of the questions that affect you and your communities – whether you work in, live in or visit our county.
We know this public question time approach has been well-received in other parts of the country and we’d really encourage people to let us know questions they might have which we can address during our first broadcast.”

Care Homes – keeping in touch with loved ones

People are telling us they are worried about care homes continuing to be closed to nearly all visits.

They understand it is safer for residents and staff and the extra efforts made to maintain the quality of life in the homes.   But after 6 months, people say they can see the effect on their loved ones, and their own, health and wellbeing.

It seems the situation may go on for some time yet.

Sharing good practice could help make this difficult time a bit better.   If your relative, loved one or friend lives in a care home we would like to know what is being done to keep you in touch day to day and on special occasions like birthdays.

We would like to know your experience of:

  • Using video calls (FaceTime, Zoom etc) or telephone calls. Does the home support these?  How many times a week and how long?  Does a member of staff help your loved one with the call?
  • Socially distanced visits. Does the home support ‘window’ visits.  How many times a week and how long?
  • How does the home keep you informed about how your loved one is getting on (apart from necessary issues about their care or health). Eg manager updates, photographs, videos
  • Does the home have a programme of group and 1 to 1 activities? Has your loved one taken part?
  • Has the home asked you what, within the current restrictions, would make this time easier?
  • What, within the current restrictions, would make it better for you and your love one?
  • When restrictions are eventually eased (not totally lifted) what would help you and your loved one?

The forums will take place via Zoom. Read our guide on how to use Zoom.

If you would like to take part please contact Laura Kane: laurak@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk, or call 03332 408468.

If you can’t make the forum and would like to tell us your story, or would rather speak to one of our team in confidence please get in touch.