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Mental Health Summary Report

In our Annual Survey 2020, mental health services was the second most chosen area where people thought we should focus our attention in the coming year. Mental health services had a high dissatisfaction rating – of those that use them 79 people said they were dissatisfied with mental health services (54%) – this was the only time more people said they were dissatisfied with a service than said they were satisfied with it. Respondents told us about a wide range of issues they had with mental health services.

People felt there could be more local mental health services
Respondents specifically mentioned Berwick Infirmary, where they felt there could be more mental health services. Respondents also called for more mental health services for autism in Hexham and Haltwhistle.

Responses from patients and staff alike highlighted a need for more resources to be put into mental health services
Patients told us there is a lack of mental health emergency beds and trained psychologists, and described Talking Matters Northumberland (TMN) as a stretched service. They also told us there is an increased demand for mental health services and that there needed to be more support for men at risk of suicide, as well as for young people. The Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), TMN, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust (CNTW) and Children and Young People’s Services (CYPS) were specifically mentioned by patients and staff alike as services that would benefit from more resources.

 

Healthwatch Northumberland Mental Health Services Report 2020

Annual Survey 2020 Report

Every year we run a survey asking about your NHS, health and care experiences from the previous year. By telling us about the care you received and what’s important to you, you help us set our work for the coming year so that we can be more effective on your behalf. This year we had 814 respondents to our annual survey. We conducted 31 events and heard from people face to face, online, and by post.

How satisfied were people with health and social care services?

Health care

Most people (75%) were satisfied with the health services they had used in the last year and most felt that the quality of health services had stayed the same (54%).

Social care

Most respondents had not used social care services in the last 12 months (75%). 15% of respondents were satisfied with social care services, and 12% of respondents thought social care services had stayed the same.

Access to services vs quality of care

73% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of care they had received, with 9% saying they were dissatisfied. Just over a quarter of respondents found it difficult to access services (26%), with 49% reporting they had found it easy to access services.

Read the report below.

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Survey 2020 Report

Download the New Covid-19 App

The new NHS COVID-19 app, now available to download for free in England and Wales, is the fastest way to see if you’re at risk from coronavirus. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community.

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy.

What the app does

Trace – get alerted if you’ve been near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Alert – let’s you know the level of coronavirus risk in your postcode area

Check-in – get alerted if you have visited a venue where you may have come into contact with coronavirus

Symptoms – check if you have coronavirus symptoms and see if you need to order a free test

Test – helps you book a test and get your result

Isolate – keep track of your self-isolation countdown and access relevant advice

 

More information on NHS Covid-19 App

Flu jabs for health and care workers

Health and care professionals are being encouraged to get their annual flu jab.

If you work in health or care this is the most effective way to protect yourself, your family and those you care for.

This is anything but a typical year and we all want to protect ourselves and those close to us. Due to the potential impact of influenza and Covid-19 it’s now more important than ever to protect ourselves from getting the flu.

The flu virus spreads from person-to-person, even amongst those not showing any symptoms. Frontline workers are at an increased risk of contracting flu and it’s very easy to pass the virus on without knowing. Even if you’re healthy, you can still get flu and spread it to the people you care for, your colleagues and to your family.

Getting your flu jab is simple, easy and free. All you need to do is ask your employer.

The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses so it cannot give you flu. The most common side effect can be a slight temperature or your arm may feel a bit sore where you had the injection. Other reactions are rare.

If you are not a health or care worker but would like to find out more about getting a flu jab visit the NHS website to check if you are eligible.

National Eye Health Week 2020

This week is National Eye Health Week (NEHW). It runs from 21 to 27 September, promoting the importance of good eye health and the need for regular eye tests for all.

David Cartwright, chair of Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for organising the National Eye Health Week (NEHW) campaign explains: “NEHW provides a unique opportunity for everyone involved in optics to join forces and inspire people to take positive steps to keep their eyes and vision healthy as well as preventing avoidable sight loss.

“Delays in people seeking treatment during lockdown and reduced capacity in optical practice mean it’s important that those with greatest need are prioritised. This year’s National Eye Health Week will seek to mobilise those that are experiencing problems with their vision or eye health and encourage them to seek help from their local eye care practitioner.”

Throughout the week watch out for advice about looking after your eyes and the 10 Best Eye Health Habits. These include: eating a healthy, balanced diet, not smoking, watching your weight and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV damage.

Each day of the week will feature a different theme. Themes for 2020 include: Ageing eyes, screen use and kids’ eye health.

Visit the Vision Matters website for top tips and resources to look after your eyes including a podcast, new online eye health calculator and vision simulator.

If you notice a change to your vision or have any concerns about your eye health contact your local optician.

Why not tell us about your local optician to help improve services. How was the service your received? Did you struggle to get seen during lockdown? Tell us your story here.

COVID-19: What people are telling us

Each month, thousands of people share their experiences about NHS and social care services with Healthwatches across the country. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this has ranged from the effect lockdown has had on carers, to the problems getting emergency dental treatment.

In Healthwatch England’s latest briefing they outline the issues over 19,700 people have raised, as well as taking an in-depth look at how technology has been used in response to the pandemic.

You can find a summary of the key points below or click the following link to read the full report:

Read the full report here

The impact of COVID-19

At the start of lockdown, people told us how the measures introduced to help control the spread of coronavirus were affecting their care.

Changes to routine and planned care – In many cases, people were unable to find the information they needed to understand what they should expect from services and were unclear about what the next steps for their treatment or care would be – leaving them feeling stressed and frustrated.

Shielding measures – Those who were shielding told us about problems in getting transport to their hospital care. For some people, the cost of attending one or more hospital appointments was too expensive to arrange private transport, especially if the hospital was far from home.

Access to prescription medicines – Initially people were struggling to get through to their GP or pharmacy by phone, and others experienced delays in getting their medication. This caused anxiety for people running out of supplies, particularly for those with long term conditions.

What can services learn?

  • People need clear, accurate and consistent information about their care and the services they use.
  • People’s experiences of hospital appointments do not start and end at the hospital doors – their journey begins at home, so transport arrangements must be considered.

Lockdown begins to ease

As lockdown restrictions began to reduce, we started to hear new concerns from people.

  • Worries about the future – People raised questions with us about how services can reopen safely, reported problems using services that are supposedly already open for business and expressed frustration at some NHS services being slow to reopen compared to other areas of the economy.
  • Testing for COVID-19 – While some people found visiting a testing centre easy, we also heard that the online booking process was difficult to use and there were concerns about the accessibility of testing centres.

What have people been telling us throughout?

  • Lack of accessible information – Throughout the pandemic, we have heard about the difficulties of finding up-to-date information in the languages or formats people need – especially when advice from the Government was frequently changing.
  • Emergency dental care – People did not know how to access emergency dental care – causing them extra stress while experiencing acute dental pain or other symptoms. Many others have felt they have no option but to go private if they want to receive treatment for what their dentist considered to be non-emergency treatment.
  • Access to B12 injections – Although some people received injections, either as normal or at a different GP practice, we also heard that in many areas there was an inconsistent approach to providing this treatment.
  • Care homes – People’s feedback highlighted that while family and friends were unable to visit their loved ones in care homes, timely and regular communication from care home staff really mattered.
  • The hidden effect on families and carers – The lack of respite has left many carers feeling stressed, isolated and forgotten about. We also heard about the difficulties some people faced helping the person that they care for to understand and remember the lockdown measures.
  • Praise for health and social care workers – Throughout the pandemic, we have heard about how much people appreciate the hard work of health and social care professionals during this time of unprecedented challenges.
  • The impact on people’s mental health – Since the start of lockdown, we have heard about the effects of the pandemic on people’s mental health and wellbeing. For some people, the changes to the services they would usually access have left them feeling abandoned – with infrequent telephone appointments not meeting their needs.

What can services learn?

  • Accessible information and meeting people’s communication needs must be considered from the start and should not be an afterthought. The information must also be shared through trusted sources, such as community centres and groups.
  • Families and carers have been providing even more care than usual during the pandemic – but this often goes unnoticed, and many need more support.
  • Good communications between care homes staff residents and their family and friends is key, especially while visiting restrictions are in place. Where appropriate, this should include involving residents’ families or next of kin in decision making about their care.
  • The mental health impacts of the pandemic are affecting both existing service users and non-service users. Mental health services will require investment to support people in both the short and long-term.

Digital healthcare

The pandemic has seen the digitisation of many health and social care services overnight. While digital appointments don’t work for everyone, and services should not be exclusively digital, it’s important healthcare services embrace technology for those who find it an efficient way to communicate. Our recent work in this area demonstrates how services are embracing this shift to digital healthcare:

The doctor will zoom you now

How the new NHS COVID-19 tracing app offers better data privacy

Read the full briefing to find out what we can learn from the rapid roll-out of virtual NHS consultations, and the importance of involving patients from the start when setting up new services.

 

If you would like to share your own experiences of health and social care services during the pandemic you can do so here:

Tell us your coronavirus story

Join Us! Engagement Officer Vacancy

We’re looking for an Engagement Officer to join the Healthwatch Northumberland team.

  • £23,685 (pro rata £19,204)
  • Part time – 30 hours a week
  • Permanent dependent on funding
  • Closing date midnight 29 September 2020
  • Based in Hexham with travel across Northumberland (note all staff currently working from home but under review in line with pandemic guidelines)

This is a vital time for health and social care services. By joining Healthwatch Northumberland now you will use your skills and experience to develop new ways to ensure that voice continues to be heard during and beyond the COVID19 pandemic.

The full job description, application form and other relevant information can be found below. If you would like an informal discussion about the role and Healthwatch Northumberland, contact Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator: derryn@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk

Interviews will be on Monday 12 October 2020 by Zoom.

Job Description and Person Specification

Healthwatch Northumberland Strategic Plan

Healthwatch Northumberland Staffing Structure

Application Form

NHS asks ‘do your bit’

Don’t just turn up to A&E – think pharmacy, 111 and GP first

Public asked to #doyourbit to protect the NHS by keeping A&E free for serious emergencies.

Health leaders across Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle and Gateshead are asking people to do their bit by thinking pharmacy, GP and 111 first, and not just to turn up to A&E.

The plea is the first part of a new ‘do your bit’ campaign aimed at raising awareness of the first routes people should take for urgent medical advice and treatment, following the disruption caused by Covid19.

Health chiefs say that due to social distancing and infection precautions, the space available in A&E to care for people and allow NHS staff to work safely has been reduced by 30-50 per cent. Action is needed now to protect patients and staff alike from now and into the future.

Bas Sen, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and Regional Clinical Advisor for the North East and Yorkshire said: “We want to make it easier and safer for patients to get the right advice or treatment when they urgently need it. We are now putting in place measures to support and guide the public to make the right healthcare choices. This will help ensure their safety, as well as making sure they get the right treatment in the most appropriate place.

“Specifically, if their need is not life threatening, we would advise patients to contact their local pharmacy, their GP or 111 online in the first instance.

“Advice will be provided based on individual issues and solutions will range from self-care through to an appointment with a GP, or being directed to go to a pharmacist or Urgent Treatment Centre.

“Those that do turn up to either an A&E department or an Urgent Treatment Centre, will be assessed clinically by a member of our team and if suitable, will be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs.”

The campaign is supporting a pilot scheme which commenced on 3 August by the NHS in the North Integrated Partnership (ICP) area (which covers Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland) before being rolled out across the region in September 2020.

Bas continued: “Too many people who come to A&E can be dealt with quicker by an alternative service such as their pharmacist, GP or 111. In light of COVID-19, and with winter ahead, it is more important than ever that we don’t have large volumes of people in our surgeries, clinics and hospitals when they could have been cared for elsewhere.”

“Because of the need to socially distance our hospitals have reduced space in waiting rooms and with around 50-70 per cent of attendances at A&E made up of patients who walk-in we must keep people safe – especially our most vulnerable and shielded patients.

“By thinking of alternative services such as pharmacist, GP and 111 first people can do their bit to help stop the spread of Coronavirus, keep people safe and keep A&E for real emergencies. At the same time this also means they will get the right treatment in a timely manner, in the most appropriate place for them too.

“So please don’t turn up or walk in to A&E or urgent care services without seeking advice from either a 111, GP or pharmacist, first – unless your condition is life threatening.

“Please remember that NHS 111 can make direct appointments at surgeries, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres. They can also send an ambulance should your condition be serious or life-threatening.”

In addition, we are asking people to act responsibly and consider carefully the impact drug use and alcohol has on people behaviours which can increase demands within A&E departments.

Clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, Professor Chris Gray, said: “The support for the NHS has been amazing over recent months and as winter approaches we will be asking people to keep this up and do their bit to protect the NHS and each other. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our health and care staff across the North East and North Cumbria. The last few months have been difficult and their commitment to delivering excellent quality care has never waived.”

Virtual NHS Consultations

recent survey for the British Medical Association showed that 95% of GPs are now offering remote consultations and 88% want to see greater use of them continue in the future.

Whilst people previously told us that they welcome the idea of the NHS making better use of new technology to help make care more convenient, people’s experiences of telephone, video, and email consultations to date have been more mixed.

For some, they are working well, and many previously sceptical individuals have been converted following a positive experience. For others, these types of appointments have introduced new barriers to care.

So how can we make sure that this revolution in the way care is delivered works for everyone?

What makes a virtual appointment good?

Last week Healthwatch England published the findings of some rapid research conducted in partnership with Traverse and National Voices. Involving people who have had a virtual consultation during the pandemic, this report provides useful insights for NHS services and individual clinicians.

Key findings and recommendations

Arranging a virtual consultation:

  • Feeling safe and comfortable – It’s important for people to feel safe, comfortable and that they have a confidential space in which to talk about their medical concerns. Most of those we spoke to hadn’t received any information in advance about how the appointment would work or what they could do to help. It would be useful for patients to be alerted to this fact beforehand so that they can prepare for their appointment.
  • Making the benefits known – Secondly, to realise the benefits of people not having to travel to appointments, patients need a reasonable time window for their appointment. Where people are not given this, it leads to increased frustration, with missed calls or unexpected delays creating anxiety.
  • Getting the format right
    Most of those we spoke to had telephone consultations, but a significant number felt that video would have been better.

We heard examples where people’s level of digital literacy had not been assessed before the appointment. There were also examples discussed where people felt remote consultations would never be appropriate, such as delivering bad news following a diagnosis.

During the appointment itself

Giving people the time they need

Whichever form of remote consultation is used, people were clear that it must not mean a compromise on the quality of the interaction. Appointments must not feel rushed, patients need to feel listened to and clinicians must have all the information they need to hand.

“I didn’t know what to expect. The physio created space to ask about how I was doing. I felt heard and was able to ask questions. It was refreshing. A normal physio session would be in a crowded room, five minutes instructions, you practice the movement, they pop back after seeing other people and ask you how you are getting on, it’s rushed. I see about 15-20 health professionals a year and this is the most person-centred session I have had.”

– Maria, physiotherapy patient.

Test, learn and improve

Seek feedback

As with any significant change it is important to seek feedback and to learn from what works and what needs improvement. Yet most participants in our research reported that they weren’t asked for feedback about their remote consultation experience.When we asked them for suggestions, they identified many ways in which remote consultations could be made better. For example, enabling sessions to be recorded and played back later so people can confirm they have understood, or introducing closed captioning to help those with hearing loss.

Overall, one of the biggest learning points was around quality. While some people in the health and care system may see remote consultations as a way of delivering care more efficiently, it is clear that any impact on quality will likely see a significant drop-off in people willing to access care in this way.

Getting the most out of the virtual health and care experience

Our Strategic Plan for 2020-2022

The plan below sets out our plans for the next three years, as identified by the Healthwatch Northumberland Board.

We have three strategic aims which are the themes for our work over the lifetime of the strategy. Our work each year will be identified as meeting one or more of the aims.

Health: with the help of Healthwatch Northumberland, the views, knowledge and experiences of health service users and carers are listened to and influence changes and developments in health service in Northumberland.

Social Care: With the help of Healthwatch Northumberland, the views, knowledge and experiences of service users and carers are listened to and influence changes and developments in social care services in Northumberland.

Communication and Engagement: the people, service providers, commissioners and key stakeholders in Northumberland know, trust and are involved with Healthwatch Northumberland.

 

Read our Strategic Plan for 2020-2022

Events

Diabetes UK – Let’s Talk About Feet webinar

Join the Diabetes UK North of England team for a free webinar full of practical advice around good foot care for people living with diabetes. Checking your feet at home is so important, now more than ever, and this webinar will show you how to.

There will be talks from podiatrists Donna Welch and Colette Jones, and Diabetes UK volunteer Andy Lavender, who will share his foot care experiences.

To register visit: https://footcare.eventbrite.co.uk. Email: evie.kinghorn@diabetes.org.uk if you have any queries.

Our Review of the Year and AGM

Our Review of the year and AGM will take place online on Wednesday 21 October, from 2.00pm and 4.00pm. Find out about our work and how we made a difference to people in Northumberland over the last 12 months.

As the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care says ‘People should have phone or video consultations with their doctors unless there is a clinical reason not to’, and that there had been a ‘hugely positive’ response to virtual appointments during the coronavirus pandemic, we will also have guest presenters talking about technology in NHS and social care services. We’ll explore how the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the move to online appointments and consultations, what has worked well and not so well, and what we can expect in the future.

You can ask a question in advance or at the Q&A session in our webinar.

Register for the Healthwatch Northumberland Review of the Year

Diabetes and Moving More

The North of England Diabetes UK team presents a webinar for people living with diabetes or those at risk of diabetes, taking an informal and relaxed look at the basics of getting more active. You will hear from Neil Gibson (Physical Activity Insight Advisor at Diabetes UK) and George West (Diabetes UK volunteer living with type 1 diabetes).

This webinar is free and registration is simple.  If you have any queries, Email evie.kinghorn@diabetes.org.uk

Registration

www.diabetes.org.uk

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.

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Children and Young People’s Services

Are you a voluntary or community organisation working with young people? If so, we’d like you to join us for an open discussion on children and young peoples services, particularly around mental health services.

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.

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Cancer services: Join our online forum

If you, or someone close to you, have used cancer services in the last 12 months, we’d love to hear about your experiences at our online forum.

Lead Cancer Nurse, Amanda, from Northumbria Healthcare, and Jo from the Northern Cancer Alliance will be there to answer your questions.

You can join us as a cancer patient or carer or as someone who works with people using cancer services, or just if you have an interest in local services and support.

For those who aren’t able or would rather not attend, questions for Amanda, Jo, or Healthwatch Northumberland can be sent via text to: 07413 385275 anytime before 12 August.

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.

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Laburnum Surgery closure – online forum

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has made the decision to close Laburnum GP Surgery in Ashington.

The CCG’s primary care commissioning committee made the decision, last week, to end the contract of Laburnum Medical Group following inspections carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and ongoing investigations carried out by the CCG, which identified issues with the quality of care provided.

The practice, which provides healthcare for 2400 patients from Ashington and the surrounding areas, including Wansbeck, Morpeth, Newbiggin and Bedlington, will close by the end of July.

Patients at the practice have been written to and allocated another GP at a nearby surgery.

We are holding an online forum for patients to discuss any concerns they have about the closure of the surgery and their ongoing healthcare.

To register please email: laurak@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call: 03332 408468.

The forums will take place via Zoom. Read our guide on how to use Zoom. If you would like help setting up Zoom on your device please ask.

 

Read more about the closure of Laburnum Surgery

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Share your experiences – join our online forum

As we will be unable to get out and about across the county to meet with and listen to people for a while, we’re holding some public online forums, and we’d like you to join us. If you are unable to take part but would like to tell us about your experiences of these services, Caroline and Lesley will be available by phone, text and email each Wednesday between 3.00pm and 4.00pm to listen, answer any questions and help with providing information about services.

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

Whilst some of our forums are on specific issues and services, this one is a chance to tell us about any health or social care service you’ve used in the last 12 months. That could be hospitals, GPs, care homes, NHS 111, mental health services, maternity services or dentists and pharmacies.

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

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Mental Health services: Join our online forum

As we will be unable to get out and about across the county to meet with and listen to people for a while, we’re holding some public online forums, and we’d like you to join us. If you are unable to take part but would like to tell us about your experiences of these services, Caroline and Lesley will be available by phone, text and email each Wednesday between 3.00pm and 4.00pm to listen, answer any questions and help with providing information about services.

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

The subject of this online forum is mental health services, so if you’d like to share your experiences of services in the last 12 months, or those of someone close to you, please join us.

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

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Unpaid Carers and Mental Health Online Forum

As we will be unable to get out and about across the county to meet with and listen to people for a while, we’re holding some public online forums, and we’d like you to join us. If you are unable to take part but would like to tell us about your experiences of these services, Caroline and Lesley will be available by phone, text and email each Wednesday between 3.00pm and 4.00pm to listen, answer any questions and help with providing information about services.

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

The subject of this online forum is unpaid carers and mental health services, so if you’d like to share your experiences of services in the last 12 months, or those of someone close to you, please join us.

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

 

Find out about our other online forums