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.

Shout text service how it works graphics

Shout: New Text Service Launched

Shout: 85258

A new text service has been launched today which supports people who need advice in a difficult moment. Shout is the UK’s first free 24 hour text service for anyone in crisis.  It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.

Trained volunteers provide help when it is most needed to take people from crisis to calm and to then finder longer term support.

As this is a text service, it is both private and silent, meaning it can be used at any time, anywhere – at home, at school, on the bus.

This new service was launched by the Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex as a legacy of the Heads Together Foundation.

Watch what he has to say here.


You can find more mental health information and our mental health webpage


Watering can and daffodils

Stepping into Spring Roadshows

Stepping into Spring is a series of roadshows from Ageing Well in Northumberland. These are free events for older people in Northumberland and are a chance to talk to 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.


The Roadshows are happening at the following locations:

  • Ponteland, Merton Hall: Thursday 21 March, 9.00am – 12.00pm
  • Prudhoe, Waterworld: Monday 25 March, 10.00am – 1.00pm
  • Haltwhistle, Methodist Hall: Tuesday 2 April, 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Hexham, Wentworth Leisure Centre: Friday 12 April, 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Morpeth, Town Hall: Wednesday 1 May, 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Blyth, Leisure Centre: tbc
  • Ashington, Leisure Centre: tbc


For more details about individual events please visit our events page




What Would You Do logo with young woman image

NHS Long Term Plan – What Would You Do?

Watch Project Coordinator Derry talking to Hexhamtv about the NHS Long Term Plan and how you can get involved.


With growing pressure on the NHS – people living longer, more people living with long-term conditions, and lifestyle choices affecting people’s health – changes are needed to make sure everybody gets the support they need.

The government is investing an extra £20 billion a year in the NHS. The NHS has produced a Long Term Plan, setting out all the things it wants health services to do better for people across the country. Now the NHS needs to hear from you about what those changes should look like in your community.

The Long Term Plan sets out what the NHS wants to do better, including making it easier for people to access support closer to home and via technology, doing more to help people stay well, and providing better support for people with cancer, mental health conditions, heart and lung diseases, long-term conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis, learning disabilities and autism, and for people as they get older and experience conditions such as dementia.


We’d like to hear from you so that we can tell the NHS what you think.

What would you do to give people more control of their care?


  • How would you help people live healthier lives?
  • What would make health services better?
  • How would you make it easier for people to take control of their own health and wellbeing?
  • What would you do to make support better for people with long-term conditions?

You can tell us what you think here.

Easy Read Version

BSL Version

What would you do to give people better support?


Your local NHS needs to hear from you about how it can provide better care for people living with conditions such as cancer, mental health conditions heart and lung diseases, diabetes, arthritis, learning disabilities, autism, and dementia.

You can tell us your thoughts here.

Find out more about how Healthwatch is helping people get involved in the NHS Long Term Plan here.


Young Woman in a street

Where to go for support when you have an eating disorder

This Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Healthwatch looked at what young people have told us about their experiences, and where to go for support if you need help.

According to Beat Eating Disorders there are an estimated 1.25 million people in the UK with an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that anyone can develop, no matter their age, gender or background.

In Northamptonshire, Healthwatch surveyed over 2,000 young people aged 9-24 to find out more about their knowledge and experience of eating disorders.

Through their work, they found that:

  • Just under 80% knew what an eating disorder was
  • Over half didn’t know where to go for support
  • 39% didn’t know about any specific services for children and young people
“It was a struggle and it is a constant struggle; you do not know who to turn to get help for your child and there are not enough people who know enough about eating disorders.”
— Parent talking to Healthwatch Northamptonshire

Where to go for support

  • Visit your GP
    If you think that you have an eating disorder you should visit your local GP. They will ask you about your eating habits and lifestyle. If they think that you might have an eating disorder they will refer you to a specialist.
  • Talk to a friend or family member
    It can be very hard to admit you have a problem and ask for help. Start by talking to a friend or family member. You could even bring them with you to your appointment to make you feel more comfortable.
  • Talk to an advisor 
    Beat – The UK’s Eating Disorder Charity – has advisors who can talk to you about the different types of eating disorders, and provide information about recovery and the support available to you. Take a look at their website or contact them using the details below:

Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677

Youthline: 0808 801 0711

What should services do to help?

  • Provide quicker access to support. According to the Care Quality Commission, 27% of people with an eating disorder wait 11 weeks or more to get the right support.
  • Raise awareness of eating disorders and make information about local treatment and support easy to access.
  • Offer more information about support groups to help people support a friend or sibling struggling with an eating disorder.
Carers Northumberland logo

Carers Support Groups

Carers Northumberland holds monthly groups for carers across the county. Carers are welcome at any of the groups, at any time and the sessions aim to offer support and information. For more details call Carers Northumberland on: 01670 320025 or email:

Ponteland: Merton Hall, first Thursday of the month, 10.30am

Ashington: Age UK Northumberland, third Tuesday of the month, 10.30am

Amble: Dry Water Arts Centre, first Tuesday of the month, 10.30am

Felton: Village Hall, first Thursday of the month, 1.30pm

Morpeth: Northumberland County Blind Association, second Wednesday of the month, 10.30am

Bedlington: Salvation Army building, third Wednesday of the month, 1.00pm

Blyth: Buffalo Community Centre, third Thursday of the month, 10.00am

Alnwick: St Paul’s Court, fourth Monday of the month, 1.30pm

Berwick: Community Trust, fourth Wednesday of the month, 11.00am

Hexham: Adapt (NE), fourth Wednesday of the month, 1.30pm

Cramlington: Concordia Leisure Centre, fourth Thursday of the month, 1.00pm

a woman answers questions from another woman with a clipboard outside a hospital

Annual Survey 2019 – Share your Experiences

We would really like to hear about your experiences of health and social care services in Northumberland over the last year, through our annual survey. You can share your thoughts and experiences as a patient or as a carer. Your feedback will help us set our work priorities for the coming year. Knowing what is important to you helps us to work more effectively on your behalf. We can also look at trends and themes year on year, seeing what has changed and what remains important to people.

You could also be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes when you take the time to tell us about your experiences.

We realise there are a lot of surveys out there from organisations asking for your feedback, but this really does help us to find out what matters to people.

Please help us ensure that the health and social care needs of the people of Northumberland are heard, understood and met by those responsible for commissioning and delivering services.

Thank you for your support.

Complete the Annual Survey 2019

Countryside view in Coquetdale

Carers Wanted for Focus Group

Carers in Coquetdale are being asked to take part in a focus group as part of a postgraduate study research project. The study aims to look at health and social care through your eyes as a carer and to have your views fed (anonymously) to the council, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust and Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).


What would that involve?

You will take part in a focus group of six to eight carers, lasting 60 to 90 minutes.  In the focus group you will be asked to discuss topics put forward by the researcher and to suggest questions that you would like the researcher to ask the council, the trust and the CCG.

The focus group will take place in The Cheviot Room, Jubilee Hall, on Tuesday 12 March at 2.00pm.

You will then be invited to a second focus group, again lasting 60 to 90 minutes, to hear what the council, NHS trust and the CCG have to say and to share what has changed for you and the person you care for.  Everyone’s anonymity will be protected.


Who is doing this study? 

This research is being undertaken by Rita Stringfellow, postgraduate student in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Northumbria University, who is also a carer.

If you would like to take part please email: or call: 07968157741.


Hospital reception area

Transport Implications for health services in Coquetdale

As part of the 2016 proposal to close the inpatient beds at the Rothbury Community Hospital, Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group produced a Travel Impact Report. An updated report was presented to the Rothbury Hospital Review Group in January 2019.

This report, and any examination of public transport timetables in Coquetdale, immediately demonstrates two key facts: for many people in the upper dale there is little or no public transport and the only towns directly accessible from Coquetdale are Alnwick, Morpeth and Newcastle.

Healthwatch Northumberland would add that such a study should also consider the reality of using services as well as their availability and we have looked in more detail at the most likely journeys to be taken. We also consider the issue of public transport provision in the future in the face of likely reductions in funding for concessionary and non-commercial services.
We consider some of the issues of using private cars, for example, the percentage of individuals of different ages that hold driving licences and the assumptions about car usage at different income levels.

You can read our report here.


Wild daisies

Northumberland Cancer Support Group 2019

Northumberland Cancer Support Group is a volunteer run self-help organisation which helps anyone affected by cancer. the group meets on the first and fourth Tuesday of each month in Hexham. The programme of events for this year can be found below, or visit the website for more details.

First Tuesday of the month (7.00pm, Education Centre, Hexham Hospital)

5 March: Professor John McCabe “Japan Behind the Fan”

2 April: Tom MuCullough “Medication Made Easy”

4 June: David Belcher “Cancer … What’s it all about?”

2 July: Fenwick Mark Ridley “Wild Swimming”

6 August: Pauline Walks “Past, Present and Future of The Theatre Royal”

3 September: Nicola Cunningham “Nutrition and Cancer”

1 October: Sam Jones “Relaxation and the Nervous System”

5 November: Helene Dolder “Laughter is the Best Medicine”

3 December: Christmas Makes


Fourth Tuesday of the month (1.00pm, Trinity Methodist Church Hall, Hexham)

22 January: Fenwick Mark Ridley “Wild Swimming”

27 February: Liz Weir “How Complementary Therapies Helped Me”

26 March: “Lorraine Henderson “Ageing Well”

23 April: “Tracy Pringle “Laughter and Chakra for Wellbeing”

24 September: Janette Frank “PALS”

26 November: Sparkle Afternoon



Summer flowers

Ageing Well Summer Roadshow

This summer roadshow is a great way to find out more about staying active, staying involved and staying well. You can also find out about local activities and volunteering opportunities near you.

For more information contact Karen Cox on: 01670 858688 or email:

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

Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland logo

Sexual Violence & Older Women Project Launch


Research carried out by Dr Hannah Bows, Centre for Research into Violence & Abuse at Durham University, identified that:

  • Few older people contact specialist sexual services after experiencing rape or sexual assault.
  • Older women face specific barriers and challenges which make it difficult to access support, this includes a lack of awareness of services and confusion around who can help them.
  • Older women face myths and stereotypes about them and their experiences of sexual violence which impact on their recovery.

Rape Crisis Tyneside & Northumberland has been successful in securing funding to help tackle the barriers older women face and reach out to more survivors.

This event will celebrate the launch of the project, find out more about this subject and be a chance to meet the new Community Engagement Worker for Older Women, Margie Cooper.

The event will feature a presentation and discussion:

Sexual Violence & Older People

Led by: Dr Hannah Bows

Hannah is an Assistant Professor in Criminal Law, Director of Equality and Diversity within Durham Law School and is Deputy Director of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA).

Book your place here


Blyth Beach Huts

Recovery Walk

Northumberland Recovery Partnership is holding a recovery walk on Friday 17 May, from Blyth to Seaton Sluice.

9.00am is the welcome and filling out of health questionnaires at The Recovery Centre, 7 Sextant House, Blyth NE24 2BA. The walk will begin at 9.30 – walking to Seaton Sluice and back again – with a short break half way. A healthy lunch will then be provided back at The Recovery Centre, followed by meditation and the chance to have some basic health checks with a health trainer.

For more details please email:

People chatting at a community event

Community Information Morning – Hexham

The next Community Information Morning from Adapt (NE) will take place on Tuesday 14 May, between 10.30am and 12.30pm in the Resource Room (next to Cafe at Burn Lane). Come along and talk to local organisations with advice and support about health, wellbeing and more. For more information call: 01434 600599. Confirmed to attend this month are Age UK Northumberland, Alzheimers Society, Northumberland Community Development Company and Talking Matters, along with members of the HWN team.

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.

Ageing Well in Northumberland

Ageing Well Conference 2019

The Ageing Well Conference is a celebration of a year in the life of Ageing Well in Northumberland. There will be lots of interactive workshops for you to get involved with, a marketplace showcasing information from a wide range of organisations and charities supporting older people locally, plus the Extra Smiles Awards! Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


If you would like to apply for a place, please complete the form below by 31 March and send to: For more information please call: 01670 629135.

Booking Form