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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

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Survey 2020

Tell us your NHS, health and care experiences from last year.

We are running our annual survey during February and March this year, asking you about the NHS, health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

By telling us about the care you received and what’s important to you, you can help us set our work for the coming year so that we can be more effective on your behalf.

You can also come and talk to us and tell us what you think of health and social care services at one of our public events below. Let us know about your experiences, what went well and what could be improved, and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you are unable to come to one of our events you can leave your feedback via our online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

 

Come and see us in your area!

Monday 3 February: Age UK Northumberland, Round House, Ashington NE63 9JZ: 10.00am – 1.00pm (part of the Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group public drop-in)

Tuesday 4 February: Amble Youth Project NE65 0DT: 10.00am – 11.30am (Bridge Project Employability Hub)

Wednesday 5 February: No 28 Community Project, Hexham NE46 1DJ: 11.00am – 12.30pm (Bridge Project Employability Hub)

Thursday 6 February: Concordia Leisure Centre, Cramlington NE23 6YB: 1.30pm – 3.30pm

Thursday 6 February: Cheviot Centre, Wooler NE71 6BL: 2.00pm – 4.00pm (in partnership with Wooler patient participation group)

Wednesday 12 February: Rothbury Practice NE65 7UW: 10.30am – 12.00pm

Thursday 13 February: Northumbria Hospital (cafe area, lower ground floor), Cramlington NE23 6NZ: 10.00am – 12.00pm

Thursday 13 February: The Village Surgery, Cramlington NE63 6US: 3.00pm – 4.00pm

Thursday 13 February: Forum Family Practice, Cramlington NE63 6QN: 4.15pm – 5.15pm

Friday 14 February: Spetchells Centre, Prudhoe NE42 5AA: 10.00am – 11.30am (Bridge Project Employability Hub)

Wednesday 19 February: Seaton Delaval Community Centre NE25 0BW: 10.00am – 1.00pm (part of the Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group public drop-in)

Wednesday 19 February: Adapt (NE) Community Information Morning, Hexham NE46 3HN: 10.30am – 12.30pm

Thursday 20 February: Morpeth Library NE61 1AF: 3.00pm – 5.00pm

Tuesday 25 February: Riverside Leisure Centre, Morpeth NE61 1PR: 1.30pm – 3.30pm

 

Wednesday 4 March: Morpeth Town Hall NE61 1LZ: 10.00am – 1.00pm (part of the Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group public drop-in)

Monday 9 March: Hexham General Hospital NE46 1QJ: 10.00am – 1.00pm

Wednesday 11 March: Blyth Library NE24 2DJ: 10.30am – 12.00pm

Wednesday 11 March: Blyth Sports Centre NE24 5BT: 1.30pm – 3.30pm

Thursday 12 March: Haltwhistle Leisure Centre NE49 0AX: 1.30pm – 3.00pm (Bridge Project Employability Hub)

Thursday 12 March: Haltwhistle Methodist Church NE49 0AX: 5.00pm – 7.00pm

Wednesday 18 March: Wansbeck General Hospital, Ashington NE63 9JJ: 10.00am – 1.00pm

Wednesday 18 March: Ashington Leisure Centre NE63 9JY: 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Thursday 19 March: Berwick Library (first floor) TD15 1DB: 12.00pm – 2.00pm

Monday 23 March: Bedlington Community Allotment (behind Chester Court Care Home) NE22 7LD: 11.30am – 1.30pm

Friday 27 March:  Gallery Youth Project, Alnwick NE66 1SX: 11.00am – 12.30pm (Bridge Project Employability Hub)

 

 

 

 

BID Services Northumberland

BID Sight Loss Drop In Service

BID Services is a charity working in partnership with children, young people and adults and their families and carers. It supports people who are deaf, hard of hearing, visually impaired or have a dual sensory loss. Specialist service areas include advocacy, employment, British Sign Language interpreting and training, rehabilitation and mobility training, specialist equipment, residential care, social work, support for tinnitus and housing related services.

BID Services Northumberland is trying to further promote services across the community by having promotional tables at a range of venues for people to come along and discuss sight loss. There will be equipment on display and information leaflets available on different sight conditions. The people manning the table are qualified professionals within the sight loss area and are able to answer any questions you may have. Please see below where you can go and when to have a chat with the BID Services team.

For more information call 01670 293150.

 

Prudhoe Waterworld

Monday 17 February, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Thursday 25 June, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Friday 23 October, 1.30pm – 3.30pm

 

Wentworth Leisure Centre, Hexham

Monday 17 February, 11.00am – 1.00pm

Tuesday 25 June, 11.00am – 1.00pm

Friday 23 October, 10.30am – 12.30pm

 

Swan Centre, Berwick

Monday 20 January, 10.30am – 12.30pm

Wednesday 20 May, 10.30am – 12.30pm

Thursday 24 September, 10.30am – 12.30pm

 

Willowburn Leisure Centre, Alnwick

Monday 20 January, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Wednesday 20 May, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Thursday 24 September, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

 

Ashington Leisure Centre

Monday 20 April, 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Wednesday 19 August, 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Friday 4 December, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

 

Riverside Leisure Centre, Morpeth

Monday 20 April, 11.30am – 1.30pm

Wednesday 19 August, 11.30am – 1.30pm

Friday 4 December, 11.00am – 1.00pm

 

Blyth Sports Centre

Wednesday 25 March, 11.30am – 1.30pm

Thursday 23 July, 11.30am – 1.30pm

Friday 20 November, 11.00am – 1..00pm

 

Concordia Leisure Centre, Cramlington

Wednesday 25 March, 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Thursday 23 July, 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Friday 20 November, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Care Provision in Coquetdale

Home Care Provision in Coquetdale

This report is the result of joint work between Carers Northumberland, the Coquetdale Carers and Service Users Group and Healthwatch Northumberland looking at the issues of providing Home Care services in the Coquetdale area.
Based on two surveys carried out in 2018, it shows the key concerns and expectations of people who use services and their carers are communication and continuity of service. It also clearly highlights the challenges faced by agencies providing health and care services in a rural area.
We are pleased that Northumberland County Council’s Adult Social Care commissioner was actively involved throughout the process and responded positively to the process and findings and we welcome the progress reported by Age UK Northumberland.
However, the main thank you is to Cathy Jacobs of the Coquetdale Carers and Service Users Group who organised and analysed the surveys and most importantly set the tone for the work from the beginning of raising concerns but at the same time providing insight and suggestions for making things better.

You can read the home care report here

 

 

Cancer Information Events

Cancer Information Events Northumberland

The Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group is holding a series of events across Northumberland, where you can share your ideas and experiences as a patient or carer of someone with cancer. There will also be a mix of organisations with information stalls offering advice and support. All the events start at 10.00am with lunch at 12.00pm.

 

Monday 3 February: The Roundhouse, Ashington NE63 9JZ

Wednesday 19 February: Seaton Delaval Community Centre NE25 0BW

Wednesday 4 March: Morpeth Town Hall NE61 1LZ

Wednesday 11 March: United Reformed Church, Market Place, Rothbury NE65 7UW

Thursday 26 March: Hexham Mart, Tyne Green Hexham NE46 3SG

 

There’s no need to book but if you have any queries about the events please email: info@ncpcg.org or call: 07817 515265.

These events are supported by the Northern Cancer Alliance and working with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the Empowering Communities Project team at Northumberland County Council.

 

 

Communication and Marketing Assistant

We are looking for a Communication and Marketing Assistant to join our team.

Communication and Marketing Assistant

Part time – 20 hours per week

Permanent dependent on funding

Based at Adapt (NE), Hexham

Salary: £20,395 per annum pro rata (£11,024.32 per annum – actual)

Closing date for applications: midnight, Wednesday 29 January

Interview date: 5 February 2020

 

Could this be you?

  • Are you passionate about improving local NHS and social care services?
  • Do you enjoy talking to people and listening to their experiences?
  • Can you create content that is engaging and accessible?

Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for people who use health and social care services.  By joining our committed and enthusiastic team you will have the opportunity to use your communication skills to give a voice to people who use those services, influence positive change to services and help meet the health and social care needs of our communities.

Below you will find the application form, job description and a link to our latest annual report.

If you would like an informal discussion about the role and Healthwatch Northumberland, contact Claire Jackson, Communication and Marketing Officer: clairej@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk, 03332 408468.

Healthwatch Northumberland Communication and Marketing Assistant job description and person specification

Healthwatch Northumberland Communication and Marketing Assistant application form

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2018/19

 

Where to go for help if you feel unwell this winter

Feeling unwell? Read on for advice about where you can go for help with your health during the winter months. Cold weather can trigger or worsen health problems, so it’s important that you know where to go for help if you become unwell. This winter, the NHS is running a campaign called ‘Help us help you’ to help people understand how to stay well during the winter and which services to use when they need support. Take a look at the information below to find out which is the most appropriate service to meet your needs.

At risk groups: Get advice if you feel unwell

Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather, especially if you are 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition. If you are 65 or over, or in one of the other at-risk groups, see a pharmacist as soon as you feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or cold. The sooner you get advice, the sooner you are likely to get better. Click here to find out if you are in one of the at-risk groups, and for tips on how to stay well this winter.

Get your free flu vaccination

To help at-risk groups stay well this winter, the NHS is offering free flu vaccinations to people who are 65 or over, those with some long term health conditions, pregnant women and toddlers aged 2-3 years. Contact your GP or local pharmacist for more information.

Call NHS 111 if you are:

  • Unsure
  • Unwell
  • Confused
  • Need to know where to go

For confidential health service advice and information, call NHS 111. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They will direct you to the best place to get treatment and advise you of locally available services. Visit NHS 111 to get more information.

Visit your local pharmacy if you’re experiencing:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Runny nose
  • Headache flu-like symptoms

Your local pharmacist is fully qualified to give you advice on common illnesses and injuries, and medicines to treat them. They will also tell you if you need to see a doctor. Click here to find your local pharmacy.

Contact your GP and out of hours if you have:

  • Ear discharge/ pain
  • Rashes
  • Stomach pain
  • Concerns regarding ongoing conditions

Contact your GP surgery if you have an illness or injury that won’t go away. You can call NHS 111 for advice if you need help outside your GP surgery opening hours. Click here to find your local GP service.

Call 999 in a medical emergency.

A medical emergency is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. These can include:

Click here for further information about the 999 emergency services.

For less serious injuries…

Go to your local Minor Injuries Unit for less serious injuries, such as:

  • Strains
  • Sprains
  • Stitches

You can visit an NHS Minor Injuries Unit without an appointment for the treatment of minor illnesses and injuries. Click here for more information regarding the minor injury units.

Looking after yourself

Many illnesses and injuries can be treated at home, and this can also help to stop spreading some viral infections.

  • Cough or cold
  • Sore throat
  • Grazed knee
  • Hangover

Ensure your medicine cabinet is stocked with things like paracetamol, plasters, rehydration mixture, a thermometer and indigestion remedy. If you are feeling worried, do not wait until you feel worse, visit a pharmacy for advice about your symptoms. For more information about conditions, symptoms and services, visit the NHS website.

Quarterly Report – July to September 2019

As independent champion for people who use health and social care services, we receive feedback about what is working well for people and what could be improved, and share these views with those who have the power to make change happen. We also help people find the information they need about services in their area and record this as ‘signposting’.

The report below shares a summary of the feedback collected from July to September 2019.
This quarter we received feedback and enquiries from:
• Telephone calls, emails and social media (52%)
• Postal surveys and feedback forms (5%)
• Talking to people at local engagement events (43%)

 

Summary for feedback received between July and September 2019.

  • The average person feeding back to Healthwatch Northumberland is a woman aged between 65-79 from the Tynedale area. They are most likely to be feeding back about their own experiences.
  • They are most likely to get in touch with us by the telephone, email, or social media, or through engagement events we run in their local area.
  • Most people fed back to us with concerns or complaints about health services.
  • Most of our feedback is about primary care services. This quarter pharmacies and GP surgeries dominated the negative feedback we got about primary care.
  • Secondary care services also make up a large proportion of our feedback. This quarter feedback about a physiotherapy service dominated the negative feedback about secondary care.
  • We also continued to hear back about the loss of the Hear to Help Service, which was provided by Action on Hearing Loss.
  • Consistent with last quarter, most feedback was about people finding it hard to access services, rather than quality of care.
  • Healthwatch Northumberland had a total of 80 recordable interactions with people. 58 of these gave us feedback, 38 were signposted and 3 exchanged information with us.
  • We signposted to Independent Complaints Advocacy Northumberland, Carers Northumberland, North of Tyne Patient Advice and Liaison Service, and Northumberland County Council more than once this quarter, and at least once last quarter.
  • Almost half of the organisations we signposted to this quarter were voluntary sector organisations.

Read the full report for July to September 2019

Northumbria Hospital

Healthwatch at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Working in partnership with Healthwatch North Tyneside and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, we heard from 309 people over 14 three-hour sessions in the waiting area in the Emergency Department and Paediatrics Emergency Department of the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in November 2018.  People had travelled to the hospital independently and told us why they were attending the Emergency Department, what other services they had/tried to access and what they thought could make their experiences of getting care better.

Based on what we heard we produced the report below which includes recommendations that are now being implemented by Northumbria Healthcare, Northumberland and North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Groups and North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust.  Our observations and recommendations:

  • We suggest that a system-wide approach is needed to review the information and advice available to support people to get the care they need and help people to navigate themselves through the urgent care system.

 

  • A system wide approach is needed to review the transport issues people have highlighted, particularly public transport access to The Northumbria Hospital. We are pleased to note that Northumbria Healthcare has established a Rural Healthcare Commission and we hope this report will be used to help inform the discussions about transport.

 

  • Changes to the waiting room environment to improve experience and accessibility.

 

A number of changes have already taken place or are planned to the public waiting areas.

Read the report – Understanding people’s experiences of attending the Emergency Department at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Your Voice Fund

We are very excited to announce the Your Voice Fund.  This is an opportunity for more people to have their experiences of health and social care services heard and to make those services better.  We recognise that there are some people we do not hear from enough. In particular:

  • People with learning disabilities
  • People from the LGBTQ+ communities
  • Young people
  • Black and minority ethnic communities
  • People living in Northumberland through asylum or refugee resettlement programmes

Small grants of up to £1,000 are available for projects which can:

Gather people’s views and experiences of health and social care services in Northumberland,

Or

Respond to views you have already gathered, deliver an activity, create a resource or run a promotional campaign about a health and care issue in Northumberland.

Talk to us about your ideas and find out more below.

Your Voice Fund Information Pack

 

Events

Healthwatch Northumberland Meet and Greet Alnwick

At our ‘meet and greet’ sessions you can meet our team of board members and staff and find out more about what we do as independent champion for health and social care users. The meet and greet takes place before our bi-monthly board meetings, which are held at a different venue in Northumberland, and we invite local residents who have an interest in health and social care services, community groups and health professionals along for a cup of coffee and chance to find out more about our work.

If you live or work in the Alnwick area we’d love to see you. Please let us know in advance if you hope to join us – email: info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call: 03332 408468.

Audiology Cinic drop-in Berwick – Union Brae

As part of our work to find out people’s experiences of using audiology services, we will be at the audiology clinic in Berwick talking to those using the services. We will be asking people with hearing loss a few questions to find out what is working well for them and what could be improved.

 

Audiology drop-in Alnwick

As part of our work to find out people’s experiences of using audiology services, we will be at the audiology clinic at Alnwick Infirmary talking to those using the services. We will be asking people with hearing loss a few questions to find out what is working well for them and what could be improved.

 

Volunteer Induction Session

There are spaces available on our next Volunteer Induction Day in Hexham in October, so if you’ve been thinking about joining our growing team of Healthwatch Northumberland volunteers, please get in touch. There’s more information about the ways you can get involved at our Volunteer page.

 

Audiology drop-in Berwick

As part of our work to find out people’s experiences of using audiology services, we will be at Berwick Library talking to those using the services. We will be asking people with hearing loss a few questions to find out what is working well for them and what could be improved.

 

Audiology clinic drop-in Corbridge

As part of our work to find out people’s experiences of using audiology services, we will be at the audiology clinic in Corbridge talking to those using the services. We will be asking people with hearing loss a few questions to find out what is working well for them and what could be improved.

 

Audiology clinic drop-in Morpeth

As part of our work to find out people’s experiences of using audiology services, we will be at the audiology clinic in Morpeth talking to those using the services. We will be asking people with hearing loss a few questions to find out what is working well for them and what could be improved.

 

Ponteland Winter Warmer

Join local support groups and organisations for a cuppa and a chat at the first Ageing Well in Northumberland Winter Warmer. Find out more about staying active, safe and well, plus advice on the health and social support available for older people at this free event.

Carers Rights Day

This year’s Carers Rights Day Information Event from Carers Northumberland is taking place in Ponteland. If you look after someone, then this event will provide everything you need to stay informed and healthy. There will be information stalls around the areas of carers rights, welfare rights, housing, digital skills, energy advice, advocacy, fire and community safety, aids & adaptations and healthcare – our team will be there too with lots of information about health and social care services.

The health MOT area will have lots of information for you around moving and handling, healthy eating, stopping smoking, mental health and GP services, and you can even get your blood pressure checked.

You don’t need to book for this event for carers, just turn up. Call 01670 320025 for more details.

 

Listening Event – Blyth Library

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

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

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

Healthwatch Northumberland Conference 2019