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David’s at the helm of new Berwick hospital

From Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust:

A project manager has been appointed to drive forward the building of the new £25million hospital in Berwick.

David Smailes will oversee all aspects of the development which is set to transform healthcare in the area and be erected on the site of the existing Berwick Infirmary. Northumberland-born and bred, David has more than 40 years’ experience in the civil engineering and construction industry and has led a number of large national projects.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s planning application is due to be decided by Northumberland County Council on Tuesday 1 December.

David, who was born in Alnwick and lives in Warkworth, said “I’m really excited to be part of the team building the new hospital in Berwick and the significance of this development for the town, the surrounding area, and the trust is clear from the short time I have been in post.

“My uncle Joseph was a barber in Berwick for many years so I feel I have a connection with the place and therefore it’s extra special to be involved in this project and spending time there once again.

“This hospital is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a massive difference to the lives of people for generations to come and I am proud to be working with such a dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable team.”

David, 56, added “I fully appreciate the importance of working collaboratively with the local community on developments of this magnitude and I would like to reassure residents and all partners that we will keep everyone updated throughout this process.

“While it will be challenging to build a new hospital at the same time as keeping the existing one operational, every one of the team is committed to doing just that and ensuring we continue to keep our staff safe and deliver high quality care for our patients at all times.”

If given the go-ahead, the two-storey hospital will re-provide all the existing services and embrace the latest technology to improve care for patients. It will accommodate Well Close Medical Group which will pave the way for further integration between GPs and the hospital for the benefit of patients.

Executive Director Marion Dickson, who is leading the Berwick redevelopment project for the trust, said “We are delighted to have David at the helm as we reach the stage of having a dedicated project manager for our new hospital. He has vast experience in this field and, having links to the town, is aware of the background and the need to more forward as quickly as we can.

“We will continue to keep you updated and can assure you that, as soon as we are granted planning permission, we will advance to the next stage of the development by demolishing the parts of the infirmary which we have vacated, to make way for the new hospital.”

Patients with appointments at Berwick Infirmary are encouraged to attend as normal in the run-up to, and construction of, the new hospital, and during Covid-19.

Let’s Talk: Audiology Services Report

After receiving significant feedback from people in Northumberland about the end of the Hear to Help service provided by charity Action on Hearing Loss, we decided investigate the potential impact on services users.

Hear to Help was a drop-in service delivered in community locations including libraries and GP surgeries. The drop-in service provided advice and information for people experiencing hearing loss, as well as performing general hearing aid/s maintenance, such as replacing tubes and batteries.The Hear to Help service stopped on 30 April 2019.

Feedback we received suggested that some people appreciated the service and did not want it to be withdrawn. We took a deeper look at the impact, if any, of the withdrawal of this service and to build a greater awareness and understanding of what people in Northumberland want and need in services to support with hearing loss.

It should be noted this work was done before the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant change to services. However, the issues raised by respondents, particularly about communication, remain relevant now and in the future.

 

Aims

We wanted to find out:

  1. What do people in Northumberland think of audiology services?
  2. What audiology services are available for the people of Northumberland?
  3. What is good about audiology services in the county?
  4. What could be better about audiology services in the county?

 

Summary

Location of hearing loss services was a key area of discussion

  • More than 50% of people we asked said it was easy for them to travel to an audiology clinic
  • Some people were happy they did not need to travel to Newcastle
  • Some people said the clinic was in a bad location with accessibility issues, seasonal transport issues, and public transport combined with limited clinic opening hours
  • People who found it easy to access clinics used a range of different transport modes
  • We are unlikely to have heard from the most isolated, vulnerable people in the county People who live rurally, with mobility issues, or limited social networks, and lower incomes, are likely to find it hardest to access hearing care clinics
  • Some patients were supported by a carer or friend to attend a clinic or understand their care – a gap for patients in accessing or receiving hearing care independently
  • Few people told us they used patient/community transport services to access a clinic

Information about and awareness of services was another key area of discussion

  • We signposted people to: transport services, audiology clinics, and voluntary groups (like Carers Northumberland), showing a lack of awareness/information availability
  • Some people were aware of hearing aid/s battery locations, whilst others were not
  • One patient spoke about an information form given with their hearing aid/s used to support them to live with hearing aid/s. Contrastingly, 48% of people said they had not been offered training, advice, or support for living with hearing loss
  • Some people believed the onus was on the person experiencing hearing loss to ask rather than professionals to let them know what support was available
  • 10 of 11 people in our focus group did not know of the hearing aid/s postal service
  • Some people were not physically able to clean or retube their own hearing aid/s due to dexterity problems, vision impairment, or not feeling confident enough
  • 23% of people we asked agreed they had felt isolated as a result of their hearing loss

Drop in vs appointments

  • Most people preferred drop-ins to appointments, finding them easier or more convenient
  • In our focus group most patients preferred appointments to drop-ins
  • Many patients were satisfied with the current audiology appointment system
  • Interestingly patients gave similar reasons for their preference of either appointments or drop-ins – ease of managing transport arrangements as a priority
  • 42% of patients would like to be told it was their turn to be seen by someone calling out their name. Some patients liked the idea of having a board with their name on
  • 62% of patients we spoke to agreed the waiting time for their appointment was reasonable 71% of people agreed their appointment gave them ‘time to talk’
  • 52% of people said they had their hearing aid/s serviced at the right time for them

Regular hearing aid/s maintenance and NHS audiology services

  • People were positive about the quality of care provided in audiology clinics. People praised the staff and were satisfied they got what they needed from the service
  • It is advised that hearing aid/s tubing is replaced every three to six months. 42% of patients had their hearing aid/s maintained in the last six months, and 46% had not
  • Many people we spoke to were able to clean and change batteries in their hearing aid/s but could not change their tubes
  • Some patients said they had waited a while to receive their new hearing aids
  • People told us that not all hearing aid/s batteries/tubes were available everywhere
  • Some patients said they found face to face communication easiest. Many services now offer a phone appointment system, a barrier to people with hearing loss

Hear to Help service

  • Hear to Help was an important service for people experiencing hearing loss
  • People at the Bell View focus group said the service had helped to show them how to maintain their hearing aid/s, and given them tube cleaners

Read the Full Report

NHS 111 Northumberland

NHS 111 ‘Call-First’ FAQs

You may have heard or seen in the news that NHS England is currently trialling a new ‘call-first’ approach, which encourages people to contact NHS 111 before going to A&E. To support this, 111 call handlers should be able to book people directly into appointments with alternative services or give people a pre-booked time to attend A&E to avoid overcrowding in departments.

Healthwatch England has produced this FAQ guide jointly with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine which outlines how the new approach should be working and common questions people may have surrounding it.

Emergency Departments (A&Es) are there for all and everyone in their time of need. They are the frontline care service we turn to when we’re experiencing a critical, life threatening health problem or have had a serious accident.

We want all patients to receive the best possible care in a safe and timely way, but too often people are kept waiting in their A&E. Many patients who go to A&E could be treated more appropriately, and often more quickly by another service within the NHS.

Which is why the NHS is asking patients to call 111 first. By calling 111 first patients can potentially avoid waiting unnecessarily in a hospital waiting room and find the service that is right for their needs.

Calling 111 first may also help to reduce pressure on parts of the health service that are overstretched by redirecting patients to services that are ready and available for them, helping make the NHS better for all.

The coronavirus pandemic has also made clear that we need to change the way we all access urgent and emergency care, to help reduce the risk of infection.
Here we outline what those changes are and answer some of the frequently asked questions about what these changes mean for patients.

NHS 111 Call-first Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is happening?
To ensure that patients get the right care as quickly as possible, save people long waits in A&E, and ensure emergency departments don’t get too crowded, patients are being asked to call NHS 111 first before going to their A&E – except in absolute emergencies. NHS 111 will advise patients on whether they could be better and more quickly served in a different care setting such as an Urgent Treatment Centre. Some areas are trialling booking appointments at A&E via 111 to help patients save time waiting if their issue is less urgent.

2. Why is this change being made now?
This is how we think emergency care should always be accessed, but it is really important that this becomes the norm now we are living with COVID-19. To support social distancing in A&E, we need to make sure A&Es really are for emergencies only, and sometimes patients waiting in A&E may be better served elsewhere, such as their General Practice. This means A&E departments are more crowded, putting patients at greater risk of COVID-19 and making it more difficult for staff to look after patients well. Social distancing in A&E may mean that some people have to wait outside or in their car until it is safe for them to come into the department.

To prevent this, the NHS wants to support as many people as possible to be seen quickly by other services that may be more appropriate for the needs of certain patients. This is why we’re asking patients to call NHS 111 before going to their Emergency Department.

3. What should I do if I have an emergency?
If you have an emergency, call 999 immediately or go straight to your Emergency Department (A&E). If you have a health issue that is not an emergency please contact your GP, call NHS 111 for advice or visit 111.nhs.uk. If you go to your A&E, you’ll be assessed on arrival but if the clinician thinks you should be seen elsewhere, you may be asked to phone NHS 111 and/or be directed to an alternative service.

4. Can you give me an example of an emergency and a non-emergency?
Emergencies include:
• loss of consciousness
• acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
• chest pain
• breathing difficulties
• severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
• severe allergic reactions
• severe burns or scalds
• stroke

If you think you are experiencing any of these it is vital you go straight to your Emergency Department or call 999.

Examples of non-emergencies would be earache or knee pain. While these may be uncomfortable you are unlikely to be in any danger and could be treated more appropriately somewhere other than you’re A&E. For these types of issues contact your GP, call NHS 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk. If your issue is urgent but not life-threatening – like a sprained ankle – calling 111 and getting a pre-booked appointment to attend A&E can save you a long and uncertain wait in the department, allowing you to wait in the comfort of your own home until the Emergency Department is ready to see you.

5. Will I ever be turned away from an A&E department?
No-one experiencing a medical emergency will ever be turned away – you will always be treated urgently if your condition is severe or potentially life-threatening.
If your condition is not life threatening or could be treated more appropriately or quickly elsewhere you may be asked to call 111 from the hospital. By asking those with less urgent issues to call NHS 111 first for assessment rather than going straight to their A&E, we aim to save patients time and get them the care most appropriate to their needs. You could be directed to a more appropriate service or one that can see you sooner. You may also be able to wait at home and avoid a long wait in a busy Emergency Department.

6. When I call 111, who am I speaking to and are they clinically trained?
NHS 111 services are managed slightly differently in each region, but most are run by ambulance services. You will speak to trained professionals who will either be or have direct access to healthcare clinicians, and who will be able to expertly assess the urgency of your condition or illness. They will direct you to the appropriate service, book you an appointment if needed, and/or tell you what to do next.

7. My NHS 111 always sends me to A&E. Why can’t I save myself the delay and just go straight there?
In 2018, only one in ten callers to 111 was advised to visit A&E. NHS 111 can often provide health advice over the phone, or book you an appointment at an alternative service that is available. This will save you time. If you are told to go to an A&E, you will be booked in and staff at the hospital will be expecting your arrival.

8. Will I receive an appointment more quickly if I have a more urgent health need?
Yes, patients are always assessed and prioritised based on the urgency of their need.

9. If I call 111 and they say I need care from a non-emergency service, will they be able to make an appointment for me?
This varies by location, but one aim of the call-first approach is to ensure it happens more. If 111 can’t make you an appointment at an alternative service immediately, they will direct you to the best service to meet your needs.

10. What if I can’t contact NHS 111?
91% of calls to NHS 111 are answered within 60 seconds. You can also use NHS 111 online. If you have an emergency, you should call 999 or go straight to your Emergency Department. If you do not have the means to contact 111, go to your Emergency Department  and they will have facilities for you to do this. You can also contact your GP.

11. If 111 directs me to a non-urgent service, but the service tells me to go to A&E, will I be seen more quickly?
If a health professional believes that your condition has become or is becoming urgent, then you may be directed to your A&E, where you will be prioritised according to your condition. However, it will depend on the circumstances and the urgency of your medical need.

12. If I turn up at A&E and I haven’t called 111, will I need to wait longer?
Depending on your condition, you may be asked to call NHS 111 on arrival. They will assess whether you could be more appropriately treated elsewhere – and potentially more quickly. You may be given an appointment time at your GP or A&E. This will save you waiting unnecessarily. If you are directed elsewhere and choose to wait for treatment at you’re A&E, you may end up waiting longer. However, if you are seriously ill or injured you will of course be seen as quickly as possible.

13. What happens if I turn up to A&E and they tell me to call 111, but 111 then tell me to go to A&E?
This shouldn’t happen but in the unlikely event that it does you will be further assessed at your A&E and treated in a timeframe appropriate to your needs.

14. Do I need to call NHS 111 if I arrived at an A&E in an ambulance?
No, the triage and assessment by a paramedic provides a higher level of care than you would get by phoning NHS 111. If you are brought to the hospital by an ambulance, this means that the ambulance staff thinks you need further help. A&Es have always prioritised the treatment of patients who arrive by ambulance, as these people are sicker.

15. If I call 111 and they give me an appointed time to attend the A&E what will happen if I can’t get there on time?
Please do try to stick to your appointment time. Being late has a knock-on effect on the treatment of other patients, and your own care – Emergency Departments are very busy places and you may have to wait longer as a result of being late. However, what happens if you are late will depend on the severity of your condition, local policies and how busy the A&E is.

16. How far ahead of my pre-booked appointment will I need to turn up?
It is important to turn up on time as being late has a knock-on effect but arriving early does not mean you will be seen before your allotted time. We would advise checking in no more than 15 minutes before your appointment.

17. What happens if someone gets a booked appointment for A&E but doesn’t show up? Will someone check that they’re ok?
We expect all departments that book-in patients to have systems in place to assess whether a follow up is necessary. It is particularly important that vulnerable patients or those at risk of abuse who miss appointments are checked up on.

18. Will anyone else other than 111 be able to book me into A&E (e.g. GP practice etc)?
No, but your GP may tell you to go to your A&E if your needs warrant it.

19. What if I go to A&E and am advised to go to a different service but I still want to wait there and be seen?
You will be seen but you might to have to wait longer. You may find that you will be seen quicker by going to the other service.

20. What if my condition changes while I’m waiting at home?
This depends on the change in your condition; if you become seriously ill, call an ambulance, otherwise call NHS 111 again.

21. How do I cancel an appointment made by 111?
If you no longer need your appointment, please call NHS 111 to cancel it. Someone else may be able to use your timeslot.

22. If I’m told not to go to A&E, where else might I be directed to?
This will vary locally depending on what is available. You may be directed to a pharmacist, your GP, A&E or given advice on how best to self-care if your call advisor thinks you are safe to do so. You may also be directed to an Urgent Treatment Centre. These are facilities you can go to if  you need urgent medical attention, but it’s not a life-threatening situation. If you are unsure about what service is right for you, call NHS 111.

23. I have a complicated ongoing medical problem that is looked after by the hospital. When I get ill, I normally go straight to the A&E and they call the specialist to come and see me. Should I carry on doing this?
It might be better for you to try and contact the specialists that look after you before you come to the Emergency Department. Some patients with complicated medical problems need to be looked after in places other than the Emergency Department, particularly if they are vulnerable to infections. Obviously, if you are extremely ill, you should call an ambulance.

Watch our online AGM and Review of the Year

Thanks to everyone who came along to our online AGM last week. We hope you enjoyed hearing about our work over the last 12 months, and also from our guests from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who spoke about accessing healthcare via digital means, assuring quality of consultations, and what the future holds.

The event can be viewed below. There is still time to ask a question – about our work, about digital access to services, or anything to do with local NHS and social care services. Get your questions to us by 30 October; we will publish all questions and answers here in the next few weeks.

 

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM and Review of the Year 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

Come on Board – New Members Wanted

Healthwatch Northumberland Board Members

We are looking for exceptional people with a keen interest in local health and social care services to join our board.

Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for health and social care across the county.  As the landscape of health and social care changes due to COVID, this is a crucial time to become involved.  By joining our skilled and enthusiastic board you will use your local knowledge to help us give a voice to people who use services, influence positive change to services and help meet the health and social care needs of our communities.

As you will appreciate, our aim to act as an independent ‘voice’ of the people of Northumberland in all matters related to health and social care, is even more important in these challenging times.

This particular role is to become an Independent Board Member working within an established team, details of which are given in the Board Recruitment Information pack below.

For more information contact Derry Nugent on: 07590 880016 or email: derryn@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk

The closing date for applications is 9.00am on 30 October 2020.

 

Healthwatch Northumberland Board Recruitment Information Pack

Healthwatch Northumberland Board Member Application Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quarterly Report April to June 2020

As the independent champion for people who use health and social care services, Healthwatch Northumberland listens to what people in Northumberland think about the services they have used. We act on what people are saying, sharing their 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’.

People who use health and social care services tell Healthwatch Northumberland about their experiences throughout the year. This report shares a summary of the feedback collected from April to June 2020.  This period was during the national Covid-19 lockdown and we had stopped all face to face engagement and started to work in different ways. The next report will cover July to September 2020.

This quarter we received feedback and enquiries from:

  • Telephone calls, emails and social media (92%)
  • Postal surveys and feedback forms (4%)
  • Talking to people at online engagement events (2%)
  • Through a third party (2%)

Areas of Focus

We are open to all feedback about health and social care services. Responses to our Annual Survey helped us to identify a specific areas of focus which we are prioritising in 2020/21.

Mental Health Services, especially for children and young people

Covid-19 has meant changes have been made to health and social care services. Patients and carers’ experiences and signposting requirements are likely to have been different during this time.  For this reason we have also chosen to focus on any feedback we receive which is related to Covid-19 and these changes.

We are also working to hear more from people in area of the county we hear from less, particularly in south east Northumberland.

Aims

The report shows:

  • Who Healthwatch Northumberland is hearing from
  • What people are saying and the general sentiment of comments
  • What people are experiencing – what is working well and where there are areas for improvement?

Feedback

Between April and June 2020, we received feedback from 47 people. We signposted 13 of these people to services and provided information or advice to eight people.

This report explores who Healthwatch Northumberland is hearing from across the county, presenting a summary of general respondent demographic information. Demographic information shared includes location, gender, age, and whether the respondent is sharing their own health and social care experience or speaking on behalf of a friend or relative.

We also look at the general sentiment of comments, with specific reference to the service type (e.g. primary care, secondary care, mental health, social care), as well as whether the feedback relates specifically to quality of care or access to services. Service category, for instance whether the comment refers to a GP surgery or acute care, is also explored alongside the sentiment of feedback. 

Read the report for April to June 2020

New Service for Young Carers

A new service to support young carers has been commissioned by Northumberland County Council. Carers Northumberland, the local support service for adult carers will be leading on the project.

Anne-Marie Johnstone has been appointed as the Young Carers Support Worker for Northumberland and will be working with other youth and young people’s services across the county to provide individual tailored support for young carers.

The aims of the project are to ensure that children and young people have the support they need to learn, develop, and thrive, to enjoy positive childhoods and to achieve their full potential.

The service uses a whole family approach, which ensures that both children and parents are able to get the support they need, at the right time, by supporting families to access integrated, co-ordinated, multi-agency, solution focused support. By identifying problems early, different services can work more closely together to help prevent a family’s needs escalating and requiring a more intensive intervention at a later date.

All young carers will have an assessment of their needs which identifies the level of caring and how this is impacting on their life.  A Plan will then be developed  with the young carer and their family to  help support them and reduce the negative impact of caring on their lives which will enable the young carer to access the same life opportunities as their peers.

Young carers referred to the project will also be able to access to a Young Carers Active Northumberland card for use in the county’s leisure centres, and a small grants scheme which will offer financial support to young carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities.

Anyone who is working with a family or young person, who feels that there is someone in that dynamic with a caring role can make a referral into the project.

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

Northumbria Healthcare logo

Non-essential hospital visits suspended

From Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust:
Due to the rise in cases of coronavirus in the community, non-essential visiting is to be suspended in hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside, with effect from midnight, Thursday 17 September 2020.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has taken this difficult, however important, decision to protect its patients and staff.Until further notice, visiting will only be permitted in the following circumstances and PPE must be worn:

  • For patients who are receiving end-of-life care or are terminally ill and in the late stages of their illness
  • For birthing partners in maternity units
  • For parents or legal guardians in the children’s unit
  • For long-stay patients and those with dementia or where best interest decisions or exceptional clinical/social matters are being discussed, at the discretion of the nurse in charge

Women can bring their birthing partners when attending 12 or 20-week scan appointments.

This move comes as tougher restrictions are announced for the seven local authority areas in the North East, including Northumberland and North Tyneside.

iPads will continue to be available on wards to facilitate ‘virtual’ visiting and friends and relatives will be able to stay connected to loved ones by ringing the trust’s patient line on 0191 293 4306, available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm or sharing pictures/photos via In addition, patients can make unlimited phone calls to UK landlines and mobiles free of charge via bedside units.

Anyone attending an outpatient or diagnostic appointment or for a minor injury, urgent care or in an emergency at hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside is asked to do so alone, unless they need to be accompanied by a carer, to reduce footfall. People attending hospital sites are being reminded to wash their hands at the basins when entering and leaving, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.

Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at Northumbria Healthcare, said:

“In light of the increased numbers of cases of coronavirus across Northumberland and North Tyneside, we simply must take action now to protect our patients, staff and local communities.

“Suspending non-essential visiting is a difficult decision to make however, given the current situation in our communities, it is the right one if we are to reduce the spread of coronavirus in our hospitals and take care of our most vulnerable patients.

“As nurses, we know the positive impact seeing and hearing from loved ones can have on a patient and we would urge families to make use of the methods we have in place to facilitate virtual visiting and staying connected.

“We had tremendous support from our communities when we had these visiting restrictions in place previously and we would appeal to them again for their co-operation at this difficult time.”

The trust is also reminding people to:

  • Follow advice on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/if they have symptoms and not to attend A&E or hospital sites for a Covid-19 test.
  • Keep your distance and follow rules on social distancing – please stay apart 2 metres from others where possible. If it isn’t – one metre with mitigations such as a face covering.
  • Do not mix with people from outside your household or support bubble
  • Wear a face covering – especially in enclosed public spaces when social distancing can be difficult or when you are in contact with people you would not normally meet. This includes when you are using public transport, car sharing and using taxis. Please remember to wear a face covering if you are attending health care settings such as a hospital, clinic, GP surgery or pharmacist.
  • Keep those hands extra clean – wash hands for 20 seconds and often. Use soap and water to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. It is especially important to do this when you
    • get home or into work
    • blow your nose or sneeze
    • eat or handle food or drinks

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

If you have symptoms, you are advised to get a test and stay at home. For more information visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

Events

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.”

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

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.

 

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

 

Maternity 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 maternity 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 Lesley Tweddell, lesleyt@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk, or 07803 427 466.

 

Find out about our other online forums