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Digital mental health support for young people

Young people aged 11-25 years living in Northumberland can now access a digital mental health support service.

Kooth.com has been commissioned by the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide a safe, confidential and anonymous way for young people to access emotional wellbeing and early intervention mental health support.

Once registered, Kooth can be accessed on any internet device. Users can complete a daily journal, set goals and seek support through self help resources and peer to peer support. There is also professional help available through qualified counsellors.

Fully trained and qualified counsellors and emotional wellbeing practitioners are available until 10pm each night, 365 days per year, to provide accessible out-of-hours emotional support.

There’s also a Kooth online magazine with helpful articles, personal experiences and tips from young people and the Kooth team.

Join Kooth here or watch this video to find out more.

Virtual NHS Consultations

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

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

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

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

What makes a virtual appointment good?

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

Key findings and recommendations

Arranging a virtual consultation:

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

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

During the appointment itself

Giving people the time they need

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

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

– Maria, physiotherapy patient.

Test, learn and improve

Seek feedback

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

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

Getting the most out of the virtual health and care experience

Our Strategic Plan for 2020-2022

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

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

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

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

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

 

Read our Strategic Plan for 2020-2022

Safe Hospital Visiting Piloted Locally

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is piloting reintroducing visiting safely to some of its inpatient wards in hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Working with relatives, the trust is putting in place an appointment system to enable people to visit loved ones on wards at Alnwick Infirmary, Berwick Infirmary, Blyth Community Hospital, Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital and medicine, care of the elderly and mental health wards at Wansbeck, Hexham and North Tyneside general hospitals.

The relatives of patients in these pilot areas will be contacted to make arrangements to visit if they wish. If anyone has any questions about the pilot, or are unsure whether the ward on which their loved one is staying is part of it, they should contact the ward directly.

Reintroducing visiting at The Northumbria hospital and surgical wards at general hospitals are currently NOT included in the pilot, however, a review is ongoing and the trust aims to expand it to more inpatient areas in due course should it prove safe and workable.

The trust suspended visiting in mid-March to protect its patients and staff and help reduce the spread of coronavirus except in the following circumstances which remain unchanged:

For patients who are receiving end-of-life care
For birthing partners in maternity units
For parents or legal guardians in the children’s unit
At the discretion of the nurse in charge for long-stay patients and those with dementia

There is also currently no visiting to day units, endoscopy, x-ray, oncology areas.

Marion Dickson, executive director for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Protecting our patients and staff is our top priority and while it is not the right time to lift our suspension of visiting completely, we’re committed to working with relatives to safely introduce visiting in pilot areas.

“Our ward teams across Northumberland and North Tyneside are contacting the relatives of patients where visiting is to be allowed to make arrangements. We’d urge people not just to turn up to a ward to visit without first speaking to staff to make an appointment as they will not be allowed in. Anyone with queries should contact the ward directly.

“Whilst our Northumbria hospital and some wards at our general hospitals are excluded from the pilot at this stage, we’d like to reassure people that we are looking at how it is working and plan to include more wards when it is appropriate to do so.”

To keep everyone safe during the pilot, the numbers of visitors on wards at any one time will be limited and visiting will be restricted to up to an hour a day per patient. On arrival on the ward, visitors would need to wash their hands and wear a face covering, gloves and apron throughout their visit. It must also be the same visitor per patient throughout the pilot and visitors will be required to give their contact details to the ward staff.

Arrangements to make iPads available on wards across the trust to facilitate virtual visiting will remain in place. Friends and relatives are also able to stay connected to their loved ones in hospital by ringing 0191 293 4306, available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Marion added: “We appreciate that it has been difficult for people not being able to visit loved ones in hospital over the last few months and we would like to thank them for their co-operation and understanding.”

Share your experiences at our Online Forums

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. All forums take place from 2.00pm – 3.00pm.

If you are unable to take part but would like to tell us about your experiences of these services, members of the team will be available by phone, text and email (see below) each Wednesday after the forums 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. If you would like help to set up Zoom on your device please ask.

 

Online Forums – all take place between 2.00pm and 3.00pm

Wednesday 20 May: Dementia Services

Wednesday 27 May: Adult Social Services (to include support to live independently, care homes, learning disability services)

 

Wednesday 3 June: Mental Health Services

Wednesday 10 June: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Wednesday 17 June: Maternity Services

 

Wednesday 1 July: Mental Health Services

Wednesday 8 July: NHS, Health and Social Care Services – any service you’ve used in the last 12 months

Wednesday 15 July: Unpaid Carers and Mental Health Services

 

Wednesday 12 August: Cancer Services

 

Wednesday 9 September: 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.

 

Wednesday 18 November:  Dementia Services

 

If you would like to take part in a forum please contact Laura Kane, laurak@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk, or call 03332 408468. We can also help you set up Zoom on your device so please get in touch if you would like some guidance.

Free ESOL Resources

As face to face English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes have had to be cancelled this has created particular difficulties for people who are learning English. The Northumberland Library Service has identified some resources which might help some people in this situation.

 

Free online courses:

ESOLcourses.com

Basic English elementary level

English at work

Explore English language culture

 

More online resources (compiled by Leeds City Council)

 

Patient Transport Services Update

Please see below the latest update from North East Ambulance Service about transport services for patients.

 

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) continues to follow government guidance to ensure that the NHS can support people who need to go to hospital. We are providing transport safely and swiftly during the COVID-19 pandemic, for those who need to attend appointments because of a life-threatening condition. Patients calling 999 for an emergency ambulance will be provided with a face mask, unless this compromises their care; for example, when being given oxygen.

For non-emergency transport to hospital appointments or clinics, patients need to play their part by using their own face covering, over their mouth, nose and chin when on-board our ambulance. The hospital or clinic may also provide a face mask before you leave for your ambulance journey home. Please do not remove it unless asked by our staff. Patients can also help by washing their hands for at least 20 second before leaving their home or hospital to get into an ambulance.

Currently, our transport services are prioritised for the following patients:

  • Patients who have been discharged and need to be transported from one care setting to another, or home, if there is no alternative means of transport.
  • Patients suspected of having COVID-19 who need to attend ongoing care appointments and have no access to private travel.
  • Patients with life-sustaining care needs who need to attend a care setting, such as for dialysis, and have no access to private travel.
  • Patients defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 who need to attend ongoing care appointments and have no access to private travel.
    • High risk patients include organ transplant recipients and people with specific cancers, severe respiratory conditions, rare diseases and those on immunosuppression therapies, and women who are pregnant and have significant congenital heart disease.
    • A detailed list is available on the gov.uk website.

 

Patient Safety and Staff Wellbeing

To minimise the risk of infection, staff and volunteers supporting the transport of patients with confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 are following NHS guidance on use of personal protective equipment and decontamination of vehicles. Non-essential persons are not able to travel with a patient. This includes family members and relatives of patients, unless they are also acting as carer. Parents or guardians must accompany children under 18.

 

Attending non-essential appointments

When NEAS receives a booking for patient transport, we only know the destination clinic and not the treatment the patient is receiving. This means when a patient contacts NEAS to book transport, if their clinic is not on the essential clinic list, we can only direct the patient back to the hospital. A list of essential treatments is listed on the gov.uk website.

The hospital is the arbitrator of a patient’s need for transport as they will be aware of the patient’s treatment and condition. Any patient requesting transport not going to a listed essential clinic will be referred to the hospital for their consideration as to whether transport should be provided. In these circumstances, the hospital will contact us directly.

This arrangement has been working well. We have been able to accommodate all the additional transport requests made by hospitals up to now.

Resuming transport to non-essential appointments in the future

Social distancing guidelines do not allow us to carry more than one patient on board an ambulance. This has significantly reduced the capacity we have to carry patients and means we are not able to resume all our services now. We are working with all the hospitals and clinical commissioning groups in the North East region to plan how we can extend our services beyond the current list of prioritised patients. Please contact your clinic or hospital to discuss transport in the first instance.

Annual Report 2019/20

Our Annual Report for the financial year 2019-20 is out now. Have a look to see what we’ve been up to, what people told us about their experiences of NHS, health and social care and how we made a difference to people in Northumberland.

 

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2019/20.

Ashington GP surgery to close

GP practice contract ended due to quality of care concerns

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has made the decision to close a GP practice 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 will be notified of the decision, in writing, from today and will also be advised that they have been automatically registered with one of six GP practices as close to their home as possible.

If a patient would like to register with another GP practice in their local area, they can do this from when Laburnum Medical Group closes at the end of next month.

Paul Turner, Director of Commissioning and Contracting for NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said“The CCG has worked closely with and supported Laburnum Medical Group, over the past couple of years, to address issues highlighted by the CQC and the CCG. We appreciate that this decision will be concerning and unsettling for patients registered with the practice. Our key priority is always the health and safety of patients.

“We would like to reassure patients that we continue to work closely with Laburnum Medical Group and have put measures and additional support in place to ensure that everyone who needs to access care from the practice, between now and when it closes, can do so safely.

“Another important priority for the CCG is that patients are able to receive GP care as close to home as possible. To ensure this, the CCG team is working with NHS England and Improvement to undertake an exercise to register patients with a new GP practice and to transfer their medical records. We are doing this to ensure patients are registered with a practice without having to visit in person, in light of the current Covid-19 situation.”

Any patients with concerns or issues should contact:

Patients are also being invited to join a Zoom call hosted by Healthwatch Northumberland on Friday 3 July. The Zoom call has been arranged as the CCG is unable to do a face-to-face engagement session in light of Covid-19.

Events

Dementia Services

Join us to chat about dementia services in Northumberland, the services you or someone you care for have used, and what was good or what could be improved.

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

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

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Children and Young People’s Services

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

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

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

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Cancer services: Join our online forum

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Laburnum Surgery closure – online forum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Read more about the closure of Laburnum Surgery

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Share your experiences – join our online forum

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

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

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

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

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Mental Health services: Join our online forum

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

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

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

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

Find out more about our other online forums

 

Unpaid Carers and Mental Health Online Forum

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

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

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

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

 

Find out about our other online forums

 

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

 

SEND: 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 special educational needs and disabilities, 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

 

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

 

Other online forums:

Wednesday 20 May 2.00pm – 3.00pm: Dementia Services.

Wednesday 27 May 2.00 – 3.00pm: Adult Social Services (to include support to live independently, care homes, learning disability services).