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What to expect when waiting for care

Waiting for planned medical care or surgery can be a frustrating time. That’s why it’s so important that while you wait, you get regular, clear and accessible updates so that you can plan your next steps.

If you or a loved one is waiting for care, read the information from Healthwatch England below to find out what healthcare staff should be doing when contacting you.

Communications from healthcare staff should:

Be personalised to you and not just a generic response

When you’re contacted by healthcare staff about your upcoming appointment, they should provide honest information about your next steps. You must be made aware of realistic timescales and what to expect while you wait so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment.

Put you at ease around safety concerns regarding COVID-19

Significant steps have been taken to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission while in hospitals. But, if you have any concerns about your safety while in hospital, you should be given contact details to discuss these concerns with a healthcare professional.

Use clear language

When healthcare staff contact you, the language they use should be clear, accessible and easy to understand – whether that’s by letter, email or on the phone. Of course, sometimes technical terms are needed, but these should always be explained to you first.

Share their decision making

You should be part of the conversation when decisions around your health are being made. Healthcare staff should support you to make the right decisions for you and outline the risks and benefits of going ahead with, cancelling or delaying your procedure.

Be transparent around delays and cancellations

When contacted regarding a delay or cancellation to your appointment, you should be provided with a clear reason and information about what happens next. Healthcare professionals must be open and honest with you and give a realistic timescale when you should expect to hear from them again. Further support should be provided to you to help you manage your condition whilst waiting for care. This could be information about or access to other health and care services, or access to pain relief. Above all, it should be clear who you should contact if your condition deteriorates. Your safety should always be the priority.

If you are waiting for an operation and this gets cancelled for a non-clinical reason on the day you were due for surgery, your hospital should offer you another fixed date within 28 days or fund your treatment at a date and hospital of your choice.

Be in your preferred way of communication

Information around your upcoming care should be easy to access and provide you with the option to ask questions. It’s essential that you receive information in they way you prefer. This can often be via phone but alternative options should be available for anyone with specific language or communication needs.

 

Tell us your story – We want to know if you’re getting the advice, information and support you need while you wait. Get in touch to share your experience.

Northumberland Pride

Northumberland Pride 2021

This year’s Northumberland Pride event takes place at People’s Park, Ashington on Saturday 28 August. The event will be ticketed for the first time, to make sure that it can go ahead in a Covid-safe way.

Kicking off at 11.00am the day will include live entertainment, a Health and Wellbeing Zone in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, and a Children, Young People and Families Area in partnership with regional charity NE Youth.

We will once again have a Healthwatch Northumberland stall, so come and see us and tell us your care experiences. Plus you could win a prize or take home a goodie bag.

Book tickets

GP online services

Click and Connect: GP Online Services Report

GP online services can cover a range of different functions, for example, booking appointments online, ordering repeat prescriptions and viewing medical records, test results and medicines. Many people find it more convenient to register for online services rather than having to rely on telephone or in person contact with their surgery. This has been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic, due to social distancing restrictions.

We were contacted by someone who told us about the difficulties they had experienced trying to register for GP services online. They found the process complicated, particularly as they were asked to visit the practice in person with ID, in the middle of the pandemic. We decided to do some work to look at how people in Northumberland could register for online services at GP practices across the county.

Click and Connect: GP Online Services Report

GP appointments

Top tips to get the most out of your GP appointment

One of the main things we hear from the public is getting a GP appointment can be tricky. And when you do get an appointment, the time you get to talk to your doctor can be limited. Healthwatch England has pulled together some top suggestions to help you make the most of your appointment slot.

These suggestions will help you feel prepared for your appointment and make the most of the time you have with your GP.

Read Top tips to get the most out of your GP appointment

If you would like to tell us about your recent experience of a GP appointment you can Tell us your Story here.

Keep wearing a mask in healthcare settings

Covid restrictions after 19 July

NHS health teams across the region are set to continue with the current pandemic safety measures for the foreseeable future to help protect everyone from infections such as Covid-19 and flu.

The safety measures introduced nationally during the pandemic have helped not only protect staff, patients and visitors over the past year, but enabled the NHS to continue providing many of the non-urgent services that would otherwise have been postponed.

Healthcare settings across Northumberland are asking for patients and visitors to continue wearing a face covering after 19 July. This includes GP practices, hospitals, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies.

Staff, patients and visitors will also be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules and wash their hands regularly when visiting any health or social care setting.
These measures can help you protect yourself and other people and prevent the spread of infection. This will help keep services open and limit any disruption.
While the government roadmap plans to remove measures like this from everyday life from 19 July it’s vital that the public can be confident about accessing or visiting local healthcare services safely.
Recovery College

Latest wellbeing sessions from Northumberland Recovery College

Northumberland Recovery College is offering a range of free courses and workshops to support people with their mental health and wellbeing.

What is a recovery college?

A recovery college is not a building or a place, it’s an opportunity to become your own expert in what works to manage your wellbeing. The college provides learning experiences, mutual support, and activities at a pace that is right for you.

Details of upcoming sessions are below and will take place via Zoom. To book a place please email: nrc@mentalhealthconcern.org.uk or text 07515 326 750.

All On Board Families: Starts Thursday 10 June, 1pm-3pm. A series of 10 live interactive workshops to support parents of neurodivergent children to better understand their child’s brain, emotions and behaviours.

Collage Workshop – Bellwether Project: Friday 11 June, 10am-11.30am. Join artists Trish and Nick from INSTAR for a fun and creative workshop exploring collage.

Useful Apps for Visually Impaired People: Tuesday 15 June, 11.30am-12.30pm or Tuesday 22 June, 2pm-3pm. Discover apps that can help if you or someone you know has a visual impairment.

Listening Workshop: Wednesday 16 June, 10am-12pm. Providing support to families by developing listening skills.

Assertiveness Workshop: Wednesday 23 June, 10am-12pm. A workshop to help you understand assertive behaviour and develop a sense of self-awareness and self-esteem.

Ways to Wellness Taster Session: Tuesday 29 June, 2pm-3pm. Centered around the five ways to wellbeing, this session will encourage you to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Anger Awareness Workshop: Wednesday 30 June, 10am-12pm. This session will help you to understand anger and provide you with strategies to use when dealing with anger.

View all June sessions

Find out more about Northumberland Recovery College.

Mental Health Support and Services

Felton and Widdrignton surgery proposals

Proposed changes at Felton and Widdrington surgeries

Changes are planned at the Felton and Widdrington surgeries and patients have 12 weeks to give their views and ideas on the proposals. If you are a patient of either surgery you should have received a letter and an information sheet explaining the proposals and how you can share your views.

Healthwatch Northumberland is supporting the surgeries by holding two online engagement sessions via Zoom for patients who would like to discuss any concerns or ask a question.

The sessions will take place on Wednesday 9 June at 2.00pm-3.00pm and Thursday 17 June at 6.00pm-7.00pm.

This is an opportunity to give your views on the following:

  1. The proposal to merge both Felton and Widdrington surgeries
  2. The practice’s plan for a new surgery in Felton and the permanent relocation to these premises at a later date
  3. The potential temporary relocation to Widdrington Surgery should the practice need to move out of Felton, before the new build is complete.

Please email helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk if you wish to attend and an invitation will be sent.

If you can’t make these sessions there are other ways you can get in touch:

  1. Write to the practice manager and mark it ‘Engagement Feedback’ – the address can be found at the top of your letter.
  2. Contact the practice manager by email at Felton.Surgery@nhs.net or Widdrington.Surgery@nhs.net with the title ‘Engagement Feedback’
  3. Ask the reception team at either practice for a feedback form. This can be filled out anonymously if you wish. You do not need to give any personal information if you choose not to.
  4. Contact Healthwatch Northumberland, the statutory independent champion for patients on 03332 408 468 (local call rate) or email info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk.

The surgery will write a report based on this feedback in the late summer. The report will form part of the formal application to the Primary Care Commissioning Committee which will meet in August to decide if the proposals can go ahead.

Young woman talking to counsellor

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies is a national programme offering primary care talking therapies to those experiencing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. The local service in Northumberland is called Talking Matters Northumberland (TMN) and it offers services to those over the age of 16.

TMN offers approved therapies for a wide range of difficulties including depression, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, health anxiety, panic disorder, stress, sleeping problems, bereavement/loss and relationship difficulties.

This survey is for Northumberland residents who have used these services or may need them in the future. The results of the survey will help NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to understand what is working well and what needs to improve.

The deadline for responses is 11 June 2021.

Complete the survey here

 

Dementia activities and support in West Northumberland

Activities and support for older people and those affected by dementia

The latest edition of ‘Activities and Support in West Northumberland’ for older people and those affected by dementia is out now. This is a comprehensive guide to support groups, classes, film screenings and cafes, singing classes, advice services, physical and sporting activities and lots more including virtual events, telephone friendship, music and radio programmes.

Although some of the activity and support groups listed in this booklet are not able to meet face-to-face at the moment due to the pandemic, several are continuing to provide ongoing support either online, over the phone or through the post. Please contact individual activity providers for up-to-date information.

View and download the digital booklet.

Balancing stones

Spring competition

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter our Spring competition. We received some brilliant photos of the activities you have been doing during lockdown to look after your physical and mental health. Entries included everything from cake baking to crochet to painting sheds!

Congratulations to our winner, David Roe, with his photo of stone balancing in the river at Haltwhistle. He said: “My favourite pastime during lockdown has been stone balancing in the river at Haltwhistle. It teaches me patience, calms my breathing, and proves anything is possible if you try hard enough.”

You can see David’s photo and some of the best entries in the gallery below.

 

Events

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly Drop-in – Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. Just call in or if you’d prefer to make a specific appointment for one of the sessions, please get in touch.

Come and see us at Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth, NE24 1LL on the third Tuesday of the month, 9.45am – 11.45am.

See details of other drop-in sessions

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly Drop-in – Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. Just call in or if you’d prefer to make a specific appointment for one of the sessions, please get in touch.

Come and see us at Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth, NE24 1LL on the third Tuesday of the month, 9.45am – 11.45am.

See details of other drop-in sessions

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly Drop-in – Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. Just call in or if you’d prefer to make a specific appointment for one of the sessions, please get in touch.

Come and see us at Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth, NE24 1LL on the third Tuesday of the month, 9.45am – 11.45am.

Please note December’s drop-in has moved to the first week of the month due to the centre being closed for Christmas.

See details of other drop-in sessions

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly Drop-in – Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. Just call in or if you’d prefer to make a specific appointment for one of the sessions, please get in touch.

Come and see us at Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth, NE24 1LL on the third Tuesday of the month, 9.45am – 11.45am.

See details of other drop-in sessions

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly Drop-in – Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. Just call in or if you’d prefer to make a specific appointment for one of the sessions, please get in touch.

Come and see us at Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth, NE24 1LL on the third Tuesday of the month, 9.45am – 11.45am.

See details of other drop-in sessions

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly online drop-in

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. If you can’t make one of the drop-in sessions or would prefer to speak to us via Zoom, please come along to our monthly online drop-in. We may invite special guests to talk about specific issues and services to some of these online sessions, so keep an eye on the website and social media for details.

Online Zoom drop-in: Second Friday of the month, 1.00pm – 2.00pm.

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 873 4740 6445

Passcode: 604994

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly online drop-in

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. If you can’t make one of the drop-in sessions or would prefer to speak to us via Zoom, please come along to our monthly online drop-in. We may invite special guests to talk about specific issues and services to some of these online sessions, so keep an eye on the website and social media for details.

Online Zoom drop-in: Second Friday of the month, 1.00pm – 2.00pm.

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 873 4740 6445

Passcode: 604994

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly online drop-in

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. If you can’t make one of the drop-in sessions or would prefer to speak to us via Zoom, please come along to our monthly online drop-in. We may invite special guests to talk about specific issues and services to some of these online sessions, so keep an eye on the website and social media for details.

Online Zoom drop-in: Second Friday of the month, 1.00pm – 2.00pm.

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 873 4740 6445

Passcode: 604994

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly online drop-in

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. If you can’t make one of the drop-in sessions or would prefer to speak to us via Zoom, please come along to our monthly online drop-in. We may invite special guests to talk about specific issues and services to some of these online sessions, so keep an eye on the website and social media for details.

Online Zoom drop-in: Second Friday of the month, 1.00pm – 2.00pm.

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 873 4740 6445

Passcode: 604994

Monthly drop-ins

Monthly online drop-in

Each month we’ll be holding drop-in sessions, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-ins are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services and use our Signposting and Information Service. If you can’t make one of the drop-in sessions or would prefer to speak to us via Zoom, please come along to our monthly online drop-in. We may invite special guests to talk about specific issues and services to some of these online sessions, so keep an eye on the website and social media for details.

Online Zoom drop-in: Second Friday of the month, 1.00pm – 2.00pm.

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 873 4740 6445

Passcode: 604994