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Berwick Hospital

Next phase for new Berwick Hospital

The next phase of work to build the new state-of-the-art £30 million hospital in Berwick is to begin.

Work to demolish parts of the old infirmary, which is part of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, will start week commencing Monday June 21 and take around four months to complete.

Buildings that formed parts of the old infirmary, including theatres, the day ward, the reception, outbuildings and the energy centre will be demolished in a methodical and carefully managed sequence to take into consideration the archaeological work that continues on site.

Sir James Mackey, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s CEO, said “It is fantastic that we are ready to begin the next phase of work to build our new hospital. This brings us one step closer to ensuring that those that live in Berwick and the surrounding areas will have access to higher quality healthcare in an environment that enables innovative and progressive care and also improves patient experience and wellbeing.

“I am extremely proud that we are finally building our new hospital in Berwick and of the significant positive impact it will have. This is not only in relation to being able to have a more integrated approach to care, but also in terms of staff recruitment and retention, improving staff experience, supporting the economy and further opportunities for collaboration and partnership working. I would like to thank everyone involved in the project for helping us to reach this very important milestone.”

Berwick Infirmary dates back nearly 150 years and the fabric of the buildings to be demolished may contain aspergillus, a mould that can affect those with underlying health conditions and a weakened immune system. This mould can cause an infection which affects the respiratory system.

Patient safety always has to be the top priority for the trust and to ensure patient safety and wellbeing it will be necessary to temporarily stop admitting patients to stay overnight at the infirmary while this demolition work is carried out.

Patients that would usually be admitted to Berwick Infirmary will be cared for at Alnwick Infirmary or in space the trust is hoping to secure at a local care home in Berwick (subject to CQC registration). Patients at the care home will be looked after by the Berwick Infirmary team. Where a patient is cared for will depend on their clinical need and the trust will provide transport if needed.

Oncology and some ambulatory care services will also need to temporarily relocate to Alnwick Infirmary for around four months. Patient transport will be provided if required.

All minor injury unit (MIU), maternity and other outpatient department services will remain at Berwick Infirmary and the MIU will remain open overnight.

Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and project lead, said “I am thrilled that we are even closer to building our new hospital which is going to benefit our patients, staff and the local community in so many ways. We appreciate that having to temporarily relocate some of the services is not ideal, but we have worked very hard to look at options that keep these services either in or as close to Berwick as possible.

“Over the coming days and weeks, we will work closely with staff affected and we will be as flexible as we can be and also support staff as much as we can during this temporary period. The plan is that the majority of staff will continue to do their roles in Berwick. Only a small number, who already work at both Alnwick and Berwick Infirmaries, will need to spend more time working at Alnwick.

“I have been involved with this project for many years, and as a local Berwick resident I know how important having this new hospital is to people. It is hoped that the archaeological work will be completed by the end of the year and that construction work will begin in spring next year. We will of course continue to keep all of our stakeholders updated on a regular basis.”

Once this phase of demolition work is complete, services that have been temporarily relocated will move back to the Infirmary – this will include reopening the inpatient ward.

To enable the ward to be reopened and for patients to continue receiving overnight hospital care in Berwick, measures will be put in place to protect patients from noise, vibration and dust as much as possible.

These will include moving patient beds to the opposite side of the ward from where construction work will take place and installing soundproofing and ventilation.

Marion Dickson continued “Our team has worked incredibly hard to ensure that we keep as many of the services as we can in Berwick, which is a positive step. To ensure we have the space we need, we will have to temporarily reduce the number of beds on the ward to 16 until our new hospital is built and hope to be able to continue to use the relocated beds at the local care home during this time – keeping this vital hospital service in Berwick.”

AGM draft minutes and Q&As

The draft minutes from our AGM in October, plus answers to many of the questions raised before and during the event can be found below.

Questions for Healthwatch Northumberland

Q:  My husband has multiple health conditions. Since March, paramedics have been called four times (via NHS 111/999 or GP). We have been told consistently that they would not take him to hospital, e.g. for a high temperature. Are paramedics instructed to routinely give this message, consequently deterring people from seeking help? We know from past experience when his breathing is normal for him, but cause for concern, and when he is deteriorating and likely to require intervention.

This whole experience leaves us feeling it is wrong to call for help. This is exacerbated by other consultations (GP and hospital) which feel ineffectual for a person with multiple comorbidities.

A: North East Ambulance Service said:

The staff who answer 111/999 calls are not routinely instructed to inform patients that they would not take him to hospital. Each individual is assessed in their own right and the context of their presenting symptoms. If an individual is identified as needing hospital access then we would recommended that. Where an individual can safely be transferred to hospital without ambulance intervention that will be recommended. This saves ambulances for those people where there is an absolute need to transport the patient with supported care on route.

During the period since March 2020 we have had different thresholds for answering calls depending on how severe COVID-19 has been. Things may change in times of high demand and depending on the changing government guidance as we learn more about the virus.

On some occasions we have advised people not to access hospital care, the outbreak of COVID19 meant hospitals may not be the same safe environment for people with weak immune systems as they were previously. In these cases, where care could safely and effectively be given at home that would be recommended.

Q: Why have mammograms for women over 71 been stopped with no indication of when they will start again. Newcastle Hospitals advised there is only a four month backlog.  I have booked a private appointment. Also have GP surgeries been told to stop advertising the service.

A: This question has been submitted to Newcastle Hospital Trust and we will publish the answer as soon as we have it.

Q: I have seen that Being Woman charity gives out devices to people to access digital services. Is this service only for black, Asian and minority ethnic people or can anyone in Northumberland also access their service to get digital devices. One of my acquaintances in Amble has one and she was guided to connect up to GP services.

A: Thank you for your feedback and query around Being Woman. If you are looking for support around digital skills or would like to have a device to access digital resources we recommend you get in touch with them directly, either through their website: www.being-woman.org.uk contact them on 01670 857167.

Live questions:

Q: Where would I find more details about the Healthwatch Northumberland vacancy? Will there be a link available?

A: Derry answered. Yes we will make the link to our website available after the event or you can email info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk to find out more.

Q: Do you have a view about the recent Look North feature about designated care home dementia spaces?

A: Derry answered. This is a policy decision and we don’t have a view in advance of the patient/carer experience but we are keen to find out more and hear from people about this if it is implemented.

Q: Are there any Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) plans to communicate the Primary Care Network plan to the wider community?

A: Derry answered. HWN is always keen on how issues, changes and developments are communicated to the wider service user group so we will put this to the CCG and publish the answer.

 

Questions for our guest speakers from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Alistair Blair and Judith Stonebridge, Public Health Consultant

Q: How accessible is digital in healthcare for the visually impaired, and have they been consulted and involved in the planning on digital healthcare? In addition, a lot of self-care promotion is on digital and this adds to health inequalities.

A: Judith answered. This is a really important question and definitely needs to be considered. The pandemic meant a rapid change overnight and there wasn’t much time for engagement, but we are doing that now and are keen to work with Northumberland County Blind Association. A significant amount of appointments are by telephone rather than computer so this may help and face-to-face appointments are still available if appropriate. We are keen to be as inclusive as possible, not just with appointments but with materials too.

Alistair added in regard to the self-care resources that digital resources are in addition to existing materials. Nothing has been taken away, talking books and Braille resources are still available.

Q: Are there any hospital sites or GP practices providing virtual group clinics in Northumberland? There are many patients who attended face to face group clinics who are now isolated and unsupported because of Covid.

A: Alistair answered. We need to separate group support, group education and group consultation. At present none are happening because it hasn’t been possible to get multiple people on to a secure platform. Zoom doesn’t meet the secure standards of the NHS. We’re looking into how group support and education could be delivered but it is harder to provide group consultations as there are issues with confidentiality. There is no way of knowing whether someone is recording the session. However, there are definitely opportunities here.

Q: What about increasing digital engagement and capacity building to facilitate digital engagement, especially those most at risk of poor health outcomes?

A: Judith answered. She said this is an issue which was discussed pre-Covid and inspired her to think about how people experiencing financial difficulties might not differentiate between letters in plain white envelopes from the NHS and elsewhere. There are plans to try to understand why people are not coming to appointments and what is preventing access. The pilots for the community hubs should help people develop digital skills. The Trust is also trying to make the language clearer on any letters sent out and will keep looking at data to help make improvements.

Q: Younger people might find digital engagement difficult if home is not a safe place or in cases of domestic abuse. How sensitive are services to these issues and how will it be addressed?

A: Alistair answered. There is a higher rate of mobile phone ownership and usage among young people. This is quite empowering as it is easier to make a quick call away from home rather than attend a face-to-face appointment which may be difficult if living with a controlling person. There are ways which people can signal over video if they are being threatened. The greater worry is that there are people who aren’t accessing health services at all.

Q: I recognise the value of digital consultation but it is still necessary to have face-to-face appointments. Can you reassure people digital appointments are not going to be the poor relation?

A: Alistair answered. If you need to examine someone you can only really do that by physical contact. People shouldn’t think of remote consultation as second class. It’s often just as good for information and sharing as face-to-face and the same amount of time for the clinician. It’s about choosing the right tool for the job.

Q: What about those practices who don’t have video links? Is connectivity in GP practices an issue?

A: Alistair answered. 90% of remote consultations are over the phone and all practices have phones. Every practice is also wired up for video consultations. Connectivity is more of a problem at the patients’ end. Sometimes image quality can be quite poor on video so texting a photo can be clearer.

Q: Is Northumbria Healthcare willing to look at the confidentiality agreements regarding virtual group clinics? There are many examples of virtual group clinics with confidentiality agreements templates in place.

A: The Trust is in discussions with Attend Anywhere (the system we use for virtual consultations) and they have confirmed they are planning to introduce a module for group consultations.  They are hoping to have something in development this year with a plan to introduce next year.  We are also looking into Microsoft Teams to see if this could be an option.  We would be interested to see an example of one of these confidentiality agreements and what platform is being used.

 

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM 21 October 2020 draft minutes

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.”

Nurse talking to a man in a hospital

Become the heartbeat of your local NHS

If you’re passionate about the NHS, then joining Northumbria HealthcareNHS Foundation Trust as a member will give you the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas about the way the trust delivers care to over half a million people across Northumberland and North Tyneside.  Northumbria Healthcare is a forward thinking organisation and at the forefront of pioneering changes in the NHS, so it’s a great time to join.

You can be involved as much or as little as you like, from simply receiving e-newsletters and voting papers to donating your time as a volunteer or standing for election to become a trust governor. It is free to become a member and you can opt out at any time.

To join please complete the short online membership form.

 

 

 

Northumbria Hospital

Accident and Emergency at The Northumbria

This month we’re working with Healthwatch North Tyneside to find out more about why people go to the A & E department at The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital. We will have an information stand in the waiting room at various times over the next few weeks and will be asking patients to answer a few questions about their visit.

Healthwatch staff and volunteers will be asking people about their experiences of the A & E department and why they are choosing to use this service. The information given to us will remain anonymous. We will share a summary of the responses we receive with the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and use the information to help understand what is working well and what can be done differently.

Change is in the Air graphic

National No Smoking Day – go Smoke Free

Wednesday 14 March 2018 is National No Smoking Day and with all NHS buildings going Smoke Free by the end of the month, this is a good opportunity to make use of all the help on offer to quit for good. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust says that in order to provide a cleaner, safer environment that promotes good health and reduces harm from exposure to secondhand smoke, all local hospitals in North Tyneside and Northumberland will be completely smokefree from 2018. This means that smoking will not be permitted in buildings, grounds or vehicles and all smoking areas will be removed.

 

Northumbria Healthcare’s website has these FAQs and answers:

Why is Northumbria Healthcare going smokefree?

Smoking is the leading cause of premature death in the UK. Exposure to secondhand smoke also causes disease and premature death among non-smokers and even brief exposure can cause immediate harm. As an NHS organisation, we have a duty to protect and care for both the health and wellbeing of our staff and patients who are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. Going smokefree reflects our commitment and responsibility for improving health and wellbeing.

Why are smoking shelters being removed?

Having designated smoking areas, including smoking shelters on our sites, implies that we actively support smoking. People who smoke within the smokefree boundaries will be asked to extinguish their cigarette or move outside of the smokefree boundaries.

How will staff support patients who smoke?

We know that lots of smokers want support to stop and that refraining from smoking can be very difficult. Smokers are four times more likely to stop smoking with NHS support and the use of nicotine replacement. Patients who are admitted to one of our hospitals will be offered medication/nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of patches and inhalator, as well as a referral for ongoing support. We will also provide advice on how and where to access services and support to stop smoking for those attending as
outpatients.

What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are devices that deliver nicotine via inhaled vapour. They do not contain tobacco, so the user is not exposed to poisonous gases that are in tobacco smoke and are reported to be up to 95% less harmful than cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not expose others to the harmful effects associated with second hand smoke. The trust allows the use of e-cigarettes in the grounds but not inside of buildings. These devices work well on their own or can be used alongside NRT. Having support from a trained stop smoking adviser alongside the use of NRT and/or e-cigarettes greatly increases your chances of success in quitting.

If you need help quitting then call the Northumberland Stop Smoking Service: 01670 813 135 or the NHS National Smoking Helpline: 0300 123 1044.

Norovirus advice

Norovirus restricts visitors at county’s hospitals

Update: 2 January 2018

As of today, it is expected that visitor restrictions will be partially lifted for unaffected wards with full restrictions still in place on affected wards. Please check this page for the latest news – an update can be expected at approximately 11:00 each day.
Visitor restrictions have been applied across affected Northumbria Healthcare sites in order to contain an ongoing norovirus outbreak. Affected sites include Wansbeck General, North Tyneside General and The Northumbria (Cramlington).
norovirus is a highly infectious virus that can easily be spread from person to person. Unfortunately, people can spread this virus before their symptoms start. Therefore visitors may inadvertently bring norovirus into the hospitals. Typically norovirus causes diarrhoea & vomiting illness which generally lasts 48 hours with no long-term effects. However, patients in hospital are particularly susceptible to having severe illness which can be extremely debilitating. For this reason, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is asking for your co-operation to not visit your relative/friends until the norovirus outbreaks have resolved. Restrictions will not apply to patients receiving end of life care. If you are in any doubt, please contact the relevant ward directly or contact the switchboard on 0344 811 8111. More information on norovirus
Wansbeck General Hospital

24 hour urgent care to return to Northumberland

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust announced today that the urgent care centres at Wansbeck and Hexham General Hospitals would re-open overnight from 30 October. This will bring to an end the temporary overnight closures (between 12.00am and 8.00am) which have been in place since September last year. North Tyneside General Hospital will continue to close at midnight.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Like the rest of the NHS, we are once again preparing for an extremely busy time this winter and fully endorse the NHS recommendation to call 111 before visiting any of our urgent care centres or our emergency department.

Calling 111, which is free and available 24/7, is the best way to get the treatment you need in the quickest way and will also include access to urgent GP appointments this winter.

“It is vital that The Northumbria hospital in Cramlington is kept free for serious emergencies only and we have worked hard to re-open our urgent care centres overnight for conditions which are not life-threatening but need an urgent response. We hope this news will be welcomed by patients.”

Healthwatch Northumberland was asked to engage with the public about their views on the temporary night time closures and what the public understood about urgent care centres and where to access treatment. The results were considered as part of the decision making process.

Events

Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group

Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group meeting

The Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group would like your help to make cancer services for patients and carers in Northumberland and North Tyneside better. Come and help to get the patient voice heard and make a real difference.

Meetings are held every four to six weeks at Wansbeck, Hexham or North Tyneside general hospitals. The group aims to:

• represent patient and carer views
• work with other organisations
• liaise with health professionals
• talk with local cancer support groups
• carry out five senses surveys from a patient carer perspective on areas used by cancer patients during their cancer journey
• represent the cancer patient voice across Northumberland and North Tyneside
• suggest ways of improving services
• review the patient comments given on the national patient survey and take forward any items where we feel we can help make an improvement.

The next Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Support Group meeting takes place on Tuesday 9 January at Wansbeck General Hospital. For further information contact Chris Walker on 07817515265 or email ncpcg@ciani.plus.com.

Read the Northumbria Cancer Patient and Carer Group Information Leaflet