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Patient Transport Services Update

Please see below the latest update 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.

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.

Understanding Patient Participation Groups

Healthwatch Northumberland commissioned research to help it understand how the Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) associated with the 41 GP practices in Northumberland currently work, their aspirations and challenges and the relationship they want to have individually and collectively not only with Healthwatch Northumberland but also the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Primary Care Networks (PCN) and local community and voluntary groups. We also wanted to understand how we and PPGs can most effectively communicate and exchange information and views and how this can be used for the benefit of patients, their families and carers.

The research has identified several key areas where further discussion or action would help PPGs develop in a way that is appropriate for them. The recommendations at the end of the report form an agenda for those discussions and provide Healthwatch Northumberland with a series of actions we want to consider.

The research shows that PPGs want to engage with patients, with Healthwatch Northumberland and with the wider health community but for some this is difficult. PPGs see real benefits in engaging more widely and collaborating with others to improve the patient experience. Some PPGs would like to network and engage on a countywide basis whilst others would prefer to do this at a PCN level. This desire to collaborate must be nurtured by Healthwatch Northuberland and must be extended to include the CCG and the GP practices it commissions. There is a real opportunity for a partnership approach to help support PPGs and improve the patient experience and we will play a pivotal role in this.

The research also highlights several areas of challenge for PPGs. The key areas are:

• Recruitment and retention of members who are representative of the Practice Population and who are able to understand and represent the patient perspective and work with the practice to create improvements to service

• Engagement with patients and with the Practice to gather feedback in a meaningful way and to collaborate with the practice to use this feedback to best effect

• Time and to a lesser extent cost – to travel to meetings, to attend meetings at a time that is suitable and to contribute effectively both within and outside the meetings

51% of the PPGs in Northumberland completed the survey that formed the basis of the research and a further 4 provided information during telephone calls meaning HWN heard from 61% of the PPG population during the research period. One of the challenges for HWN is how it engages with the whole PPG community, particularly those who opted not to engage this time.

As PCNs develop, the role of the PPG will become more pivotal because these networks will need to understand the patient perspective and identify how they can develop services that, among other things, improve population health. Healthwatch Northumberland, along with the CCG, will have a role to play supporting both the PCNs and the PPGs. To be most effective we will need to ensure robust relationships with the CCG, PCNs and PPGs.

The report provides recommendations that are set in the context of the aims of the research and focus on the aspirations and challenges faced by PPGs and the way in which Healthwatch Northumberland can best engage to help address these.

Understanding Patient Participation Groups – read the full report.

Public invited to have say on plans for new Berwick hospital

Update 22 April 2020: 

The deadline for residents to look at and comment on proposals for the new Berwick hospital has been extended to 5.00pm on Monday 27 April. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has extended the consultation to give people as much opportunity as possible to see them before the planning application is submitted.

 

People in Berwick are being given another opportunity to see plans for a new £25million hospital in the town.

Following community engagement last month, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is inviting the public to view the proposals on a new website – www.berwickcommunityhospital.co.uk – before the planning application is submitted. The trust had intended to hold a drop-in session in the town, however, this is now not possible due to the current government restrictions.

On the website, people will be able to look at the plans for the new development on the existing Berwick Infirmary site and make comments before the consultation closes at 5.00pm on Monday 20 April 2020. People without access to the internet can telephone 0191 261 5685. The hoardings around the area where the new hospital is set to be built are being erected and the winning images from the trust’s photography competition will go on display in due course.

Marion Dickson, executive director for nursing, midwifery, allied health professionals, surgery and community services at Northumbria Healthcare, is leading the Berwick redevelopment project.

She said “Whilst dealing with the evolving coronavirus situation must be the trust’s top priority, building our new Berwick hospital remains an important project for us and we’re very keen to keep it on track.

“Circumstances have meant that we’ve had to change the way we’re carrying out the next stage of the process with an online consultation rather than a drop-in session for the public. However, please be assured that people will have the same amount of information and a telephone number is available if residents have difficulty accessing the internet.

“We were very pleased to see so many people at our drop-in sessions at the Town Hall last month and that the response we had was hugely positive. We fully appreciate that these are unsettling times however we’d urge people to log on, if they’d like to, and view the updated plans and let us know their views.”

The new hospital will re-provide all the existing services and embrace the latest technology. It is planned that Well Close Medical Group will be part of the new development which will pave the way for further integration between primary care (the GPs) and secondary care (the hospital).

The resurfacing of the car park next to maternity is complete and next to the minor injuries unit is now the only way to access the hospital, as the number of entrances have been reduced across the trust to help further reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Marion added “These are extremely challenging times for everyone working in the NHS. I would like to say thank you and express how very proud I am of our Northumbria family for the passion and dedication our staff are showing every single day to care for our patients.”

Changes to how we operate

We are following government advice and guidelines in light of the coronavirus outbreak and have made changes to the way we operate. We have postponed all of the community events we had planned and from Monday 23 March our staff will be mainly working from home. We are still very much open for business, so if you want to give us feedback on a service you’ve used, or if you are looking for information on local health or support for a particular issue, you can call our signposting service. Get in touch on 03332 408468 or email info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk.

Our board meeting scheduled for 24 March will not physically take place, but our board members are very much working away in the background and discussing future plans for Healthwatch Northumberland.

We will keep you updated with our plans on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages as things develop nationally.

Latest NHS coronavirus guidance

Quarterly Report October – December 2018

As independent champion for people who use health and social care services, we listen to your experiences of using these services.  This report shares the themes from the feedback we received between 1 October to 31 December 2018.

We receive feedback and enquiries by:

  • Talking to people at local community events
  • Telephone calls, emails and social media
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups on specific issues

Healthwatch Northumberland is open to all feedback about health and social care services but respondents to our Annual Survey identified five priorities for specific focus these are mental health services, dementia care services, home care, GP services and access to services.

Between October and December 2018 we had 98 individual pieces of unsolicited feedback and we spoke with approximately 530 people face to face. We attended flu clinics at GP practices in Tynedale, North Northumberland and Castle Morpeth, talking to a wide range of older residents and those with long term conditions and learning disabilities. We were at Morpeth, Berwick, Prudhoe, and Widdrington libraries during Library Week. We also attended “Winter Warmer” and SEND events, the Carers’ Rights
Day at Berwick and spoke at the Belford Parish Council and the Belford Practice Patient Participation Group.

Read the October to December 2018 report in full.

 

Speak Up

Speak up! about your health & social care services

We would really like to hear about your experiences of health and social care in Northumberland over the last year through our annual survey. This can be as a patient or carer. Knowing what is important to you helps us to work more effectively on your behalf. Your views will be shared anonymously and stored in line with data protection regulations. You could also be in with a chance of winning a £25 Marks & Spencer when you take the time to tell us about your experiences.

Thank you for your support us as we ensure the health and social care needs of the people of Northumberland are heard, understood and met by those responsible for commissioning and delivering services.

 

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO LEAVE YOUR FEEDBACK

 

Bottle of tablets

Patient Online

The Patient Online service gives you immediate access to your GP practice, 24 hours a day. It can cut out queues at reception or on the telephone and help you take more control of your health and wellbeing, or that of someone you care for.

The service allows you to book or cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view some of your patient records, including test results and immunisation history.

If you, or someone you care for has a condition that requires regular medication, then you can also take advantage of the Electronic Prescription Service. Reduce the number of times you need to contact or visit your GP practice even more by nominating a pharmacy of your choice, where your repeat prescriptions will be sent electronically by your GP. This can be a pharmacy near to where you live, work or shop.

These services are free of charge and you can register at your surgery by taking along some identification. More information can be found on the NHS Choices website about both Patient Online and the Electronic Prescription Service.

Alternatively if you already know how to use the internet, you can take a short course on how to start using GP services.

 

Events

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

 

Listening Event: Annual Survey Blyth Sports Centre

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home. You can feed back as a patient or carer.

By telling us about the care you received you can help us set our work for the coming year so that we can be more effective on your behalf.

Let us know what’s important to you, what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event: Annual Survey Blyth Library

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home. You can feed back as a patient or carer.

By telling us about the care you received you can help us set our work for the coming year so that we can be more effective on your behalf.

Let us know what’s important to you, what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event: Annual Survey Hexham Hospital

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

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

Let us know what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event: Annual Survey Morpeth Riverside

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the NHS, health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

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

Let us know what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event: Annual Survey Wooler

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the NHS, health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

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

Let us know what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

This event is being held in conjunction with Wooler patient participation group.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event: Annual Survey Morpeth Library

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the NHS, health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

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

Let us know what went well and what could be improved, and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event – Annual Survey Haltwhistle Leisure Centre

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the NHS, health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

This event is the Bridge Project Employability Hub so if you’re there it would be great if you have a couple of minutes to talk to us.

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

Let us know what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event: Annual Survey Village Surgery

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the NHS, health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

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

Let us know what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Listening Event: Annual Survey Forum Practice

We are running our annual survey 2020 during February and March this year, asking you about the NHS, health and social care you received in the last 12 months – it might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. Health services include hospital services, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, mental health and ambulance services. Social care is care in the home or in a residential or nursing care home.

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

Let us know what went well and what could be improved and together we can help make care better for everyone in Northumberland.

If you can’t come and see us at one of our events you can share your views via the online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.