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a woman answers questions from another woman with a clipboard outside a hospital

Annual Survey 2019 – Share your Experiences

We would really like to hear about your experiences of health and social care services in Northumberland over the last year, through our annual survey. You can share your thoughts and experiences as a patient or as a carer. Your feedback will help us set our work priorities for the coming year. Knowing what is important to you helps us to work more effectively on your behalf. We can also look at trends and themes year on year, seeing what has changed and what remains important to people.

You could also be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes when you take the time to tell us about your experiences.

We realise there are a lot of surveys out there from organisations asking for your feedback, but this really does help us to find out what matters to people.

Please help us ensure that the health and social care needs of the people of Northumberland are heard, understood and met by those responsible for commissioning and delivering services.

Thank you for your support.

Complete the Annual Survey 2019

Healthwatch graphic with two people

Healthwatch Northumberland Quarterly Report July – September 2018

People who live in Northumberland and who use health and social care services tell Healthwatch Northumberland about their experiences throughout the year. This report shares the themes which emerged from 1 July to 30 September 2018. The next report will cover October to December 2018.

We receive feedback and enquiries from:

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

We are 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 July and September 2018 we had 59 individual pieces of unsolicited feedback and we spoke to 170 people at 32 engagement events.

Read the Report

Annual Report Front Cover

Healthwatch England submits new report to Parliament

In his first annual report to Parliament as Chair of Healthwatch, Sir Robert Francis looks beyond health and social care performance statistics to explore how people are experiencing care day-to-day across England.

Drawing on evidence from 406,567 people, over the last year Healthwatch has looked at what people are saying about GPs and community services, hospitals, social care services and mental health support, as well as issues that are common to all four areas of care (see below).

Over the course of the year, our network shared 2,053 reports with local services and decision makers about the improvements people would like to see.

The collective findings of these stories and reports show a real mix of views, with people continuing to receive outstanding care, much of which people say is down to the dedication shown by the extraordinary staff who keep things running.

However, it is also becoming clear that others struggle to access the support they need, with services not getting the basics of care right. Examples Healthwatch has worked on over the last year include care home residents not being able to see an NHS dentist and hospitals not providing the right information to help prevent patients having to return unnecessarily.

Issues like these require the NHS and social care system to be looked at as a whole rather than focusing on the headline targets for individual parts of the service.

Yet as it stands, services are not always able to spot the gaps between them and the impact this is having on the people they care for.

With the NHS Long Term Plan imminent, and the government’s plans for social care due in the New Year, listening effectively to people needs to become “part of the DNA” of health and care in England. From the beginning of the planning process to the provision of services to individual patients, insight from people need to be used to shape decisions and better track performance.

Healthwatch is doing its part. Since 2014 we have created the health and social care sector’s single biggest source of user insight, gathering more than 1.4 million experiences and views. We have also set a clear goal to step this up further, by reaching a million people a year by 2023.

Encouragingly, those working in health and social care are also using our insight more than ever before, drawing on our evidence and calling on our expertise to engage with communities up and down the country.

The government’s commitment to invest billions more in the NHS provides a rare opportunity to invest for the long-term in a building a culture where staff at all levels work in equal partnership with communities to shape the way services run.

Chair of Healthwatch England, Sir Robert Francis, says,

“The government’s investment of extra billions in our health service gives us a great opportunity to think about how that money should be spent, and how we can track the impact of any changes to ensure they deliver the help people want and need.

“To do this, we want to see people’s experiences of care become part of the very DNA of the decision-making processes throughout the NHS and social care sector.

“I have seen first-hand how a purely target driven culture within the NHS can actually be bad for people’s health, both patients and staff. To focus exclusively on performance measures can leave services with a false belief they are succeeding without any real idea whether people’s care and support needs are being met or where things might need to change.

“Listening to people and learning from their stories is the best way to get the balance right, and to ensure services have the evidence they need to shape care around the real-life needs of those they serve.

“The outstanding efforts of our local Healthwatch teams, supported by more than 5,000 volunteers, have created an evidence base of people’s experiences that is simply unparalleled. What’s more, we can see this insight being used to shape some of the biggest debates in health and care.

“For me, this is just the beginning. Over the next five years, we are looking to create a movement that puts people at the very heart of health and social care. To do this we need people to keep coming forward, keep sharing and help services hear what really matters to them.”

Four common themes

From the hundreds of thousands of stories gathered by Healthwatch in the last year, we have identified four themes which people commonly experience across all services.

  1. Better information to make the right choices
    With the right information, the public is not only empowered to make better decisions about their health and care, but know where to go for help when they need it. However, this information isn’t always available, and when it is, it can be too technical, confusing or difficult to find.
  2. Easier access to support
    Quicker and easier access to health and care services is essential. It can take a long time for people to get the support they need. Many experience delays at every step – from getting an initial appointment, in waiting rooms, and to see a specialist for further treatment. Repeated cancellations also indicate that the NHS doesn’t value people’s time. Technology used correctly offers the potential to alleviate these barriers and provides easier access to services, and to earlier diagnosis.
  3. Improved conversations
    We know people want to be involved in decisions about their treatment and care. Good communication between professionals and the public helps people to be more informed, understand their choices, and manage their expectations. This is particularly important for people with disabilities or people who don’t speak English as a first language.
  4. Well-coordinated services
    Navigating health and social care can be complicated. People want a seamless experience across different services. When services work well together, it not only makes things easier for people but also reduces the risk of serious issues being missed.

Read the full What Matters Most Report 

Download an Easy Read What Matters Most Report

Rothbury Village

Rothbury Hospital – Task and Finish Group

A new group will examine proposals put forward by the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) regarding the future of Rothbury Community Hospital.

The services at the hospital are commissioned by the CCG and in October 2017 the council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) met to consider the proposed closure of the 12 bed inpatient ward at the hospital, with services being shaped around a new health and wellbeing centre on the site.The committee referred the final decision to the Secretary of State for Health. Last month he announced that while the inpatient ward should not be immediately re-opened, further action is required to agree and implement the proposed health and wellbeing centre.

The Minister asked for an update on progress by the end of January 2019.

The council has already pledged to work closely with the local community, Healthwatch Northumberland and the CCG to develop proposals for the hospital over the coming months. Councillor Jeff Watson, who also leads the Health and Wellbeing OSC, will chair the new review group. At the first scoping session it was agreed that the CCG and OSC would fully engage with the community as the health and wellbeing centre is developed, while there is also a joint assessment on the impact of travel, cost and inconvenience for families and carers of those affected by the planned closure.

Councillor Watson said: “As timescales are tight it is important we set up a small working group to ensure progress is made quickly. Although an update is required by the Secretary of State by the end of January we do recognise work will continue beyond then which the OSC will need to monitor and review.”

David Thompson, Chair of Healthwatch Northumberland, added: “We welcome the opportunity to continue our involvement in this crucially important issue for people in the Rothbury area, in our role as independent health and social care champion. We would encourage people to get in touch with us with their ideas and views.”

A meeting of the review group, which the public can attend, will be held in the council chamber at County Hall on 10 December at 9.30am.

Care worker making a meal for elderly lady

Social Care Consultation

Northumberland County Council is asking for views on proposed changes to the council’s charging policy for care and support services.

What is the consultation about?

The council is considering a number of changes to its policy on charging for non-residential care and support services such as such as home care, day care, and “enabling” support to help people to get out and do things in the community.

The changes being considered would mean some people would have to pay more for their care and support services, although changes would affect people in different ways, and some would continue to get services without being charged.

The proposed changes would not affect people who live in a care home.

Why is the council considering these changes?

The council says it expects to have to make budget savings of £36 million over the next three years. In order to make these savings, the council has had to look at every part of its budget to consider whether spending is absolutely necessary, and whether income can be increased.  Social care services for adults account for more than a third of the council’s budget, so it would be very difficult to make the overall savings required without some reductions in spending on adult social care.

More information and the consultation feedback form can be found at the council’s website.

Male doctor talking to a patient

Our Annual Survey Report

2018 Annual Survey

Each year Healthwatch Northumberland asks supporters, residents of Northumberland and wider networks to complete a survey. This year a record 579 people responded giving us a wealth of information about your experiences of health and social care services.

The survey has nine questions about the types of services used, frequency of visits and with the opportunity to leave comments, hundreds of which have been reviewed to help Healthwatch Northumberland to understand what is happening in the county.

This report shares the themes which emerged from the survey.  These have helped us prioritise work for 2018 – 2019.  We also hope that it stimulates debate and conversations between individuals, communities, those who plan and provide our health and social care services.

We will be talking in detail about the findings at our AGM in October – if you’d like to come along you can find out more and register here.

Read the Annual Survey Report 2018

 

View of Berwick town from the bridge

Berwick Hospital Proposals Engagement

As part of the consultation process, Healthwatch Northumberland was asked by NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to hear from certain groups of people about the proposed sites and idea of a joint hospital and leisure centre in Berwick.

We spoke to 90 individuals through activity with a number of local voluntary groups and week long information stands set up in both Wooler and Berwick. People were shown maps of the proposed site locations and asked to choose a preferred location for the new hospital, and if they were in favour of a combined leisure centre and hospital.

Read the full report.

 

Board member talking to member of the public

Board Member Vacancies

Healthwatch Northumberland is looking to appoint up to four new independent volunteer board members who will play an important role in setting and overseeing the county-wide strategy. Please download an application pack and application form or call 03332 408468 for more information or a copy of the pack in the post.

APPLICATION PACK

APPLICATION FORM

It Starts With You logo

#ItStartsWithYou campaign launches in Northumberland

#ItStartsWithYou campaign launches in Northumberland with three stories.  Healthwatch wants thousands more.

A national Healthwatch campaign launches this week to encourage people across the country to share their experiences to help make health and care better for their communities.

Run by the independent health and care champion Healthwatch England, the #ItStartsWithYou campaign returns for a second year. The campaign encourages people to have their say, and highlights the difference that people are already making to health and social care services by sharing their experiences.

An #ItStartsWithYou award celebrates the dedication of people using their voice to make a difference to care of others. Those shortlisted for this award, which will be announced at our annual conference, in October, include:

  • Errol Campbell from Bristol is campaigning and leading an organisation called Friends of Caswell Thompson to raise awareness of the high incidence of prostate cancer in the Afro Caribbean community. Caswell was a close friend of Errol’s, who died from prostate cancer. Errol has spoken at many community events to encourage men to get tested. While one in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lives, for black men it is much worse – one in four will get the disease. Errol and the team at Friends of Caswell Thompson organised the first awareness-raising day last year, getting 135 people involved in workshops, information sessions and personal testimonies. He believes that lives have been saved as some men have had early diagnosis

 

  • Tony Bentley from County Durham tried to find information about care homes when looking for one for his mother and had difficulty finding even basic information. There were no details of CQC ratings, of fees or what services homes provided. His simple internet search turned into a major research project. Thanks to Tony, all care homes with a contract with the county council now have to provide information to a set standard, which is now in the public domain. The public have much more information about the homes available, which helps them make more informed decisions. Tony also helped to develop a best practice website for providers, so they can learn how to improve their own websites.

 

  • Families of Nascot Lawn stopped the closure of Nascot Lawn Respite Service in Watford. The service provides short breaks for children with disabilities and learning difficulties. The families presented evidence to a high court judicial review, and the judge found in their favour. The families argued that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the local authority should work together to decide how they can continue to operate this vital community service. By taking their case to the High Court, the families have had a national impact on the way local services are viewed and funded.

 

In recognition of these dedicated individuals and groups, together with the many thousands more who have contributed over the last year, the #ItStartsWithYou, campaign is designed to highlight the difference people can make by sharing their experiences and to encourage more people to have their say on health and care.

Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, says:

“However big or small the issue, Healthwatch wants to hear about it from you. If it’s important to one person, it’s very likely that it affects other people, too. 

“By sharing your story you can help doctors, dentists, hospitals and care homes understand what’s working and what could be better, for you and your community.

“Its heartening to see a growing culture of people sharing their experiences. It might just feel like your story, but if it matters to you, it matters to us, and it really can make a difference” 

Healthwatch Northumberland Chair David Thompson says:

“With the ‘it starts with you’ initiative we are encouraging the people of Northumberland to tell us about their experiences of health and social care. Such information really does help those who make the decisions about care to improve what is available to patients, their families and friends.”

Onecall

Onecall: The new name for Northumberland Single Point of Access

Keep safe and well with Onecall

If you have a concern about an adult, child or young person who lives in Northumberland, Onecall is the service to call. Onecall brings together adult social care and healthcare staff from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust with Northumberland County Council staff from children’s services, and partners in Northumbria Police and North East Ambulance Service. It aims to help keep vulnerable people safe and well 24-7 by providing help at the earliest opportunity before the situation becomes more serious. For more information visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/onecall and find out more from people who’ve used the service.

 

When do I use it?

Call Onecall for example if you need help with:
  • Living safely and independently at home
  • Looking after someone who is ill or disabled
  • Caring for a child or young person
  • Family support if you are concerned about a child or young person
  • Reporting abuse or neglect of a child or adult
  • Finding alternatives if you can’t live at home
  • Recovering from an illness or injury at home
The Onecall number is: 01670 536400. If you need medical advice and support fast, but it’s not life threatening, call your GP or NHS 111. You should always call 999 in an emergency -for example when someone’s life is at risk or someone is seriously injured or critically ill.

 

 

Events

Two ladies chatting with a clipboard

Annual Survey Drop In – Bamburgh

We will be in Bamburgh on Wednesday 13 March with our annual survey. Come and meet us at Bamburgh Pavilion between 10.00am and 12.00pm and share your experiences of health and social care over the last 12 months.

You can share your thoughts and experiences as a patient or as a carer. Your feedback will help us set our work priorities for the coming year. Knowing what is important to you helps us to work more effectively on your behalf. We can also look at trends and themes year on year, seeing what has changed and what remains important to people.

You could also be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes when you take the time to tell us about your experiences.

Thank you for your support and we hope you can call in to see us.

Two ladies chatting with a clipboard

Annual Survey Drop In – Berwick

We will be in Berwick on Friday 1 March with our annual survey. Come and meet us at The Maltings (small meeting room, lower ground floor), between 10.00am and 12.00pm and share your experiences of health and social care over the last 12 months.

You can share your thoughts and experiences as a patient or as a carer. Your feedback will help us set our work priorities for the coming year. Knowing what is important to you helps us to work more effectively on your behalf. We can also look at trends and themes year on year, seeing what has changed and what remains important to people.

You could also be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes when you take the time to tell us about your experiences.

Thank you for your support and we hope you can call in to see us.

Two ladies chatting with a clipboard

Annual Survey Drop In – Wooler

We will be in Wooler on Thursday 21 February with our annual survey. Come and meet us at Cheviot and Glendale surgeries between 10.00am and 12.00pm and share your experiences of health and social care over the last 12 months.

You can share your thoughts and experiences as a patient or as a carer. Your feedback will help us set our work priorities for the coming year. Knowing what is important to you helps us to work more effectively on your behalf. We can also look at trends and themes year on year, seeing what has changed and what remains important to people.

You could also be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes when you take the time to tell us about your experiences.

Thank you for your support and we hope you can call in to see us.

Two ladies chatting with a clipboard

Annual Survey Drop In – Rothbury

We will be in Rothbury on Friday 22 February with our annual survey. Come and meet us at The Jubilee Hall (Simonside Room), between 10.00am and 12.00pm and share your experiences of health and social care over the last 12 months.

You can share your thoughts and experiences as a patient or as a carer. Your feedback will help us set our work priorities for the coming year. Knowing what is important to you helps us to work more effectively on your behalf. We can also look at trends and themes year on year, seeing what has changed and what remains important to people.

You could also be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes when you take the time to tell us about your experiences.

Thank you for your support and we hope you can call in to see us.

Shelves of coloured books

Widdrington Library Drop-In

We will be at Widdrington Library on Wednesday 10 October 1.00pm to 4.00pm, listening to local people about their experiences of health and social care services, as part of Northumberland Libraries health and wellbeing week.

Come and say hello to the team and tell us what you think of services in your area.

Shelves of coloured books

Morpeth Library Drop-In

We will be at Morpeth Library on Tuesday 9 October 10.00pm to 12.00pm, listening to local people about their experiences of health and social care services, as part of Northumberland Libraries health and wellbeing week.

Come and say hello to the team and tell us what you think of services in your area.

Shelves of coloured books

Amble Library Drop-In

We will be at Amble Library on Tuesday 9 October 10.00pm to 12.00pm, listening to local people about their experiences of health and social care services, as part of Northumberland Libraries health and wellbeing week.

Come and say hello to the team and tell us what you think of services in your area.

Shelves of coloured books

Berwick Library Drop-In

We will be at Berwick Library on Wednesday 10 October 1.00pm to 4.00pm, listening to local people about their experiences of health and social care services, as part of Northumberland Libraries health and wellbeing week.

Come and say hello to the team and tell us what you think of services in your area.

Shelves of coloured books

Haltwhistle Library Drop-In

We will be at Haltwhistle Library on 9 October 1.30pm to 3.30pm, chatting to local people about health and social care services, as part of Northumberland Libraries health and wellbeing week.

Come and say hello and give us some feedback on your experiences to get a fluffy pen!

The Tree House at The Alnwick Garden

In It Together Spring Conference

In It Together are a group of parents and carers of children and young people with a wide range of disabilities and special needs who come together regularly to informally express our views and opinions on the type of services families need in Northumberland. The group works closely with service providers to develop and maintain accessible, high quality services for all children and young people with additional needs and disabilities, working towards a positive future for all.

In It Together are holding their Annual Conference on Thursday 15th March starting at 10.00am at The Alnwick Garden. It will be open to all parents and carers of children and young people with special education needs and/or disabilities living or educated in Northumberland. For more information email: info@in-it-together.org.uk.