February News

It’s a short month and time for our latest updates. This time there’s info on our free event for parents and carers, around young peoples’ mental wellbeing, plus we ask you about Day Services and give you an update on Covid-19 vaccines.

Healthwatch Northumberland Newsletter February 2021

Covid-19 Vaccinations Northumberand

Newsletter January 2021

Read our latest newsletter, which has lots of information on the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Northumberland, how to tell us about keeping int ouch with family in care homes, and local support and services.

Healthwatch Northumberland Newsletter January 2021

Healthwatch Northumberland call back service

New – Call Back Service

We’re offering a new call back service for you to share your experiences of NHS and social care services, or to use our information and signposting service. Just text 07413 385275 and one of our friendly staff or volunteers will call you back at a time to suit you. So if you know someone who’s not online – that’s fine! Let them know how to get in touch via text.

Christmas and New Year Office Closure

Our office will close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 23 December and reopen on Monday 4 January 2021.
You can still leave feedback about the services you’ve used, or ask us a question, via the Get in Touch page. There’s up to date information about Covid-19 – guidelines, support and services – at our Coronavirus Information page, and lots of info on where to get help for all kinds of health and social care issues at our Your Health pages. We wish you a peaceful Christmas and New Year and looking forward to hearing from you in 2021.

Christmas Jumper Day

Friday 11 December was national Christmas Jumper Day, raising money for Save the Children. Our team wore their Christmas jumpers for meetings that day to get in the spirit and donated to the cause!

December Newsletter

Our latest newsletter which includes an end of year message from our Chair, David Thompson, can be read at the link below. Leave your details to get our newsletter straight to your inbox or letterbox.

Helen joins the team

Engagement Officer Helen Brown joined the team in November and we’re very pleased to have her on board! She replaces Lesley Tweddell who has left for a career in education.
Helen previously worked for Talking Matters Northumberland on a project which supported people getting physically active to improve mental wellbeing. Hopefully Helen will be out and about talking to people across the county next year, but until then will be listening to your NHS and social care experiences on the phone or via our online public forums.

Colin gets online

This photo says it all! Last month, perseverance coupled with some technical support by telephone, saw Healthwatch Northumberland volunteer Colin make it onto Zoom for the first time. Colin is now looking forward to joining in with our online events and taking part in our engagement forums. If you would like to get online but aren’t sure how, please get in touch and one of our friendly team can take you through it step-by-step.

Watch our AGM from 21 October

Thanks to everyone who came along to our AGM and Review of the Year – our first one online! We thank our guests from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for speaking to us about remote healthcare consultations – the benefits and limitations of these and what we can expect in the future – and to everyone who submitted questions. We will publish answers to all the questions asked in the next few weeks; in the meantime, you can watch the recording of the event if you missed it.

Review of the Year and AGM 2020 – Join us!

Come along to our online event and find out about our work over the last 12 months and how we made a difference to people in Northumberland who use NHS and social care services.
We will also have Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust talking about the use of digital technology in accessing services – we’ll explore how the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the move to online appointments and consultations, what has worked well and not so well, and what we can expect in the future.
You can ask a question in advance or at the Q&A session in our webinar. We’d love to know what you think.

We’re on Instagram!

We’re now on Instagram and would love a follow from you if you’re on this popular social media platform. We’ll be posting about what we’re up to, how you can get involved and where to find support and information on all thing health and social care.


Lucy wins our Goodies Giveaway

Congratulations to Lucy Cooke of Blyth who won our Pride month Facebook competition! Lucy won one of our rainbow sequin soft toys, hand gel, mints, stress balls and pens.

Win a prize for Pride month!

We’ve had a stand at Northumberland Pride since the first year and it’s a shame this fabulous event can’t take place in 2020. We usually give away one of our very popular rainbow dogs at the event. To celebrate #PrideMonth this June we have one to give away to one of our Facebook followers, as part of a goody bag which includes 10 bottles of hand sanitiser gel. Just ‘like’ our Facebook page and the giveaway post to be entered into the draw, which end on 30 June.

Join us at our online forums

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

Find out more about our forums

Tell us your story

We’d like to hear about your experience, or that of a friend or family member, during the Covid-19 crisis.

At this time, more than ever, we are all grateful for our health and social care services and how they have adapted and continued to provide care at this very difficult time. Some services have changed the way they communicate and work. We’d really like to hear your story of using any service, including pharmacies, hospitals, GP services, care homes, urgent dental or optician services, mental health services, patient transport, ambulance and urgent care services.

Tell us your story

Coronavirus Information

Our team is mainly working from home as of 23 March 2020 but we are still here for you during this time. Please get in touch if you would like information on any health, care or support services locally, or would like to tell us about your recent experiences of using any NHS or social care service.

We have created a dedicated coronavirus information page to help you find all the latest information during the pandemic.

The Healthwatch Northumberland team expands as we welcome Laura

Laura Kane has joined the team as our Communication and Marketing Assistant. This is a new role which will help us reach more people across the county and find out what matters most to residents of Northumberland about local health and social care services.

Bringing experience in communications and marketing from a variety of sectors, we are looking forward to working with Laura in our role as independent champion for health and social care users. Don’t forget to let us know about any events, support groups and activities happening in your area.

Volunteer Officers get their heads together

Our Volunteer Officer Emma meets up with other volunteer coordinators from local Healthwatch across the North East at regular meetings. These meetings are a great way to share ideas, information and a chocolate biscuit or two! For more information on how to get involved in volunteering here at Healthwatch Northumberland see our Volunteer page.

Harry makes a start during Student Volunteering Week

It’s Student Volunteering Week so what a great time for our student volunteer to start with us! Sixth form student Harry will be helping out with our digital communications and helping us reach more people across Northumberland. Welcome to the team Harry.

Speak Up 2020 – with our Annual Survey

Did you use any health or social care services last year? !t might be a new year but your experiences from 2019 still matter. 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. This can be as a patient or carer. 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 also come and talk to us and tell us what you think of health and social care services at one of our public events. If you are unable to make it to an event you can leave your feedback via our online survey or get in touch to ask for a postal copy with freepost return.

Denim4Dementia Day 2020

Friday 24 January was Denim4Dementia Day, an Alzheimers Society initiative raising awareness of dementia. Someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes. Staff wore denim to work and donated £1 to Alzheimers Society research.

Christmas and New Year office closure

Our office will close at 5.00pm on Monday 23 December 2019, re-opening at 9.00am on Thursday 2 January 2020. Please visit our ‘find services‘ and ‘your health‘ pages for lots of information about local services. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.

Leah joins the volunteer team

Leah is also a Year 12 student and has started as a volunteer with us here at Healthwatch Northumberland.  As Office Support Volunteer, Leah will be helping our team with administration tasks and learning about the day to day running of our office and services. Really pleased to have you on board Leah!

Healthwatch Northumberland Meet and Greet Alnwick

Alnwick Meet and Greet

Our Meet and Greet in Alnwick this month was a chance for local people and representatives of organisations to meet our team and share views on health and social care services. Taking place before our board meeting at St James’s Church Centre, around 20 people dropped in for coffee and a chat; an opportunity to share information and network.

Welcome to our volunteer Anna

Fantastic to have our young volunteer Anna joining us in the office this month! Anna is a year 12 student and will be researching and helping to design information which is user-friendly and accessible to everyone in our county. Welcome to the team Anna!
Find out more about our volunteer opportunities.

Healthwatch England Conference 2019

Project Coordinator Derry Nugent and board members David Thompson and Kelvin Rushworth attended this year’s national Healthwatch Conference in Birmingham at the beginning of October. As well as a range of keynote speakers a programme of workshops and sessions were on offer. The event was a great opportunity to network and share ideas and best practice with other local Healthwatch.

The Big Sing

We took part in The Big Sing as part of BBC Music Day this September. Our host organisation Adapt (NE) in Hexham organised the event alongside many other happening all over the county. The theme this year was music and wellbeing – the power of music to inspire, bring us together and make a positive impact. People all over Northumberland got together to sing ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles, at the same time, and you can see the fantastic results of everyone’s efforts here in the compilation film.

Join us at our Conference 2019

You can now register for our bigger and better conference! This free event is at The Phoenix Theatre, Blyth on Wednesday 16 October 2019, from 10.00am to 3.30pm. If you use NHS, health and social care services, this is your chance to get involved in community conversations about services, with the people that provide services. We’ll have guest speakers and listening workshops on the topics of mental health, dementia, substance abuse, GP services, patient involvement and more. There will also be an ‘information buffet’ and lunch provided. We hope you can make it. Book your place.

Welcome Caroline

Caroline Janes joined the Healthwatch Northumberland team this month as Engagement and Insight Officer. Caroline will be out and about across Northumberland listening to people’s experiences of care and helping to signpost them to local support services. She will also play a big part in reporting on the work we have done and the feedback we have gathered. Welcome on board Caroline!

Donovan helps out

We had extra help in the office this week, when Engagement Officer Lesley’s son came in as part of ‘bring your child to work day’. Donovan made posters, helped plan some engagement activities and made a presentation of what he’d learnt to share with his classmates. Well done Donovan – a future team member in the making!

Board Meeting – Bellingham

Our June board meeting was held in Bellingham; with a meet and greet session at the Carriages Tea Room beforehand. Members of the public and local organisations are invited to join us before each meeting – which are held in different locations around the county – to have a cuppa and a chat with staff and board members. Details of the September board meeting will be available soon.


Our new volunteering leaflets have landed! These should help us recruit some volunteers from all corners of the county. If you would like to help make health and social care services better for your community, have a look at our Volunteer Page to find out more about how you can get involved. Please let us know if you can help by putting some of the leaflets out in venues near to you.

Northumberland Pride 2019

We loved being at Northumberland Pride for the second year running at Alnwick Rugby Club. There was a great turn out and it was lovely to hear from so many visitors about their health and social care experiences. We gave away lots of information about local services along with dozens of fluffy pens, stress balls, bags and notebooks plus the Pride dog in our free raffle. We’re already looking forward to next year! See all our photos here.

Hexham Abbey Event

Living Well in Tynedale Event

We had a stand at this well attended event in Hexham Abbey in May. The Abbey was buzzing with representatives of organisations of all kinds, live music, activities and visitors. We spoke to people about how they can tell us about the health and social care they’ve received, our signposting service and our new volunteering programme.

Sticky notes with feedback

NHS Long Term Plan Focus Groups

As part of our work asking people “What Would You do?” around the investment in the NHS over the next ten years, we held two focus groups. One was around mental health and the other on dementia. Feedback from these sessions will be fed back to the NHS, with the aim of ensuring the final plan meets the needs of different communities. The findings will be available in June.

Emma joins the Team

Emma Grimwood joins the Healthwatch Northumberland team this month as our Volunteer Coordinator. Previously a Volunteer Coordinator for Northumbria Healthcare breastfeeding peer support service, Emma also has an extensive and varied background in the voluntary sector. Over the next few months Emma will be building a team of volunteers to enable more people in Northumberland to have their say about health and social care services. Please give her a call if you would like to get involved.

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

Annual Survey 2019

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. 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.

Complete the Annual Survey 2019

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018

We’re almost at the end of another busy year, where we’ve spoken to people from all corners of the county and received hundreds of pieces of feedback from those who use NHS services and social care. We have recently finished a three week stint talking to people in the Emergency Department at The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, and will be sharing our findings in the new year. Please note that our offices will be closed from 3.30pm on Friday 21 December, re-opening at 9.00am on Wednesday 2 January, 2019. Thank you for your support, and a Merry Christmas from all the team here at Healthwatch Northumberland.

Healthwatch Northumberland

AGM 2018

Our AGM on 16 October was well attended with almost 100 people at the event. Our thanks go to everyone who came along, as an individual, health professional or with an information stand, with special thanks to guest speaker Stephen Blackman from North of Tyne Local Pharmaceutical Committee The minutes will be available really soon on the ‘News’ and ‘Our Work’ pages of the website.

Attendees of Healthwatch England Conference 2018

Healthwatch Conference

Project Coordinator Derry Nugent attended this year’s Healthwatch Annual Conference in Stratford, along with board members Margaret Young and Kelvin Rushworth. The event is a chance for local Healthwatch staff from across England to come together, share ideas and recognise the achievements that have been made during the year. See if you can spot them on this group photograph!

Healthwatch Northumberland Board Member

Harry joins the Team

We welcome new board member Harry Wilson to the Healthwatch Northumberland team this month. He is currently Chairman of Glendale Practice Patient Participation Group, and you will be able to meet him at our AGM in Newbiggin in October.

People holding 'speak up' messages

Date for your diary – Healthwatch Northumberland AGM 2018

Our AGM is on Tuesday 16 October at Newbiggin Sports & Community Centre, starting at 10am. This is your chance to hear about our  work over the past year, what you’ve told us and how we’ve made a difference in the community. Our guest speaker is Stephen Blackman, Chief Officer of North of Tyne Local Pharmaceutical Committee. Information stands from local health and support groups and organisations will be at the event for you to chat to and find out more. There might even be a giveaway or two! Lunch and refreshments will be provided for all guests. Register here.

team in polo tops

Team polo tops are here!

We’re very pleased with our new team polo tops, which can probably be seen from space in all honesty! But hopefully they will help us get noticed when we’re out and about listening to people about their care experiences.

sign up for updates

Please help us spread the word

With the new General Data Protection Regulations coming into effect in May, we, like many organisations, lost a significant amount of contacts from our newsletter/supporters list. Please help us get the numbers back up, so we can share the work we do, local health news and events with more people. You can join our mailing list here.

Adapt (NE) retains Healthwatch Northumberland Contract

We are pleased to report that Adapt (NE) has retained the contract to deliver Healthwatch Northumberland for another three years, so our contact details haven’t changed. Please get in touch via our contact page.

Healthwatch Anniversary

Healthwatch is five years old…!

Healthwatch across England turns on 1st April! That’s five years we’ve been listening to people in Northumberland about their experiences of health and social care.

Give us your feedback about local care, good or bad, and what matters to you via our website, on the phone or by filling in one of our freepost feedback cards. Every comment counts.

Farewell to Kirsten Francis

We would like to wish board member Kirsten Francis of Northumberland County Council good luck as she leaves for new ventures. Kirsten has been part of the Healthwatch Northumberland board since its inception in 2013. We welcome two new independent board members, Kelvin Rushworth and Hayley Brown, we will bring you more information on them and their roles soon.

Derry at Koast radio

Koast Radio

Derry was invited along to Koast Radio earlier this month to talk about the role of Healthwatch and how people can give feedback and be involved in decisions which affect them. We’ve been invited back in the future so hopefully we can make regular broadcasts.We think she was a natural!

snowman family

Adverse Weather – stay in touch

Like a lot of people our staff are struggling to get the office in the bad weather this week, so our telephones may be unmanned at times. You can contact us through our Facebook and Twitter pages if you need a response quickly, and can leave feedback via the website as usual. We hope everyone is able to stay safe and warm through the worst of the weather. Some hints and tips for keeping healthy during the winter can be found at the NHS Choices website.

Healthwatch Stall in Morpeth

Marketplace Debut

Our market stall debut was made at Morpeth Marketplace this month. On a glorious sunny day we set up a Healthwatch Northumberland stall so that we could listen to local people’s stories and experiences of the health and social care services used by themselves and their families, and what matters to them about these services. We had plenty of our pens, stressballs and lip balms to give away to those who left feedback or completed one of our annual surveys. Look out for us at a market near you soon!

Speak Up

Speak Up! with our annual survey

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 respond by 28 February 2018. Thank you!


New Golden Guides for 2018

Heather from the Golden Guide delivered some of the new 2018 editions to our office this week. The guide aims to help older people enjoy life by discovering the broad range of opportunities, services and facilities in their local area.

It’s a great way to find activities, clubs and classes where you can socialise and have fun plus and there’s lots of information and advice about volunteering, learning a new skill and support for older 50s locally.

Interview with Hexhamtv

Hexhamtv interviews Project Coordinator Derry Nugent

With the announcement that some planned hospital operations are being delayed this month, both nationally and locally, Hexhamtv invited Derry to talk about the situation in the county and how you can feed back your experience good or bad, if you or those you care for are affected in any way by these circumstances.

Click here to view the interview.

Promotional Literature

Look out for our new posters and leaflets

We have some new leaflets, posters and wallet sized information cards which the team are ready to distribute across the county over the next few weeks. The materials are eye catching and informative and we hope they will help us reach people across Northumberland and raise awareness of what we do. We will drop information at as many venues as we can possibly get to, however if you would like some for your organisation or can help with distribution please get in touch.

Healthwatch Christmas Penguins

Christmas and New Year

As we come to the end of a busy 2017 we’d like to thank you for your support of Healthwatch Northumberland. The AGM saw a record number of people attend and we’ve had some positive and constructive feedback on how we can make it an even better event next year. Thanks also go to those who came to the recent Great North Care Record meetings and contributed to some lively and thought provoking discussion. Our website, new this spring, has also received positive comments, particularly the ‘find services’ section where you can find a directory of local organisations and support groups. The site is continually changing so do get in touch with any suggestions. We have lots of projects underway right now which will continue into the new year, including mapping children and young people’s pathways to mental health services; more details to follow. Our office will close on Friday 22 December and re-open on Tuesday 2 January 2018. The  team would like to wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

Hate Crime Event

Hate Crime Event in Hexham

Anne was at the Northumbria Police Hate Crime event in Hexham this week. Held at the Abbey, the event saw an array of local organisations come together to showcase the support available on offer to the community, with the emphasis on hate crime and how we can work together to support, educate and liaise with one another.

A hate crime can include being called names, hassled or threatened, being beaten up, kicked or attacked, people swearing at you and making abusive remarks, people doing things to frighten, intimidate, or scare you, bullying at school, work or college, damage to your property or car or having things stolen, spitting or making insulting gestures.

SEND Roadshow

SEND Roadshows

We’ve been at the In It Together and Northumberland County Council SEND roadshows this month which were held across the county at Ashington, Alnwick and Hexham. There was an enormous range of services and organisations present, a great opportunity for families with special educational needs and disabilities to find out what support is on offer. We’re looking forward to next year!

Prudhoe Play Day

Prudhoe Play Day

The engagement team, Tania, Heather (pictured) and Anne, had a stand at this year’s Prudhoe Play Day, organised annually by children’s services. This year we had colouring and dressing up activities, free fruit and squidgy balls, plus some health related questions and dilemmas for parents.

A great day was had by all, until unfortunately rain stopped play. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Healthwatch Conference

Healthwatch Annual Conference 2017

Anne, Carole and Colin attended this year’s annual conference in Nottingham, giving the 152 local Healthwatch teams in England the chance meet, share and learn from each other. Our team attended workshops on things such as measuring impact, engaging with young people and mental health issues. The Healthwatch Network Awards ceremony took place in the evening, recognising the ways in which Healthwatch across the country have helped make people’s views of health and social care services heard over the last 12 months.

Northumberland CVA Volunteer Fair

Engagement staff Tania and Anne were at the Northumberland CVA volunteer fair in Ashington last week, which was a chance for people to see what opportunties there are for volunteering across the county. We spoke to lots of you about the what Healthwatch Northumberland do and were able to ‘signpost’ lots of people on to services such as Northumberland Independent Advocacy Service and Adapt NE Transport.

Out and About

We met lots of lovely people and listened to some informative and inspirational speakers at both the Northumberland Cancer Patient and Carer Group’s Annual Conference in March and the Ageing Well in Northumberland Conference in April.  The Stepping into Spring event in Ashington was a fantastic showcase of activities and support for older people in the county, with events also happening in Bedlington and Wooler.

For more details of events where you can come and have a chat to us, plus other activities and events happening in your area, visit our ‘events‘ page.

Staff Team

We are really pleased to welcome David Thompson as the new Healthwatch Board Chair along with some new independent board members. We have recently been recruiting for a Vice Chair; the deadline for applications was Wednesday 24th May, and we’ll keep you updated as the process continues.

Derry Nugent took on the role of Project Coordinator in April and has been instrumental in recruiting some new engagement staff members. Meet everyone on the ‘our team’ page.

Annual Survey

Thank you to everyone who completed our annual survey earlier in the year. We had a better response than ever before and very much appreciate you taking the time to share your views with us. We will be bringing you updates on the outcomes and priorities really soon, but it’s encouraging to note that over 90% of services used were rated either okay, good or excellent. More to follow.


Welcome to our new website, which we hope is user friendly and easy to navigate. We have a new and improved ‘your health‘ section which gives comprehensive signposting advice about many health issues, plus for the first time we will be bringing you some exciting blog posts from staff, board members and lots of other interesting people! Please let us know if you spot anything we can improve or add.