Making a difference — influencing at a national level
Thank you to everyone who took the time to tell us about their experiences of health and social care last year through our ‘Because we all care’ survey. For those who don’t know, this was a joint piece of work with Healthwatch England, local Healthwatch and the Care Quality Commission.
One of the topics you raised was around access to dentists. People both locally and nationally said that some dentists prioritised private care or asked them to pay private fees if they wanted treatment. Sales of at-home dental kits went up by 87% in the last three months of 2020 compared with the previous year.
Sir Robert Francis QC, chair of Healthwatch England, said the coronavirus pandemic had “Exacerbated the human impact of years of structural issues in NHS dentistry and is now pushing it to crisis point.”
If you would like to read more about the dentistry issues people are facing, read the Guardian article at https://tinyurl.com/BWACdental
Setting our priorities
The past year saw so many changes for everyone. Here at Healthwatch Newcastle, we re-prioritised our work to make sure we support the efforts to share important messages and information with the public. We signpost people to get the help they need and support local communities by making befriending calls.
We also continue to collect feedback on people’s experiences of health and social care services and help people when things were not going the way they should.
It is now time to be thinking about the year ahead and what our work priorities should be. We’ve already made a start and the staff team are looking at what we have heard over the past year.
We will be talking to members of the Committee and other partners soon too. Please look out for messages from us so that we can ensure that decisions on our health and social care priorities are based on what matters most to people in Newcastle.
Healthwatch Newcastle appoints a new Chair
We are delighted to welcome Peter Deans as the new Chair for Healthwatch Newcastle.
Peter brings a wealth of experience from a career spent working with and for charities, social enterprises and organisations that make a difference and contribute to a strong civil society. This experience and a passion for ensuring users’ views shape excellent services and influence policy make Peter an excellent choice.
Peter is looking forward to working with the Committee; listening, learning and ensuring that Healthwatch Newcastle continues to respond to the challenges we are all facing as a result of the pandemic and effectively planning for the future, keeping the experiences and involvement of local people at the heart of all we do.
Peter says “Understanding the views and needs of local people is essential for effective services. Our health and social care sector has responded extremely well to the immediate challenges of the pandemic. The next stages and our recovery will bring fresh challenges. I am determined that Healthwatch Newcastle will help to make this work well for everyone.”
Healthwatch Newcastle’s response to the council’s budget proposals
Our Project Manager, Rachel Wilkins, has been focusing on the local authority budget consultation with our Chief Executive, Siobhan O’Neil. Newcastle City Council recently outlined its budget proposals in a medium-term plan for 2021—22 and 2022—23.
The Healthwatch Newcastle response to the budget proposals acknowledged the challenging financial position for Newcastle City Council and the impact COVID-19 has had on this. We emphasised our commitment to working together to support consultations going forward.
The importance of engagement and consultation was highlighted as part of any proposal to make changes. We raised concerns about how easy this may be currently, due to the restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19.
We also expressed concerns about the impact some proposals may have on unpaid carers and the importance of considering this for each one.
You can read our budget response at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk/news/council-budget-response2021
Become a Healthwatch associate
Did you know that you can work with us on an associate basis? We sometimes need additional skills or to enhance our team to deliver particular pieces of work or research projects. If you have skills in engaging and involving local people and communities, project management or research we’re keen to hear from you.
Research strategy for Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
The Trust aims to be at the forefront of health research and innovation internationally.
It is keen to get feedback from both patients and the public on five priority areas in its proposed strategy covering: patients, people, partnerships, pioneers and performance. The Trust will then produce a final research strategy document in the coming months.
The deadline for giving feedback via a questionnaire is Sunday 28 February.
Find out more and take the questionnaire at https://tinyurl.com/s44zrqqi
Mental Health Act reform — consultation
Have your say on the proposed changes to the Mental Health Act. The changes are based on four principles:
- Choice and autonomy – ensuring patients’ views and choices are respected.
- Least restriction – ensuring MHA powers are used in the least restrictive way.
- Therapeutic benefit – ensuring patients are supported to get better and discharged as quickly as possible.
- The person as an individual – ensuring patients are viewed and treated as individuals.
Following consultation, the government plans to draft a revised Mental Health Bill, which will be introduced when Parliamentary time allows.
Deadline to respond is Wednesday 21 April.
Find out more at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reforming-the-mental-health-act
Free PPE for unpaid carers
Newcastle City Council can provide free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 needs. This is for all unpaid carers providing care and support to a person they do not live with.
The council is working with Newcastle Carers to coordinate this. Carers needing PPE should contact Newcastle Carers on 0191 275 5060 to place an order. When it is ready you can collect it from the Adult Social Care reception, adjacent to the trampoline park on Westgate Road.
Wellbeing tips for carers
Newcastle Carers has put together a booklet called ‘Looking after you. This includes tips and suggestions from staff and carers about ideas, activities and ways for carers to look after their wellbeing.
Download the booklet at https://tinyurl.com/42b65gf2
Vaccine information for people from BAME communities
People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities (particularly Black and South Asian ethnic groups) have been hardest hit by COVID-19 — they are also the least likely to take up a coronavirus vaccination. Newcastle Council is in the process of producing vaccine videos in community languages for local people. The first two are now available:
Why it’s important to take the vaccine (in Bengali), Dr Islam GP in Newcastle
Vaccine misinformation in Bengali, Rajib Basit
Further videos will be coming so please keep your eyes peeled.
For more useful links related to COVID-19 please visit our website at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk/covid-19
Staying mentally well: winter plan 2020 to 2021
The Department of Health and Social Care has published plans to support people’s wellbeing and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic this winter.
The plan sets out the support in place to help people stay well during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and through the winter months ahead, including wellbeing and work, support in communities, the voluntary sector, children, mental health services, crisis support, physical health and support for frontline health and social care workers.
Sign up to the National Vaccine Registry
It’s important that clinical trials continue into several other COVID-19 vaccines. Different vaccines work in different ways and NHS researchers still need to collect vital information about which vaccines work best.
They’re looking for people from all backgrounds, communities and ages to help with this.
Find out how you can help this research by signing up to the National Vaccine Registry at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/research/coronavirus-vaccine-research
Help create the world’s biggest study of the causes of ME/CFS
The DecodeME DNA study needs 20,000 participants with ME/CFS (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome).
DNA from saliva will be analysed to see whether the disease is partly genetic and, if so, help pinpoint what causes it. The study should help researchers understand the disease and ultimately find treatments.
Find out more at www.decodeme.org.uk
This newsletter in other formats
We’re currently unable to provide paper copies of this newsletter. If you would like a version you can print out yourself, you can find copies of all our recent newsletters at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk/about-us/resources
If you need this newsletter in another format please get in touch by emailing email@example.com or phoning Freephone 0808 178 9282.