22 Nov

Healthwatch Newcastle Newsletter – 21 November 2019

Mental health services for children and young people

We launched our survey to gather experiences of mental health services in October. So far we’ve had 152 responses: 53 from Newcastle residents and 89 from Gateshead residents. Most responses have been from parents and carers.

We’d like to hear from more people in Newcastle — particularly from children and young people — so if there is anything you can do to help us spread this survey far and wide, please do so. The survey is for anyone aged 18 or under (or 25 or under and in local authority care), and for parents and carers. You must live in Newcastle or Gateshead to take part. There is an option to enter a prize draw to win a £25 voucher at the end.

We can also visit any groups you are part of, or work with, and help people complete the survey. Please get in touch with Rachel at rachel@healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk or 0191 338 5723.

Take the survey at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/cymh2019

The Stars are out!

We are proud to recognise the contribution that people and organisations make to the success of local social care and health services.

We are delighted to announce that the following people and services have recently been awarded a Healthwatch Star:

  • Kathryn Batey of Ward 22 (orthopaedic physiotherapy team) at the RVI for working tirelessly to improve the care of the patients and being inspirational.
  • Dr Sangeetha Bommisetty at Beacon View Medical Centre for going the extra mile for her patients.
  • Bridget Hinchcliffe of Ward 43 (neurology) at the RVI for going above and beyond in her care for patients.
  • Sister Joanne Gregor at the Freeman Hospital for giving a patient hope when all had gone.
  • Sandra Hudspeth at St Anthony’s Health Centre for being caring, cheerful and reassuring.

If you know a person or a service that shines, nominate them for a Healthwatch Star so they receive the recognition they deserve. They will receive a certificate and their details are published on our website.

Nominate your Healthwatch Star online at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk/nominate-a-star


Hellos and goodbyes

Kate Israel stepped down as the Chair of Healthwatch Newcastle at our AGM in October (pictured here cutting her ‘thank you’ cake).

We’re grateful to Kate for all she has done as Chair over the past three years and wish her well in her new pursuits. You can read Kate’s farewell address below.

“I am standing down as Chair of Healthwatch Newcastle after four years on the Committee and three years as Chair. During that time we have become an independent organisation under the auspices of Tell Us North, a community interest company set up to work with local communities to influence and improve the quality of health, wellbeing and social care services. Shortly after setting up Tell Us North, we were successful in winning the Healthwatch Gateshead contract. So we had a very busy few months setting up the Tell Us North Board and recruiting a completely new Committee to oversee and steer the work of Healthwatch Gateshead. Although we have two separate Committees for Newcastle and Gateshead we can share resources, undertake joint projects where this is appropriate and save money through having a joint annual conference and AGM.

During the time that I have been involved, I have no hesitation in saying that Healthwatch Newcastle has gone from strength to strength. Through listening to, gathering and collating the views of people who have direct personal experience of health and social care services, we have been able to gain some significant improvements in services. As an example, during 2015—2016 we explored people’s experience of home care services. As Newcastle City Council was about to put the service out to tender we were able to influence the tender document and the council took on board six of our ten recommendations, based entirely on what people had told us. We have also influenced improvements in mental health services, cancer screening services, and services for young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Through the work of our outreach worker and volunteers we have been able to reach out to those whose voices are seldom heard, including Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, homeless people, LGBT communities, veterans, people in receipt of benefits and a host of others.

At a more strategic level, we have been talking to the NHS locally around the Sustainability and Transformation Plan and the Integrated Care System that are being developed, with the aim of encouraging greater knowledge and participation in these developments by the general public. But there is still much work to do in this area.

As I stand down as Chair, my plea to the NHS locally is to:

  • Communicate the changes to the public in easily accessible language.
  • Explain what these changes will mean locally.
  • Be open and honest about the current challenges facing the NHS, i.e. GP recruitment, staff shortages, increasing demand and an ageing population, to name but a few.
  • Start to engage the public and service users in options for addressing these issues. They may just come up with some solutions that NHS managers haven’t thought of.
  • Involve service users and carers in specific service changes, designing these changes based on the experience that they bring to the table.
  • Where difficult decisions have to be taken, be open and honest about why they have to happen and work with service users and their carers around how to mitigate any adverse impacts.
  • Work with us at Healthwatch. We have expertise in working with communities and in reaching those communities whose voices are seldom heard.

We can advise and support you in your communications and involvement work.

Finally, I want to say a big thank you to our very small team of staff, led by Steph Edusei, our five dedicated Committee members who oversee the direction of travel for the work, and our very committed group of volunteers, without whom Healthwatch could not achieve the reach into communities that we do.

I’m handing over to Alexandros Dearges-Chantler, who will bring a fresh pair of eyes and a renewed focus and energy to the work. I am confident he will take Healthwatch Newcastle on to the next stage of its development.”
Kate Israel

Alexandros Dearges-Chantler joined the Healthwatch Newcastle Committee just over a year ago and we’re pleased to announce that he has now also become the Chair. Read his statement below.

“I am delighted to be appointed as Chair of Healthwatch Newcastle. Serving as a member of the Committee and attending various national Healthwatch England events has given me an insight and great appreciation of the scope, depth and impact that Healthwatch has as the independent champion for people who use health and social care services.

I look forward to working with the brilliant team of dedicated and professional individuals at Healthwatch Newcastle to build upon our reputation and bring the voice of local people into the room where policy and decisions are made and to also challenge those in power to make a clear commitment to consult, engage and communicate with service users. To actually show where and how those voices have had an impact on the final decisions requires transparency in the decision-making process and that is something we should all be supporting.

We have a simple vision and mission: we want to make sure that health and social care work for the people who use it and they have the support to help them to stay well and manage any health and care needs that they have. To do this we need to find out what people think about the services they use, both the good and the bad. I am totally committed to making sure that this happens. I know from the management of my own healthcare that I like to be informed and build a relationship with my medical professionals and to take responsibility for my own care and have my voice heard. To do otherwise is not acceptable for me and I believe that other people need to have their voices heard in similar situations.

Healthwatch Newcastle can be the voice that needs to be heard, especially the voices from those who find it hardest to be heard. We live in a fast-changing and challenging environment, not least in health and social care. I believe that this gives Healthwatch Newcastle and Healthwatch England opportunities to make sure that we are the champion of users of services and can influence policy and decision-making to make health and care better. I hope to use my skills, experience, knowledge and passion to help in doing so.”
Alexandros Dearges-Chantler BA (Hons) MBA, MA DBA, Dip

Read more about the Committee members, staff team and Healthwatch Champions at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk/about-us/meet-the-team


Tune in to ‘Health matters’

Tune in to hear about the health and wellbeing issues that matter to you, on our fortnightly radio show on Tuesdays from 12 noon to 2pm.

In the past few months we have discussed various topics, including managing the menopause, helping parents support their children’s mental health, and advice on stopping smoking.

Join us next on Tuesday 3 December on 98.8 FM or listen online at
Feel free to call us during the show if you have any questions or comments on 0191 273 9888 or via WhatsApp on 07881 988 988.

Catch up with previous shows at www.mixcloud.com/steph-edusei


Other news and events

Proposals for SEND services in Newcastle
Newcastle Council is asking for feedback on proposals for Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision in the city. Some of the things being proposed are:

  • Delivering appropriate secondary places
  • Early intervention with specialist support
  • Developing expertise in schools and support services
  • Addressing the gap in mental health support for young people aged 16+

The survey closes on Thursday 28 November.

Have your say (registration required) at www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk/surveys/info/711

West Road Medical Centre rated outstanding
Congratulations to West Road Medical Centre in Newcastle which was recently rated as ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for being well-led. The CQC saw examples of outstanding practice including:

  • A frailty project supporting all frail, or at risk of being frail, patients to achieve good health outcomes, including in end of life care. Of those patients on the frailty list who had died, 100% were recorded as dying in their preferred place of death.
  • The practice had improved its approach to supporting patients experiencing domestic violence. In collaboration with a local advocacy organisation, it provided staff with additional training to support routine conversations about domestic violence with patients. This led to the practice identifying 13 people who had not previously disclosed information to health professionals.

Read the report at www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-571367307

Winter wellness
Christmas is almost here and for some it can be a difficult time, through loneliness or depression. Loneliness can have a significant impact on your mental health. It can contribute to mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

The Patient Information Centre has produced a free resource pack which contains information about where people can access mental health support and what you can do to support a friend or family member.

If you’d like a resource pack please email pic@cntw.nhs.uk

There and back — travelling to and from NHS services
Between March and May this year, the Healthwatch network carried out a nationwide conversation asking communities how they want the NHS to improve locally. We found that travel was a key issue, with nine out of every ten people telling us that convenient ways of getting to and from health services were either important or very important.

In partnership with Age UK and Kidney Care UK, Healthwatch England has been working with the NHS to take action. NHS England has said it will carry out a national review of transport and the NHS.

Read more at https://tinyurl.com/y5s3ceov

Do you need help travelling to hospital?
Ambulance transport is available for patients who have a medical condition which means they are unable to make their own way to hospital. If you feel that you need to request ambulance transport, please speak to your GP at least seven days before your hospital appointment.

If you are an older person, or have a disability, and have a concessionary bus pass or Metro Gold Card, just show your hospital appointment letter with your pass if you need to travel before 9.30am to get to/from a hospital appointment.