Residents asked to give views on health and care services

People living across Northumberland are being urged to share their experiences and have their say on the future of health and care services.

Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 11:34 am
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 4:14 am
David Evans, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare Trust at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital. Picture by Jane Coltman

Earlier this month, health and social care organisations outlined an ambitious and exciting vision for continuing to improve the quality of services in Northumberland.

On street engagement teams have been visiting towns and villages across the county throughout February and will continue to be out and about over the next two weeks.

The local NHS and partner organisations are working together with Healthwatch Northumberland to ensure as many people as possible share their views.

The NHS is particularly keen to hear from men across the county, young people aged under 25 and others whose views are seldom heard, to ensure that opinions are representative of the entire population.

The vision being outlined for Northumberland aims to improve experience for staff, patients and carers in many ways:

· Better support for people to live healthily and stay well

· Better access to timely advice to help people use services appropriately

· Improved access to primary care and GP appointments

· Improved integration of mental health services

· More personalised and co-ordinated care for those with long-term conditions or complex needs

· Professionals across health and social care working in a joined-up way

· A shared health record so patients do not have to repeat their story

The opening of the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital last year marked the first important first milestone in the vision for Northumberland, with consultant specialists now available seven days a week to care for those who are seriously ill or injured and brought in by emergency blue light ambulance or being admitted as an emergency by their GP.

The hospital is the first of its kind in England and is already helping to improve clinical outcomes for those who are seriously ill or injured, as well as reducing the length of time they need to spend in hospital.

Health and care leaders are now focussed on further enhancing the provision of local services outside of hospital through the creation of local integrated care ‘hubs across the county. These ‘hubs’ would have the potential for new networks of GP practices to work together in order to improve access for patients. They would also house new locality-based integrated care teams with more specialists working in the community looking after people closer to home and preventing the need for people to go to hospital when symptoms worsen.

Responses from the online survey will directly influence future proposals and help clinical teams as they look to improve services and better co-ordinate care based on feedback from local people.

A new co-design forum has also been set up to involve and engage patients, local people and key partners across Northumberland, as ideas for services are developed in the months ahead. Further public engagement events will also be held throughout 2016 as plans evolve and develop.

Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Involving local people is at the very heart of our vision and ambition for Northumberland and I would encourage everyone to get involved and tell us about their experiences and what they would like to see improved by completing our online survey over the coming weeks.

“This will allow us to much better understand what matters most to local people and help inform conversations amongst our clinical teams as to how we can better organise care for our patients, particularly the most vulnerable, in the future.”

David Evans, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “Listening to the views of our patients, staff and members of the public so that we can continually improve the quality of care we provide, is one of our top priorities and at the forefront of our vision for Northumberland.

“Only by listening to the people we serve will we truly build a health and care system fit for the future and I would urge everyone living in Northumberland to take the time to complete our survey and influence how we can further improve the quality of care of all local services.”

Councillor Scott Dickinson, chair of the health and wellbeing board in Northumberland said: “I am delighted to see the public, patients and staff being involved in this work from the outset. The views and opinions of everyone in Northumberland are vital so that health and care services can truly understand experiences from the patient’s perspective and co-design future services that are built around patient need.”

As more care is delivered in the right place and more people are able to access services in the right way, the vision for Northumberland will also see many wider benefits for the future efficiency and financial stability of the health and social care system as a whole – as well as improving health outcomes for the population.

Health and care partners also want to give people more confidence to look after themselves well, take more accountability for their own health and wellbeing and focus on preventing people becoming ill.

Complete the online survey by March 20.