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County Councillor Report (Sep 2021)

by Wendy Pattison – Tel. 07779 983072

And also on Facebook: Cllr Wendy Pattison

Photo portrait of Councillor Wendy Pattison

[All text and the above portrait photo provided by Cllr Wendy Pattison and used with permission. Received: 26 August 2021.]


Healthwatch, Northumberland

Healthwatch Northumberland is your local health and social care champion.

From Berwick to Bellingham and everywhere in between, they make sure NHS leaders and other decision makers hear your voice and use your feedback to improve care.

As an independent statutory body, they have the power to make sure NHS leaders and other decision makers listen to local feedback and improve standards of care. They can also help you to find reliable and trustworthy information and advice. Last year, the Healthwatch network helped nearly a million people like you to have your say and get the support you need.

Healthwatch Northumberland is part of a network of over 150 local Healthwatch across the country. They are here to listen to the issues that really matter to people in Northumberland and to hear about your experiences of using local health and social care services. They are entirely independent and impartial, and anything you share with them is confidential.

Healthwatch use your feedback to better understand the challenges facing the NHS and other care providers and we make sure your experiences improve health and care for everyone, both locally and nationally. We can also help you to get the information and advice you need to make the right decisions for you and to get the support you need.

It’s really important that you share your experiences – whether good or bad, happy or sad. If you’ve had a negative experience, it’s easy to think there’s no point in complaining, and that ‘nothing ever changes’. Or, if you’ve had a great experience, that you ‘wish you could say thank you’.

Remember, your feedback is helping to improve people’s lives. So, if you need support or information, or you’re ready to tell your story, they are here to listen.

Write to:
Healthwatch Northumberland, Adapt (NE), Burn Lane, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 3HN – Call: 03332 408 468, Text: 07413 385275.


NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

There are 41 GP practices in Northumberland, covering an approximate population of 319,000 people

CCG plan and buy the majority of NHS hospital based and community health care services for people in Northumberland. This includes services provided by health visitors and district nurses. They are mostly made up of doctors, nurses and other health professionals – with support from experienced health service managers. CCG work closely with all 41 family GP practices in Northumberland which are all members of NHS Northumberland CCG. This enables close links to patients, allowing to develop more personalised local health services that respond to individual needs. Although they are not responsible for the contract with GP practices, dentists, pharmacies and opticians, they work closely with NHS England who have this role.

NHS Northumberland CCG, The Rivergreen Centre, St Mary’s Park
Morpeth, NE61 6BL. 01670 335 157

Northumberland is home to approximately 319,000 residents and CCG are responsible for ensuring the planning and buying of local NHS health services meet their needs. They work with healthcare colleagues based in hospitals, the local authority, the community and voluntary sector and with local people to improve services and patient care.

four key areas:

Northumberland is a large county which is mainly classed as a rural. Therefore, to ensure the CCG have a more local focus, they have developed four main areas:

  • North Northumberland
  • West Northumberland
  • Central Northumberland
  • Blyth Valley

CCG focus on providing care at a more local level, treating you closer to home in a way which suits your individual needs; helping you to avoid unnecessary travel and hospital admissions. They connect services, where possible, to provide seamless care so you receive the right care in the right place and at the right time.

What is a CCG?

CCG are clinically-led statutory bodies responsible for planning and commissioning most of hospital and community services in our local area. They buy services from providers such as hospitals, clinics and community health bodies based on the needs of our local population. They are also responsible for assessing these needs and deciding priorities and strategies to improve outcomes. 

CCG are responsible for the health of the entire population of our local areas and must constantly respond and adapt to changing local circumstances.

Your experience of NHS services

CCG welcome feedback about NHS services, both positive and negative.  If you are unhappy with the treatment or service you, a relative or someone you care for has received from your local NHS, you have the right to make a complaint, have it looked into and get a response.

Within the NHS we aim to make sure all complaints are handled well and that appropriate action is taken in order to try and resolve the matter to the complainant’s satisfaction.

Can my issue be resolved without formally complaining?

You can raise your concerns immediately by speaking with the staff involved.  This might give you the response you require without having to take the matter further.

You can also contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who can provide confidential advice and support to help you resolve queries and concerns about your NHS care within an NHS trust informally without having to make a formal complaint.  In some NHS organisations, PALS staff are part of another department, for example, customer services or patient experience team.

It is important to note that PALS does not investigate complaints but will provide informal support in resolving a query or concern. PALS cannot help with issues which have already been raised via the NHS complaints procedure or with social care complaints (which need to be addressed by the local authority

You can find your nearest PALS office on the NHS website.  You can also ask your GP surgery, hospital or phone NHS 111 for details of your nearest PALS.

Where do I send my complaint?

If your complaint is about a hospital, community or mental health service or independent provider you should send this to the NHS organisation involved. If your complaint is about CCG commissioning, a funding decision or a service provided by North of England Commissioning Support (UK) (NECS), you should send it to the address below:

Complaints Team, North of England Commissioning Support Unit, John Snow House, University Science Park. Durham, DH1 3YG. Tel. 0191 374 4218

Face to face meetings can be arranged with the Complaints Team, however, these are by appointment only. This service is not offered on a drop in basis.

What happens if I prefer to complain directly to the commissioning organisation?

The commissioning organisation pays for the healthcare services in your area. The responsible commissioner will vary depending on the NHS service you are complaining about.

  • If your complaint is about services such as hospital care, mental health services, out of hours services and community services such as district nursing, the CCG is the commissioner, and you should send your complaint to NECS who will coordinate the complaint on behalf of the CCG
  • If your complaint is about primary care services such as GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacy services, NHS England is the commissioner. The CCG and NECS cannot investigate complaints about primary care services. 
  • If your complaint is about a public health organisation (which provides services that prevent disease, promote health and prolong life), your local authority is the commissioner.  

Complaining to the commissioner may be the right option if you are not comfortable complaining directly to your healthcare provider, or if you feel this is not appropriate.  However, the healthcare provider will normally be given the opportunity to investigate and respond to your complaint directly.  In cases where the CCG is the commissioner, the NECS Complaints Team will request a copy of the complaint response for monitoring purposes.

Please note, if you have already complained to your healthcare provider, the commissioner will not be able to re-investigate the same concerns.

What can I expect in response?

Your complaint will be fully investigated in a manner that is fair to both you and the staff involved. If failings are identified during the investigation, any necessary improvements will be made to the quality of services.

You will receive a written response to your complaint which will include information on any service improvements.

What happens if I am unhappy with the response?

If you remain unhappy with how your complaint has been handled following the conclusion of local resolution, you can ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to review your complaint.  You can contact the PHSO at the address below:

PHSO, Millbank Tower’ Millbank’ London’ SW1P 4QP. Tel 0345 015 4033;

Council to support Afghanistan resettlement programme 

The Leader of Northumberland County Council, Glen Sanderson has joined the residents of Northumberland in voicing his sadness and concern for the people of Afghanistan and has confirmed the council’s commitment to supporting those fleeing their homes and seeking safety in the UK. The council is in discussions with the Government about the support it can provide to house Afghan refugees and is awaiting further guidance.   

 Councillor Sanderson said: “What is happening in Afghanistan is both shocking and heart-breaking. My thoughts, like all of ours, are with the Afghan people, but also with those members of our communities who have loved ones in Afghanistan and will be extremely concerned about their safety.” 

The settlement of refugees in appropriate communities with appropriate support is complex and is being coordinated at a national level. The Government has pledged to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next five years in a scheme that will be similar to the 2014 project set up to support Syrian refugees when the country fell into civil war. 

Northumberland has a long history of supporting those in need from other countries and prior to the current situation in Afghanistan agreed to the Government’s request to support their Afghan Local Employed Staff (LES) resettlement proposals. Under this scheme, the council is looking to support six families.  The authority is  already supporting three families who have arrived in the county in recent days and another three are expected soon. 

As well as providing homes from its own housing stock, the council is working closely with other social housing providers with a view to exploring what assistance they can provide. 

“We are currently awaiting guidance from the Government in terms of refugees arriving from Afghanistan and we are reviewing options to either accelerate or increase our support, should we be asked to do so. 

“The most critical element to the Afghan scheme is that the authority can identify and offer affordable housing. We already have a waiting list for housing in the county – but we will do our best to help in any way we can. 

“Our contribution may be modest, but by working as part of the national programme with all councils contributing according to their ability, our combined effort can make a significant difference.” 

Cllr Sanderson added: “Many people in Afghanistan are now in real danger having provided vital support to our military over the last 20 years. 

“These people have acted heroically as our allies, despite the risk to themselves and their families, and it’s only right that we now do all we can to keep them safe and recognise their service and contribution to our country.”  Since 2016 Northumberland County Council has supported the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme, receiving funding to cover any associated costs. 

The authority has resettled 44 refugee families who have experienced incomprehensible trauma and upset in their lives and have been displaced by conflict which has destroyed their homeland and their livelihoods.  

The refugees have come to Northumberland with a strong work ethic, a desire to learn the English language and a wish to support their families and contribute to their local communities.   

They have worked extremely hard to integrate with their local communities in Northumberland and the council has been supporting the families to engage in a wide range of community activities and pursue volunteering and employment opportunities.

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