Adopting a healthy lifestyle by eating the right foods, doing regular exercise, limiting your alcohol intake and not smoking, means you are more likely to live longer and experience less health-related problems. We want to improve public health and empower people living across Northumberland to take more accountability for their own lifestyle. By making the right choices to look after yourself well, you can help prevent yourself becoming ill.
In Northumberland we have a higher than average elderly population and many of us are carers for family members, friends or neighbours. We know there is much more we can do to build better networks of community support, particularly for those living with long-term conditions or with complex care needs. We want to find new and better ways of supporting people locally, by connecting carers, voluntary organisations and strengthening local health and care services.
Practising good self-care is about taking responsibility for looking after yourself well and we want to give people more confidence to be able to do this effectively. Whether you are normally fit and healthy or living with a long-term condition, there are things we can all do to make sure we manage our own health and any common symptoms. Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet, a well-prepared first aid kit and remembering to order repeat prescriptions for example, means you will be able to deal with many minor problems at home and without needing to see your GP.
Our patients and the public often tell us they are confused about where to look for help and advice and this often results in people accessing the wrong services such as attending the emergency department. We also know that for many people, the internet is often their first port of call and we want explore the options for providing online access to advice which supports patients and carers to access the right service for their needs, at the right time.
Looking after yourself well is not just about your physical health but also your mental wellbeing and there are some simple steps we want to encourage everyone to take. By connecting more with the people around you, being aware of the present moment, keeping active by doing something you enjoy, learning new skills or giving your time to help others – all of these things can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
xInfo in local venues
As well as exploring opportunities for providing online advice, we also want to make sure that patients, carers and members of the public have access to good information in their local community – not everyone will look online! By providing good information, we want to give people the confidence to look after themselves well when they can, to better manage any long-term conditions effectively and to make it as easy as possible to know the right service to access.
The NHS 111 service is available 24/7 and free to call if you need urgent medical advice. We will be working closely with NHS 111, which is provided by the North East Ambulance Service, as we develop new models of care in Northumberland. We want to make sure the call handlers you speak to know exactly where they can refer you, whatever the time of day or night, with the ambition of bookable urgent care appointment slots so that you can be seen promptly if you need urgent help.
xLocal urgent care
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to access urgent help within your local community and make sure we are maximising the facilities we already have across Northumberland - 24/7 urgent care centres at Hexham and Wansbeck general hospitals, as well as minor injury units at our community hospitals in Alnwick, Blyth, Berwick, and Haltwhistle. To do this we want to explore the possibility of creating locality-based hubs which can look after your urgent needs quickly, as well as providing more planned care closer to your home.
For those people who are living with a long-term health problem or who have very complex or multiple needs, then we want to make sure that we can provide a rapid response when their condition deteriorates which avoids the need for an emergency hospital admission. This means working in a different way so that professionals are able to respond to you locally and that patients know exactly what to do and who to call if they need urgent help or advice.
xExtended GP access
We are working with all 44 GP practices across Northumberland to gain a greater understanding of the potential to extend access to primary care and GP services in the evening and at weekends across Northumberland. We also want to know your views as to how we can improve access to GP and are encouraging everyone living across Northumberland to complete our online survey (click here).
xPrimary care services
Primary care is used to describe people’s first point of contact with the NHS and around 90 per cent of patient interaction is with primary care services. As well as GP practices, primary care covers local pharmacies or chemists, opticians and dental practices. As well as improving access to GP services, we want to explore how we can work better with other primary care services and make best use of their expertise – for example, by exploring the possibility of more pharmacists working in the community and with GP colleagues.
xSocial care assessment / bespoke care planning
For the most vulnerable patients we look after, many of whom are frail elderly people, we want to make sure that services are planned around their individual needs and that we have individualised care plans in place to support them to stay well. Key to this will be making sure that the professionals involved in their care have access to the most up-to-date information and that we develop locality-based teams who can proactively manage those with the most complex needs.
xLocal diagnostics and clinics
Our aim is to make sure as much of your care as possible can be delivered locally and we want to maximise the use of our general and community hospitals and other local facilities to deliver care closer to you. A key part of this vision will see the creation of locality-based integrated teams of nursing, mental health and home care staff, working together with medical leadership from GPs and consultants.
xMental health and other community specialists
Many health specialists are hospital based and involve patients having to travel to see the person who has the expertise to help them. We would like to develop more community-based specialists who can visit people in their own homes or at a more local venue to care for their patients and provide specialist advice.
xRehabiltation and support in community hospitals
We want to maximise the use of our community hospitals in Alnwick, Berwick, Blyth, Haltwhistle, Morpeth and Rothbury as we know they are much valued by local people. The hospitals provide ongoing inpatient care to those requiring a longer stay in hospital to recover from illness or injury – this is often frail, elderly people. They also provide a range of diagnostic tests, outpatient clinics covering a vast array of specialties, including specialist end of life care. We want to explore how we can make these services even better by joining up different parts of our system to provide more care locally.
x999 emergency or urgent GP admission
With advances in technology and medicine, the treatment of emergency patients starts from the moment paramedics arrive with a patient. The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust provides emergency care for people who have called 999 and need a blue light emergency ambulance in Northumberland – anyone needing emergency admission is taken to The Northumbria hospital. As well as blue light ambulance arrivals, GPs can also refer their patients for emergency treatment at The Northumbria hospital– sometimes these patients may also arrive by ambulance or they may arrive themselves if they have been safely advised to do so.
xHome Therapy Service
We already provide many therapy services in peoples’ own homes such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy and we want to build on this success when this makes sense for patients and carers. By supporting people to stay at home and live independently whether they are recovering from illness or injury, or living with a long-term problem or life limiting condition, we want to empower people to stay in control, live as independently as possible and to have their care delivered in the most convenient way for them.
xSocial care support at home
Adult social care services in Northumberland are already well integrated and staff work very closely with hospital and community healthcare colleagues. We want to build on the success of this positive working relationship and go further to make sure that any people who need social care have the right package of support wrapped around them and personalised to their individual needs. This also means thinking about support for carers and how we can work even more closely with the third / voluntary sector so that people can stay happy and well in their local community.
xHome nursing visits
We employ thousands of district nurses and specialist nurses who visit patients in their own homes every year. We know that patients who are living with a long-term condition or a life-limiting condition such as cancer can experience lots of different professionals coming to visit them at home and care can often feel disjointed. We want to streamline this experience so that the professionals looking after you at home have the most up-to-date information about your care and the ability to address all of your needs without you having to wait for another professional to visit.
x999 Emergency or Urgent GP Admission
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xSpecialist Telephone Advice and Single Point of Access
The health and care system in Northumberland has an established ‘single point of access’ which professionals use to make referrals to adult social care and community nursing services and to access an immediate response service if a patient needs urgent help to avoid an unnecessary admissions to hospital. There are also a number of specialist advice lines for GPs to access direct consultant advice and support on their patients for a range of specialties to ensure they receive the most appropriate care - either supported at home, in the community or through a hospital assessment. We want to build on this successful work and make it even easier for both professionals and patients themselves to access telephone advice when they need it.
xUnified patient record
Key to the success of our ambitions for Northumberland will be the creation of a shared health record which, as a patient, you can also have access to so that you feel more in control of your health and care. This unified patient record will be shared with all professionals involved in your care – from GPs to paramedics, and hospital consultants to community nursing and adult social care tams. By making sure all teams have access to your most up-to-date information, you will no longer have to ‘repeat your story’ to every professional you come into contact with.
As well as a unified patient record we also would like to make sure that different professionals across health and social care can work in a joined-up way to support you. To do this we need to make it easier for teams across different organisation to work more effectively together, be removing some of the organisational boundaries that have prevented us from doing this in the past. Staff from all organisations will gain a greater understand of the challenges faced by colleagues in other parts of the ‘system’, providing an opportunity to innovate, learn new skills and develop ideas together on how to continually improve patient care.
x7 day emergency care at The Northumbria
The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital provides specialist consultant-led emergency care seven days a week and is the first purpose-built hospital of its kind in the NHS dedicated to caring for those who are most seriously ill or injured:
• emergency medicine consultants are on site 24/7
• specialty consultants work seven days a week from 8am until 8pm
• patients are receiving faster diagnosis, resulting in improved outcomes and less time spent in hospital
• 24/7 urgent care centres at Wansbeck, Hexham (and North Tyneside) provide urgent care for walk-in patients with less serious problems
xSpecialised services at Newcastle Hospitals
A number of specialised hospital services are run by Newcastle Hospitals on behalf of people living in Northumberland and the whole of the North East. These include, for example, the Institute of Transplantation, the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and the Great North Children’s Hospital. Some other specialised services, for example inpatient care for the regional eating disorder services, are also provided via Newcastle hospitals in partnership with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.
xPlanned and ongoing care in general hospitals
As well as 24/7 urgent care centres, general hospitals at Wansbeck, Hexham (and North Tyneside) provide many services for people who are coming into hospital for planned care or who are recovering from an illness or injury and need to stay in hospital following an emergency admission to The Northumbria. General hospitals provide a full range of diagnostic testing, inpatient wards and outpatient clinics covering a vast array of specialties.