Welcome to your July Newsletter from Healthwatch Sunderland

Healthwatch Sunderland is a champion for consumer voices in health and social care. Our aim is to ensure that everyone has a voice in the way health and social care services are planned and provided locally.

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. If you would like to get involved with our work or give feedback on a personal experience, please contact our team directly.

Meet the newest members of our team
Anna Gillingham, Engagement Officer
Rabia Tilt, Engagement Officer
As part of the engagement team for Healthwatch we will be looking to raise awareness of Healthwatch through information stands and leafleting as well as placing posters in relevant organisations. This is to ensure that health and social care services are shaped by the views and experiences of Service Users. Volunteers will be playing a big part in this role and in terms of sourcing  information their expertise in this area is invaluable.
We will also be carrying out Enter and View in 5 Extra Care Homes.  Enter and View is the process we carry out where trained individuals, known as Enter and View Authorised Representatives, access a service, make observations, collect views and produce a report. The purpose and remit for this particular Enter and View will be to look at exploring the relationship between the residents and the service provider regarding involvement and decision making.
We are holding the following stand, come along and visit us: 
  • HOPS, 30 Roker Park Rd, Sunderland SR6 9PG on 13th July 2016, 4-7pm.
We will be able to provide you with all the information you will need on:
  • Accessing Health and Social Care services that are right for you.
  • Who to go to, should you have a complaint or require any sign posting advice.
  • Work carried out previously in the past year and our upcoming work plan.
  • How to become a volunteer with us.
And remember we are always here to listen and receive feedback from you on your experiences of health and social care provision.
Click Here to Reserve your place
Help us shape our future priorities:
To help us choose what areas of health and social care you want us to look at more closely, please choose from one of the six options below.  We will use your top three most important themes to discuss at our public event on 27th July at the Winter Gardens - Come along and have your say! 
Waiting Times for a GP Appointment
Services in your own home / Domiciliary Care Services
Hospital Discharge Experience
Disabled Access within Healthcare Services
Seeking Help from your GP for Mental Health Issues
Mental Health Services
Healthwatch Meets Sunderland Eye Infirmary
This year Sunderland Eye Infirmary celebrates 180 Years of being open, moving to their current premises in April 1946.
Healthwatch Sunderland presents Sunderland Eye Infirmary with a certificate to show appreciation from the public for the services they provide and the amazing work the staff undertake every day.
This month we went along to visit Sunderland Eye Infirmary to present a certificate of congratulation for all the positive feedback from the public and amazing work they carry out.  

The feedback was collected through online and postal surveys and telephone calls into Healthwatch Sunderland alongside data collected from Patient Opinion, NHS Choices, Google Reviews, CQC Inspection Report and the Friends and Family Test.

Sunderland Eye Infirmary provides a whole range of ophthalmic services for the population of Sunderland and the immediate surrounding area and is also a sub regional centre, servicing the population of the North East of England.

It is the home of the only 24/7 dedicated Ophthalmic Accident and Emergency Unit servicing the North East treating approximately 30,000 patients per year who present with conditions ranging from minor irritations to major ocular trauma.

Further outpatient clinics are held at South Tyneside, Durham and Hartlepool. As a consequence of this referral rate, over 8000 patients are admitted or undergo surgery at the Eye Infirmary each year.
Sunderland Eye Infirmary also has an Accident and Emergency Department which operates 24-hour, 7-day service in Sunderland Eye Infirmary. All patients are triaged on presenting at reception. When triaged you would be seen by either an experienced ophthalmic nurse practitioner for further assessment and treatment, or an eye doctor.

Experienced and fully trained nurses undertake minor operation procedures within the Eye Infirmary.
Sunderland Royal Hospital Update: 

After receiving some complaints about the facilities of the temporary Accident & Emergency Department put in place at Sunderland Royal Hospital whilst it undergoes it’s building work, Healthwatch made contact with the hospital to raise awareness of these concerns and issues. 
The feedback received 
centered around the dissatisfaction regarding the seating provided in the waiting areas which was insufficient during busy periods and the long distance members of the public had to walk from the front of the hospital to the waiting area.
  • Representatives of the hospital responded positively to this information and invited Healthwatch staff along to the hospital so they could be shown around the department in person which would help to explain how they would resolve some of the issues brought up.
  • Staff found this process very beneficial and as a result of the visit and discussions with staff the waiting area now has extra seating put in place.  
  • They will also be introducing a radio to help with the ambient sound which will help with confidentiality and in addition a more efficient process has been put into place, ensuring that people are seen much quicker and won’t need to be in the waiting area as long.
  • They also acknowledged that the distance from the front of the building to the waiting area isn’t ideal but have advised anyone requiring any assistance to make it known to hospital staff.

Patient Participation Group Awareness Week - 06 - 11 June 2016

Our PPG Coordinator Kelly Wilson along with several of our Healthwatch Volunteers held information stands across several GP practices across Sunderland to promote PPG awareness week. PPG Awareness Week aims to promote the role and benefits of PPGs to patients, the public and health professionals, to create more understanding of the value of true patient participation.

Holding the information stands gave us the opportunity to reach out to patients face to face and give them a better insight into PPG’s. We also had the opportunity to speak with reception staff to find out how much they knew about PPG’s and what they would advise patients who showed an interest.

We had a very good response from patients who were interested to find out about PPGs with some practices managing to recruit new patient members for both their ‘actual’ and ‘virtual’ group.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all practice staff and patients who were involved and eagerly accepted our support.

Can I join the Patient Participation Group?
s part of our work to support GP practices in creating vibrant and proactive Patient Participation Groups (PPGs), we wanted to find out from a patient perspective how easy it would be to find out information from their local practice – specifically when the next PPG group was meeting, so that a patient could come along to it.
During May 2016, the Healthwatch Sunderland team telephoned 32 of the 51 practices throughout the five Sunderland localities, asking when their next PPG was.
On average our calls were answered in under two minutes, and in all bar one case, we were greeted in a friendly manner.
When we asked when their next PPG would be held, only 6 (19%) of the receptionists who answered our calls were able to provide us with that information. The other 81% were unable to provide dates, and we were advised to call back and speak to the Practice Manager – only six of the 26 practices who were unable to help us took our details for the Practice Manager to ring us with the details of the next PPG meeting.
Eighteen of the receptionists (56%) had an understanding of what a PPG is, but 44% (14 practices) had no idea what a PPG was.
During our meetings with practice and patient leads for the PPGs, we will be using this information to help them train their staff to be more welcoming, and more knowledgeable to patients who are interested in joining a PPG.
This information will also be shared with the CCG to agree what they can do to support training of admin / reception staff, in their regular ‘Time In / Time Out’ sessions.
Healthwatch Sunderland Executive Board Meeting:
Date:  5th August 2016
Time:  1.30-3.30pm
Venue:  Healthwatch Sunderland, Stanfield Business Centre, Addison Street, Sunderland, SR2 8SZ

If you are interested in attending please contact us at: by 29th July 2016 expressing your interest and any questions which you would like to submit.
For up to date information from Healthwatch Sunderland
Follow us on Twitter:  @HWSunderland
CQC launches #YourMentalHealthCare campaign

According the mental health charity Mind, nearly 1 in 4 people in England will experience a mental health problem this year.
CQC want people who are seeking treatment and support for low mood, anxiety, stress and other mental health conditions to tell them about their experiences of health and social care as you may know a lot about the quality of care in your area.
Is it easy to make an appointment with your GP? Do you feel that you have a say in your treatment and/or support options? Do you feel healthcare professionals listen to you and take you seriously?
CQC need you to tell them about the care you are receiving, good or bad. By telling CQC about your experiences, you could stop poor care happening to someone else.
For more information about CQC’s campaign and how you can feedback about your experiences of care, visit

Healthwatch Sunderland always listens to the voice of the local population, and where there are clear trends, we can add areas of concern to our work plan to take action on your behalf. We’re committed to being recognised as the leading consumer champion of health and social care services across Sunderland.


Our helpline enables us to monitor concerns and complaints and to provide the public with information and signposting about services. Through our ability to rapidly analyse helpline data, as well as data from our general consultation, we can identify any emerging trends and provide an early response where there are areas for concern.  


For more guidance on where you should go to report an urgent issue, to make a complaint, or for further information about our signposting service please click here.

Our mailing address is:
Healthwatch Sunderland
Unit 30 & 31
Stanfield Business Centre
Addison Street

Tel: 0191 514 7145

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