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Healthwatch Hartlepool Newsletter - December 2020


Do you need to go to A&E? Call NHS 111 first 

The NHS is providing a new and more convenient way for you to access urgent care from the1st December. Find out what this means for you and your loved ones.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, crowded waiting rooms are also putting patients and hospital staff at risk of catching COVID-19.

The NHS wants to make it easier and safer for patients to get the right treatment when they need it, without waiting a long time to be seen in A&E. 

How will the service work?

From the 1st December 2020, the NHS has introduced a new system called NHS 111 First.

If you have an urgent, but not life-threatening health problem you should contact NHS 111 First to find out if you need to go to A&E.

NHS 111 can book you an appointment at your local A&E or emergency department. This means you will have an allocated time to attend hospital and be treated, so you don’t have to wait a long time to be seen and can also help services avoid becoming overcrowded.

Your NHS 111 advisor or clinician could also make you a direct appointment with a GP, Pharmacist or Urgent Treatment Centre. They may also be able to give you the advice you need without using another service. 

What will this mean for you?

If your condition is not life-threatening, NHS 111 may direct you to a more appropriate service or one that can see you sooner. You may also be asked to wait at home until the emergency department is ready to see you, avoiding a long wait in A&E for you and helping to prevent overcrowding. If you need an urgent face-to-face assessment or treatment, NHS 111 should be able to arrange this immediately for you. 

How do you use NHS 111 First?

You can contact NHS 111 either online or by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is free to use, including from a mobile phone.

Call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk

Other ways to contact 111

Text relay - Call 18001 111 using text relay, 24 hours a day.

British sign language (BSL)  - Use interpreternow.co.uk/nhs111  

The Dementia Advisory service based at The Bridge, Villiers Street, Hartlepool, TS24 7ZA.

Each Friday from 2.30 to 3.30 we host an online Zoom session for clients/ family/friends to join. We have a quiz or similar topic but it’s mainly for our clients to have the opportunity to see each other on screen.

“We are the voice of people living with dementia in Hartlepool wanting to banish the stigmas attached to the disease and help others who are in the same position.

This blog is for people living with dementia and their family and friends who want a safe place to connect and ask questions and also have some positivity sent their way from people on the same journey. All of the information in this blog will be taken from people living with dementia or their families and friends to shed some light on frequently asked questions people have after a diagnosis. We just thought what better way to find out information and advice than from the people living through the same experiences as yourself”.

The link for the website is https://ourvoicematters414794957.wordpress.com/about-us/

We have also created a booklet “where to turn”, which is for people living in Hartlepool who may have a memory impairment or dementia and their families and friends. It focuses on the services available in Hartlepool. It is currently at the printers and we are expecting copies soon which will be available here at The Bridge.

Unfortunately at the moment there are no groups returning but the team are having conversations around starting walking groups and looking at other alternatives.

The Bridge is still continuing with telephone support, call 01429 868587

Healthwatch Volunteer Steering Group

Meetings are always held in public at the ORCEL Centre, Wynyard Road, Hartlepool.

Our first 2021 meeting is scheduled for 10am on the 19th January, 2021.

Subsequent meetings will be held on the 3rd Tuesday of every month throughout 2021.

Members of the public wanting to attend must book a place in advance and observe social distancing rules on arrival at the venue. To book a place contact Healthwatch Hartlepool 01429 – 288146 

Looking after our Mental Health

There are times when we all feel the strain, and this has been particularly evident during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But its important Hartlepool residents realise they are not alone in these challenging times. 

Hartlepool Support Hub

Hartlepool Support Hub is here to help residents classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to stay safe, stay well and stay connected.

Clinically extremely vulnerable residents can contact the Support Hub by: Phone: 01429 272905

(10am – 4pm Mondays to Fridays)

Email: helping@hartlepool.gov.uk

The requirement for CEV is different to the previous shielding programme, therefore the Support Hub is adapting to meet the needs of this cohort of individuals. 

Dentistry and the impact of COVID-19

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Healthwatch across the country have seen a significant increase in the number of people reporting problems when trying to get an NHS dentist appointment, suggesting the impact the pandemic has had on dentistry has been particularly acute.

Between July and September 2020, we heard from 1,313 people about their experiences of dentistry, compared to just 238 people in the previous three months. Their stories show that often they were unable to get the care they needed, leaving them in pain and at risk of serious long-term oral health issues:

What did people us?

Access to dental care - the pandemic has made it difficult for most people to access both routine and emergency dental services, with many feeling unsure about when they would next see a dentist or leaving others to travel long distances to get care.

No routine care - although dental practices have now reopened, people are still unable to get an appointment for check-ups, hygienist appointments or fillings.

Limited NHS appointments - people have reported struggling to access NHS dentistry because practices are either not taking on new NHS patients or have no available NHS appointments.

Treatment still on hold - in some cases, dentists have not been able to continue treatment started before lockdown, meaning people have been left in pain and with unresolved issues, like a broken tooth.

Access to emergency treatment - people have told us they can’t get through to their dentist when they need urgent care or are unable to access treatment if they do not meet the criteria for it.

Affordability - our evidence suggests practices are prioritising private patients over NHS ones or are only offering non-urgent treatment if they pay privately.

Lack of information - inaccurate information from the NHS 111, NHS Choices and dental practice websites can leave people frustrated and confused.

Confusion about registration - a dental practice cannot de-register someone, but often people who have had a long gap since their last appointment are told they have been, when really what the dental practice means is that there are no available NHS appointments. 

COVID-19 measures - while practices did adapt once they reopened, not all of them understood how COVID-19 measures would impact some groups of people or didn’t follow all the measures needed to make people feel safe.

4% of people also told us about positive experiences of dental care, praising staff who were helpful, kind and considerate and highlighting that clear and regular information from dental practices made them feel reassured.

Find out what the public has been telling us about health and social care from July - September 2020, including, the support provided in care homes, getting Covid 19 Tests, and the issues people have faced accessing NHS dental services by visiting the following link; www.healthwatch.co.uk 

Looking after someone? Know your rights

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it's been estimated that across the UK there are 13.5 million unpaid carers. Many people are unaware of their rights as a carer and, as a result, are not accessing the help and support they are entitled to.

Having the right information and advice is vital to ensure that carers don't miss out on financial and practical help that they are entitled to.

Get a benefits check

Get a full benefits check to see what financial support you may be entitled to. The Carer's Allowance is the main carer's benefit, but this could also include tax credits, council tax discounts or help with fuel costs.

You can get a personalised benefits check online. It will take about 20 minutes to complete.

Visit; https://www.carersuk.org/

Find out about practical support

Caring for a loved one can be very physically and mentally demanding, so it's important to find out about what practical support is available. This could be anything from equipment to make caring easier or information about local support groups that can help. All carers are entitled to a carer’s assessment from their local council. 

Connect with others

Caring can be very isolating, but there are lots of different ways that you can connect with people in similar situations. You can find local support groups for you to attend in person, or benefit from the wealth of online forums.

To find out more about your rights, tailored to your situation, take a look at Upfront - Carers UK's online tool, or read their Carers’ Rights Guide

For more information Visit; https://www.carersuk.org/ 

Unhappy with your NHS treatment or care?

Please call 01429 - 288146 or

Freephone: 0808 802 3000

For further information please visit; www.carersfederation.co.uk

Email: ica@carersfederation.co.uk 

Healthwatch Hartlepool would like to wish everyone a Happy Xmas and a prosperous New Year.



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