Monthly Archives: May 2016

Stay safe in the sun this Bank Holiday

Another Bank Holiday is upon us. I hope that we manage to get some sunshine. If we do get some better weather, UV levels will be high so please remember to avoid the midday sun, apply high factor sunscreen , and  wear a hat.  With my ginger hair and fair complexion,  I know only too well the pain of sunburn, but I also now know the increased risk of skin cancer if we aren’t careful to avoid sun damage, so I will be slapping on the factor 50.

If it’s hot enough to get out the barbecue, it’s also worth remembering to ensure that all meat and food is properly cooked through to avoid any unwanted unpleasant tummy upsets.

I hope you’re all able to enjoy a good weekend break. Some of us will be unlucky enough to become unwell and will have cause to seek medical help or advice. If you or your family have an urgent health need and your GP surgery is closed  please ring NHS  111 and they will advise you on the best course of action and  where you need to go. The STAR –(South Tees Access and Response) scheme will have appointments that can be booked  via 111 if your health need  requires you to see a medical practitioner over the Bank Holiday weekend. Your local pharmacist may also be able to help and  advise you for treatment of any minor illness or injury. But hopefully most of  you will be  able to enjoy some of the great outdoors that  Teesside has to offer over the long weekend

Bank Holiday Pharmacy Openings

Sometimes when you or your family are unwell, you may not need to make an appointment to see your GP. So this Bank Holiday (Monday 30th May) see your local community pharmacist. They are trained medical professionals who can provide free advice on the best treatment for a wide range of illnesses and minor ailments.

They can give advice on:
• Aches and pains    • Bites and stings  • Chicken pox
• Colds    • Cold sores • Colic   • Conjunctivitis
• Constipation • Cystitis in women  • Diarrhoea • Ear wax • Eczema or dermatitis
• Haemorrhoids • Hay fever • Head Lice • Mouth ulcers • Nappy rash • Teething  • Threadworm
• Thrush   • Verrucas    • Warts



NHS 111 is also available, 24 hours a day, all year round. It is free to call from landlines and mobile phones, and the team of highly trained advisors can help with non-emergency, fast medical help. They help guide patients to the best NHS service for their medical needs. 999 should still be called for serious or life threatening medical emergencies.

See which pharmacies are open near you below, on Monday 30th May.


We continue to listen

Many of you will have been involved in our consultation events around our plans for urgent care. The consultation report has just been published and is now available on the here. 

Some of you have been to events in May around larger scale health development plans across Durham, Darlington and Tees for the future.

This is called the ‘Better Health Programme’.

It is in the engagement phase of development, with all plans being shaped by what you feed into us. We gathered lots of information from events in February that have shaped where the plans have moved to, this is what we have been speaking to you about this week.

In essence the plans are around ensuring that we have hospital services of a high quality, so that when you have a health need and are treated in hospital, you are able to be seen by the right professional, with the level of skills you require and you get the best outcome.

Sometimes this will be receiving a highly specialised service that needs to have centralisation of expertise. Other times, say for a planned operation,  ideally you would go to a more local hospital that was not dealing with emergencies, meaning if you have an operation planned, it is less likely to be cancelled due to bed space.

Most of us spend very little time in a hospital setting during our life, where most help is needed, is in the community and primary care.  This is what the Better Health Programme calls the ‘not in Hospital’ part of the programme.

Readers of the website may already know about our IMProVE programme that focuses on providing more care at home or in the community setting, and we can now offer so much more with enhanced nursing , therapies and social care to enable patients to remain in their own homes, but we need to develop our plans further .

Please visit here for more information on IMProVE.

Local people have their say on plans to extend GP services in South Tees

Local people have had their say on plans by the local NHS to extend access to GP services across the South Tees area.

Following a formal public consultation held by NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that ran from January to April 2016, nearly 2000 questionnaire responses were received from local people.

Those responses have been analysed and presented to the CCG in an independent report, which will be discussed by the CCG’s Governing Body on 25 May 2016. The report is available at

The report will then be shared with key partners such as Middlesbrough Council, Redcar & Cleveland Council, Healthwatch and Health and Wellbeing Boards. The report will also be considered by the Joint South Tees Health Scrutiny Committee on 10 June 2016.

Options for consultation

The formal public consultation, called ‘Making Health Simple: Right place, first time’, asked people to have their say on:

  • Whether GP services should be extended to 8pm or 9.30pm during the week and from 8am to 8pm or 9.30pm at weekends, offering 7 day access to GP services;
  • The number of extended hours GP centres those services should be delivered from – 4,6 or 8 and in which area they could be located (replacing Walk in Centres at North Ormesby and Eston Grange);
  • The introduction of a GP in front of A&E to treat or signpost appropriate patients to alternative primary care services, freeing up A&E for those with the greatest need.

Public feedback

The full consultation report is available to download at The report details public feedback on the consultation. A summary is provided below:

The majority (53.7%) of respondents supported Option Two (the CCG’s preferred option). This option comprised:

  • 4 Extended Hours GP Centres open from 6pm to 9.30pm weekdays and 8am to 9.30pm at weekends, replacing walk in centres at North Ormesby and Eston Grange;
  • A GP working at the front of the A&E department at James Cook University Hospital;
  • GP out of hours service reduced to 9.30pm to 8am, 7 days a week;
  • GP led minor injuries units with x-ray (James Cook University Hospital open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and Redcar Primary Care Hospital open 8am to 9.30pm, 7 days a week – reduced from 24 hour opening to reflect the significant reduction in patient demand after 9.30pm).

Given the options available, most respondents appear to value longer opening hours for the extended hours GP centres rather than having more extended hours GP centres.

Over half of respondents (56.7%) agreed that the proposals reflected the pre-engagement public feedback. 7.8% disagreed, saying they were unaware of the pre-engagement and 35.5% were unsure.

61.7% of respondents agreed that the proposals best met future urgent care needs. 9.1% disagreed, believing the proposals didn’t address the difficulty in accessing GPs and 9.1% were unsure.

54.2% thought that the proposals would reduce confusion and provide seamless urgent care services. 12.9% disagreed, suggesting it was yet another service change in a confusing health care service and 32.9% were unsure.

As a whole, the allocation of the extended hours GP centres reflected the population split across those four areas.

Themes from public feedback

There were 2,541 comments recorded in the consultation survey responses. These have been allocated to themes – consistent issues that were raised on multiple occasions by the majority of respondents.

People who supported the CCG’s proposals made the fewest comments. Those who disagreed with the process or the proposals recorded the most comments.

Some of the themes were:

  • GP access;
  • Walk in centres;
  • Consultation process;
  • GP at the front of A&E;
  • Travel and transport;
  • Resources.

How feedback was gathered

The CCG embarked on a comprehensive programme of communications and engagement activity to raise awareness of the consultation and highlight ways in which local people could participate and have their say. This activity is detailed in the consultation report.

Dr Nigel Rowell, a local GP and member of the CCG’s Governing Body said: “I’d like to thank everyone who took part in our consultation, to those who completed the survey that dropped through their letterbox, or attended one of our public meetings your views and experiences have been a valuable part of our work to improve urgent care services across South Tees and introduce 7 day access to primary care ahead of the Government’s timeline of 2020.

“Having received the independent report of the consultation, we’ll now take time to fully consider the contents of the report and ensure that those views are fed into our decision making process. Our Governing Body meets on 25 May to discuss the report, and from then we will share the report with key partners and stakeholders.

“We’ll then take the report to the South Tees Health Scrutiny Joint Committee on 10 June and ask for their formal response. After that, the CCG’s Governing Body will receive a report outlining a number of recommendations that will include public feedback from the consultation as a key component and make a decision on the future of urgent care services on 6 July.”


For further information, please contact the NECS communications and engagement team on 07826 531333, 01642 745401 or email


Questions and answers

Public feedback supports the CCG’s preferred option. Does that mean that this will be the option the CCG approve in July?

At the moment, we can’t second guess the Governing Body’s decision. The public consultation report outlines feedback from nearly 2,000 surveys as well as other feedback captured from our engagement with minority, marginalised and disadvantaged groups and communities. That feedback will be crucial in influencing the Governing Body’s decision.

How will I find out about the final decision?

All of the CCG’s Governing Body meetings are held in public and people are very welcome to attend to observe the CCG’s business. If you would like to attend the meeting, please let us know in advance so we can make appropriate arrangements. The meeting will take place in the Board Room of

Community Innovation Fund Winners 2016

NHS South Tees CCG is delighted to announce winners of the Community Innovations Fund. The CCG identified a sum of money (£200,000) to be made available for community based innovations and schemes that will support the CCG in delivering its primary purpose of improving the health and wellbeing of the population of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland.

This year, the CCG asked for bids that supported its commitment to reducing preventable differences in health, known as health inequalities.

We will be following the progress of the winners throughout the year, so come back for updates.

Find a full list of winners below:

Community Innovation Fund winners 2016

ESOL For Life – Middlesbrough Environment City

Tell us briefly about your group.

The core project team is lead by Middlesbrough Environment City who is working in partnership with Investing in People and Culture & WorldSight Media, bringing together expertise from health, education, film production, IT and cultural knowledge and insight for the development and implementation of “ESOL for Life”.  The team also includes volunteers from the migrant community as actors for short films which are integral to the sessions. Additional health expertise is accessed as required.

What does the money mean to your organisation and the community?

The funding allows us the opportunity to roll out the delivery of the resource to people living in Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland where English is not their first language, and also to develop the resource further by creating more sessions aligned to identified  key health priorities across Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland.

The nature of the project means that the learning from it will continue beyond it’s current life it will be made widely available to teachers of ESOL classes and we plan to develop the resource to ensure it is a high quality, cost effective, accessible resource.

What do we plan to do with it?

To provide wide access to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) for Life sessions to people living in Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland where English is not their first language. The sessions will cover key issues relating to health and access to health services supporting individuals to increase their knowledge of local services, the correct use of these services. They will also to promote self management by increasing skills and knowledge and encourage uptake of preventative services.

Why is there a need for this work?

According to the 2011 census Middlesbrough had a BME population of above 12%. However since then there have been increasing numbers of eastern European migrants settling in the area and asylum seekers being placed in Middlesbrough.

The North East Strategic Migration Partnership has been advised that the north east will be receiving more Syrian refugees, impacting on Middlesbrough as one of the main receiving authorities in the region

Liaison with our partner, Investing in People and Culture, has identified that there are currently around 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees in Middlesbrough, of which around 700 have English language needs.

Consultation with VCO’s and representatives from BME communities in Middlesbrough held in October 2013 identified diverse and unmet health needs amongst BME communities. In response to the consultation, South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group and Middlesbrough Public Health commissioned BME insight research to identify the unmet health and social care needs of BME communities living in Middlesbrough. One of the key findings and recommendations was for access to free English classes for those for whom English was not their first language. Limited English skills and short length of time living in the UK were directly linked to a lack of knowledge and uptake of health and social services in Middlesbrough.

Who will benefit from the service?

As well as open sessions, additional classes will be run exclusively for women who are often excluded from current ESOL sessions due to cultural restrictions and childcare responsibilities.

A major challenge for CCGs and public health is the misuse of urgent care services such as A&E and late presentation for preventable illnesses. The correct use of services and a better understanding of the prevention and screening services available is a core theme underpinning “ESOL for Life”.

The nature of the project means that the learning from it will continue beyond its current life it will be made widely available to teachers of ESOL classes and we plan to develop the resource to ensure it is a high quality, cost effective, accessible resource.

Promoting Equality in Access to Services – The Regional Refugee Forum North East

Tell us about briefly about your group

The Regional Refugee Forum North East is an independent grass roots membership organisation created in 2004 by and for the North East’s refugee-led community organisations (RCOs). It provides a mechanism for hearing their authentic Collective Advocate Voice with the aim of influencing policy and practice to reduce hardship, inequality and discrimination arising from both UK Asylum Policy and mainstream policy & practice impacting on their lives as local residents and users of local services.

Our organisation is unique in that it seeks to promote equality in access to services and outcomes through closing gaps between the asylum seeker & refugee community and health services rather than seeking to fill those gaps with funding-dependent specialist or bridging services. We believe this capacity building approach maximises the number of beneficiaries and secures sustainable and long term change.

What does the money mean to your organisation and the community?

Last year our Health Working Group, composed of volunteers from across our member organisations, worked hard to raise awareness amongst health services about the deterioration in mental health that asylum seekers and refugees experience after they arrive in the region and also about long term health risks that the community faces from a sudden change in lifestyle. They believe there are ways of preventing both these distinct health issues that lead to health inequalities for this community, but it is essential to involve the Refugee Community itself in bringing about this change. This grant from the CCG allows us to empower the refugee community in Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, through its Community Organisations, to be actors in bringing about this change, rather than merely passive recipients.

The project is specifically designed to establish new relationships between the 9 RCOs and health services and launch a process of collaboration which, by delivering mutual benefit to both RCOs and Health agencies, will continue beyond the end of the project itself

What do you plan to do with it?

Over 6 months our project will broker direct relations between the 9 Refugee-led Community Organisations (RCOs) who work across the South Tees area and those who design and deliver health services for the local community. It will help both sides identify mutual value in working together collaboratively to reduce health inequalities and improve health outcomes, and it will help them translate this understanding into practical collaborative action.

In the course of developing this collaborative work, the project will identify what successful and early intervention looks like in practical reality, who must it involve, what are its essential elements, and who needs to make what decisions or commitment of resources for it to happen. This learning about ‘successful models of collaborative working’ will be shared with health agencies and RCOs from across the North East region at a final workshop to promote transfer of good practice across the whole region. It will also be captured in a DVD that it can be used to guide future commissioning work and service delivery. We will also share learning with Strategic Migration Partnerships across the UK.

Why is there a need for this work?

In a survey of the region’s refugee led and refugee assisting voluntary & community sector carried out by the RRF in 2015 for the North East Migration Partnership, preventing deterioration in health and in mental health amongst Asylum Seekers after arrival in the region ranked 2nd of all issues, whilst securing equality for Refugees in Health & Wellbeing ranked 4th. Our members identified both as priority issues shared across the diversity of refugee communities in the region.

Traumatic events experienced in countries of origin and on the journey to safety, and the stress and anxiety created by the asylum system under which they live in the UK whilst awaiting a decision about their lives present distinct challenges to mental health once in the UK.  Too often there is a slide into mental health deterioration which has a long term legacy. RCOs want to play a role in preventing a slide to self-isolation, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide. Our members believe this escalation can be prevented if there is early detection and a timely and appropriate range of support interventions that respond to the evidence and recommendations of RCOs, and which also include RCOs as a partner in delivery of that change.

In addition, this community faces distinct challenges to managing long term health once in the UK, with risks of diabetes and heart disease from poor and poorly adapted diet and the forced inactivity that characterize the lifestyle of very many amongst this community. But receptivity to healthy living messages delivered by health services or their intermediaries is very low as those messages do not resonate with the community’s own perceptions on causality and treatment, and the community has a mistrust of authorities and their messengers. Only independent Peer voices, as delivered by RCOs, will receive the attention needed to change behaviour. RCOs are uniquely placed to build trust in the community and sensitise them to opportunities for looking after their long term health, such as invitations to screening and health checks.

Our members reported feeling increasingly demotivated to engage with Health services and their intermediaries to address these issues because they were being approached merely as ‘Gateways’ to assess individual needs instead of being recognised for their unique value as partners in identifying and delivering solutions to the community.   And they were frustrated at being approached by intermediary agencies or other projects with demands to bring the community to them, without any prior discussion of needs or approaches of partnership.  Whilst the Home Office has control over their futures, asylum seekers find it hard to trust any messenger acting on behalf of the authorities, whether paid or voluntary.

Who will benefit in the community?

The membership of the 9 RCOs who will participate in the project will benefit directly from this project, as well as refugee families from Syria being resettled in the area  – so members of the South

We Can Talk

One in four of us will struggle with our emotional health at some time in our lives. With times being tough on Teesside with unemployment, are you bottling things up?

If you are having a rough time at the moment, you are not alone, help and support is available.

South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group has created a dedicated website to provide information for self-referral into mental health support to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, 16-22 May, 2016.

Over 3500 people have completed a course of treatment in the last year. Most people completing treatment in South Tees CCG are now recovering. provides information on providers, support and guidance on what you may be going through. It also encourages family members to spot the signs that loved ones may need a little bit of help.

Signs could be if you are generally feeling down? Having problems sleeping or eating? Or concerned about managing your money?

Things like this could be having an effect on the way you think, feel and behave and it can be frightening if it’s happening to you. It could be stopping you enjoying the things that you usually like to do.

Catherine from Voices for Choices, a local group that represents people with mental health issues thinks the new website will enable people to find help easier:

“Ask yourself ‘are you bottling things up?’ If you or the people around you have noticed a change in the way you react to setbacks and challenges, if you are getting angry, or giving up when usually you would have coped then it might be helpful to talk to someone who is qualified to help. The website is an excellent way to find out how to get the support you need, whether it is for yourself or for someone you care about.”

Catherine Haigh

Catherine Haigh from Voices for Choices


There’s help out there –you can speak directly to a local talking therapy team member.  They will talk through your worries with you and provide the best support for your particular need or you could speak to your doctor or nurse at your GP practice to seek help.

Local GP and chair of South Tees CCG, Dr Janet Walker also welcomes the site. ‘If you’re just not feeling yourself or you’ve been low or anxious, have a look at the website . There are really easy to follow links to read about your symptoms and how you can get help. It’s great and possibly quicker for you to refer yourself rather than having to see your GP first’

Find out more at

Supporting Our Nurses

I am often asked why I became a doctor. There were no doctors in my family and my parents were both teachers. The only person in the family with any medical connection was my Aunty Betty. She did her nursing training in Bradford and then went out to work in a mission hospital in Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia. Over her 40 year nursing career she seems to have experienced all-sorts from being a theatre nurse assisting with operations, a health visitor running mass immunisation clinics, a midwife delivering babies, to being the senior matron in charge of a hospital. But she was always about patient care and putting the patient first. She really was an inspiration to me and she encouraged me to keep working and not give up my dream of becoming a doctor.

I have been fortunate to work with many excellent nurses over the last 20 years and I would want us all to celebrate National Nurses’ Day on the 12th May. Nursing can be a fantastic career opportunity with so many different strands to the profession. Nursing training is available locally with health and social care diplomas at Middlesbrough and Redcar Colleges to degree courses at Teesside University. There are many job opportunities locally in Primary care from health care assistants to practice nurses to nurse practitioners, to community nurses, to mental health nurses, and health visitors. Hospital nursing includes nurse consultants, specialist nurses and many many more. Maybe like my Aunty you are interested in working abroad, and there are opportunities to travel as a nurse within the Armed Forces if that appealed.

Many years ago I worked in a nursing home for work experience and whilst I still remember how to do very neat hospital corners when bed making, nursing has really changed since then. Could this be the career for you?

At the CCG we have asked our nursing colleagues to share with us some of their experiences for National Nurses’ Day. Please visit our website to read them If you are interested in learning more about a career in nursing please visit

Doctors ask public to think twice before visiting A&E



NHS in High Demand

The NHS across the north east is currently experiencing significant demand for help and doctors are asking the public to think carefully before calling 999 or attending accident and emergency departments.

There are increased cases of flu at the moment, as well as diarrhoea and vomiting, but these can easily be treated without visiting a hospital.

Dr Stewart Findlay, chair of the North East Urgent and Emergency Care network, said: “A&E departments are only for those who need emergency treatment while less urgent problems can be dealt with by visiting a pharmacy or if you are unsure what to do, phone 111.

“However, if the symptoms continue then you should contact your GP.”

Increased Holiday Demand

Demand for NHS services goes up during any holiday period, so it’s crucial that services are kept available for people who need them most. We all need to help reduce unnecessary demand on our emergency services.

Dr Findlay added: “Most normally healthy people with a common illness do not need to see their GP, attend A&E and absolutely do not need to call 999. Flu, colds, sore throats, headaches, hangovers, upset stomachs, coughs, aches, pains, diarrhoea and vomiting should all be treated at home or with advice from a local pharmacist, with painkillers, rest and plenty of fluids.

“That way you help to reduce the spread of viruses and also keep appointments available for people with serious health conditions who must see a doctor or a nurse.”

More Information

For more information about keeping well in winter, visit or call NHS 111.