Monthly Archives: March 2019

Join us for a meeting held in public this March!

Patients can join a meeting held in public involving six clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in County Durham, Tees Valley and part of North Yorkshire this March.

South Tees CCG forms part of the Joint Committee of the Southern Collaborative of CCGs, which was previously known as the Better Health Programme Joint Committee.

The following Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are partners:

  • Darlington CCG
  • Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG
  • Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees CCG
  • North Durham CCG
  • South Tees CCG
  • Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG

The joint committee is made up of governing body members of the six CCGs and will make decisions that affect the populations of those CCGs collectively.  The individual governing body meetings of the CCGs will continue to make local decisions.

Members of the public are invited to observe the Joint Committee of the Southern Collaborative of CCGs at work.

The next meeting takes place on Thursday March 21 from 9.30am unti 10.45am at Durham Indoor Bowling Club, Abbey Road, Durham DH1 5GE.

View the Joint Committee Agenda here

In order to ensure that appropriate seating is provided, please register your attendance (informing of any special requirements) with Amanda Million on 0191 389 8592 or email:

Questions for the Joint Committee of the Southern Collaborative of CCGs should be submitted to Amanda Million no later than 12pm on Monday March 18.  Questions should be relevant to the populations of the CCGs.  Any local questions should be submitted for discussion at the separate CCG Governing Body meetings.

Smokers in the North East urged to quit for No Smoking Day 2019

North East smokers are being encouraged to give quitting a go this No Smoking Day (March 13) to feel the benefits of better health and reduce the risks of smoking-related disease.

Fresh, along with North East GP Dr Chris Tasker, is urging smokers to try and make a quit attempt at least once a year to reduce their risk of heart disease, COPD and 16 types of cancer.

It also comes as the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health has called for a package of measures backed by cross-party support on the APPG to achieve a smokefree generation. These include a levy on tobacco companies, raising the age of sale of tobacco from 18 to 21, a licencing scheme for premises selling tobacco to tackle underage sales and illicit tobacco, and more scrutiny of the tobacco industry’s marketing methods.

Research shows that if someone tries to stop smoking at least once a year, it improves their chances of quitting for good. There are now more ways to quit than ever before, including electronic cigarettes, stop smoking medicines, and stop smoking services. People can also ask for help to quit at their GP surgery or local pharmacies.

Former smoker and cancer survivor Maggie Bratton, whose story went around the world in Fresh’s Quit 16 campaign, also has a warning for smokers not to leave quitting until it is too late. Maggie was diagnosed at 45 with mouth cancer and had to undergo surgery to remove the roof of her mouth. She now has to wear an obturator, which is a piece of plastic that enables her to eat and speak.

Maggie said: “For No Smoking Day, what have you got to lose? My advice is to pack smoking in for the day and take each day as it comes. If you make it through the day, go to bed, get up the next day and try again. Sooner or later, you will get it out of your system. There’s also plenty of help out there for people thinking about quitting, it’s just about finding what’s right for you.

“I just want to spread the word as far and wide as possible. Don’t end up like me, stop smoking before the dreaded cancer hits.”

Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: “There are so many good reasons to quit smoking and it is too easy to put it off to another day. No Smoking Day is a perfect time to quit when thousands of other people will be stopping as well.

“Whether you are quitting on your own, with friends, work colleagues or your partner, stopping is the best thing you can do for your health, cutting your risks of heart disease, COPD and cancer. Most people who quit feel much better and save hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a year.

“Some people do manage to quit first time – but for most people it takes a number of attempts. Don’t get disheartened if you didn’t quit first time, and don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. You can come back more determined and better prepared next time.

“We’d also encourage anyone who is switching completely from tobacco to vaping to be reassured that electronic cigarettes are helping many people to quit, and are almost certainly much less harmful that smoking tobacco.”

She added: “While it is fantastic that smoking in the North East has fallen from 29% in 2005 to 16.2% in 2019, we are still seeing too many people like Maggie and Tony diagnosed with a smoking related illness.

“We are fully supporting this package of new measures to make smoking and the diseases that tobacco causes history for the next generation.”

Dr Chris Tasker, CRUK GP for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “No Smoking Day is a great opportunity for people to stop smoking and I would recommend anyone considering making a quit attempt to consider doing it with someone else, whether it’s your husband, wife, friend, brother or sister. By doing it together makes it more likely you will stop.

“One of the best ways to stop smoking is to have help in the form of encouragement and support and nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation services do this best.

Stop smoking medicines can help you manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms and boost your chances of quitting. We know that the chances of stopping smoking are highest when you use these two things in combination.

“However, if you don’t succeed the first time you attempt to quit, don’t give up. Keep trying as no matter how many times you try you still have the same chance of stopping. Research shows that if you try at least once a year you have more chance eventually of stopping smoking.”

For tips, details of local stop smoking support and free tools to quit, visit Or ask at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.

Could you attend a Diabetes Prevention Week event?

Patients across the North East have been invited to take part in upcoming NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) events this April.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to have their potential risk of Type 2 Diabetes assessed at a number of stands popping up in the area to mark Diabetes Prevention Week from Monday April 1 until Friday April 5.

The assessment will be the Diabetes UK “ Know your Risk Score” which is a combination of questions measuring height, weight and stomach circumference.

Anyone that scores in the “at risk” range will receive a copy of their results, a letter to take to their GP requesting a blood test and a potential referral to the prevention programme.

Only the patient’s score and their GP Surgery will be recorded, no other personal information will be held.

The events are as follows:


Monday 01 April

Hartlepool, Middleton Grange Shopping Centre (9am – 4pm)

Stockton, Castlegate Shopping Centre (9am – 4pm)


Tuesday 02 April

Peterlee, Castle Dene Shopping Centre (9am– 4pm)

Middlesbrough, Dundas Shopping Centre (9am – 4pm)


Wednesday 03 April

North Tyneside, Wallsend Customer 1st Centre (9am – 4pm)

Sunderland, Bridges Shopping Centre (9am – 4pm)


Thursday 04 April

Cramlington, Manor Walks Shopping Centre (9am – 4pm)

Durham, Prince Bishop Shopping Centre (9am – 4pm)

Mid-Point Event, Middlesbrough FC  (9am – 4pm)


Friday 05 April

Metro Centre, Metro Centre, Gateshead (9am – 4pm)


If you have any requires regarding the events, please email

International Women’s Day 8 March 2019

Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day and there are festivities across the region celebrating so many fantastic women in the UK.  Find out more at

The ethos behind International Women’s Day is empowering women and girls to make positive life choices.  So, could you help more women learn the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?


Every year 7000 UK women face the devastating diagnosis of ovarian cancer.  Many may have had symptoms for months but dismissed them as digestive problems or signs of the menopause or getting older.  Most women are diagnosed when their cancer has spread, but if it had been caught earlier it could be easier to treat and have better results.


Ovacome have developed a straightforward message about the signs and symptoms using the B.E.A.T. campaign:

B is for bloating that is persistent and doesn’t come and go

E is for eating difficulty and feeling full more quickly

A is for abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days

T is for toilet changes in urination or bowel habits


Symptom awareness can mean better health outcomes for women, start sharing the key messages today. #IWD2019 #IWDNCL2019.

Lets get digital!

The NHS Long Term plan was published recently and there is lots to digest but one key aspect that was central to the plan is Digital Care.  In short this means that accessing primary care and GP services will be increasingly possible using digital means above what is currently possible now. Many patients are already ordering their repeat prescriptions online, booking some appointments online, but these services will be offered to more patients and include the offer of online or video consultation. This will not be suitable for all patients of course and the traditional means of accessing services will remain. All hospitals must become fully digital by 2024, which should help to improve communications between the hospital and primary care.


Regionally we have made headway with regards to digital care.  In 2017, the Childhood Illness App was launched, the app enables parents and carers to find NHS advice at their fingertips to help them look after their children’s health. The app gives easy to understand guidance on childhood illnesses, recognising when your child is unwell, and advice on when and where to seek further treatment. You can download the app now, available on Google Play and the App Store by searching for NHS child health or click here to view the Child Health Booklet.


Additionally the 111 online service was recently launched and the online service is now available across most of England. People can visit the website, enter their age, sex, postcode and main symptom and are then asked a series of questions about their health problem.