In-touch Commissioning news for practices
  Introduction from Dr Matthew Walmsley  

I'd like to express our appreciation from the CCG to patients for using services wisely during the cyber-attack and to all who worked so hard to protect our systems then get them up and running promptly.  

This issue of our bulletin includes information on extended opening hours for GP appointments later this year, Think Pharmacy First, GP online services, a carers and information day and our Local Engagement Board.

  Introduction from Dr Matthew Walmsley
GP extended opening hours

The CCG's clinical director, Dr Jon Tose, discusses the extended opening hours for GP appointments which will be available to all South Tyneside patients later this year. Click here or below to view the video.

Path to Excellence  
Path to Excellence

The Path to Excellence is a five-year transformation of healthcare provision across South Tyneside and Sunderland. 

The four NHS organisations involved are South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group.

Between us we plan, commission and deliver many of the major healthcare services across the area.

We’re working together to improve your local NHS services by identifying new ways to deliver safe, high-quality care that will make the best use of public money and meet the needs our population both now and in the future.


Why hospital services need to change in South Tyneside and Sunderland

The picture for the NHS in the north east echoes that of the rest of the country. The quality of care that people receive is generally very good but can vary across the region. Preventable illness is common and the growing demand for healthcare services is putting greater pressure on NHS resources, staff and finances than ever before.

In addition, we are facing a number of challenges:

  • the needs and expectations of the public are changing
  • new treatment options are emerging while life expectancy is increasing
  • in many cases, those extra years are spent in poor health, and requiring more complex care
  • the NHS is required to move towards a greater number of services being delivered seven days a week
  • the NHS is experiencing increasing workforce pressures, this is particularly true for senior medical staff but also includes nursing, therapy, and junior medical staff and this means that we need to think differently around how we deliver services

A document explaining some of the challenges the NHS is facing and why we need to consider changes has been published on our dedicated website.

What does this mean for patients?

This does not mean doing less for patients or reducing the quality of care. It means more focus on prevention, finding new ways of working to meet people’s needs and identifying more efficient ways to run our services.

Despite the challenges facing our NHS, we strongly believe the people of South Tyneside and Sunderland should be able to have better health than they currently experience.

Through reviewing our services we want to deliver long-term effective solutions to secure health outcomes in our area:

  • providing a wide range of safe, high-quality and accessible healthcare services
  • making best use of our senior medical staff at all times
  • providing value for money
  • further investment in services that are of most benefit to patients
  • sharing resources and services in our area where patient numbers are low.

We want to involve you and hear your views

We are asking local people to share their views on clinical services in South Tyneside and Sunderland to help us identify how they can be improved and how things might be done differently in the future.

We recently asked people to share their experiences of local stroke, maternity, women’s healthcare (gynaecology) and children’s healthcare (paediatrics) services. During this time we heard from over 2,000 people.

You can read more about what you have told us about current stroke, maternity, women’s healthcare (gynaecology) and children’s healthcare (paediatrics) services on our website.

Get involved

Over the coming months we will have lots of ways that you can get involved and there will be lots of opportunities for you to give your views.

The easiest way to ensure you don’t miss out on future opportunities is to sign up to My NHS. By signing up to MY NHS you will:

  • receive regular updates about the work of the local NHS and receive invitations to events
  • have opportunities to give your views about areas of healthcare that interest you
  • be able to participate as much or as little as you like.

You can register for My NHS via our website below or telephone us.

We have a dedicated website:

The website will host links to surveys and registration for events once these become available as well as all the documents published as part of the programme.

Telephone: 0191 217 2670



Facebook: Search: nhsexcellence

Twitter: @NHSexcellence

short animation has been created to describe STP to NHS staff, NHS organisations and the wider public and patients. It clearly and simply explains what these local proposals for health and social care aim to do.  

Local Engagement Board (LEB)  
Local Engagement Board (LEB)

The first LEB of the year was held on Thursday 9 March. Please click here to see the report. 

The June LEB will be part of the carers’ health and information day, more info in the article below, on Wednesday 14 June 2.30-3.30pm at Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre and Library.

Carers' health and information day  
Carers' health and information day

Support, activities and services for carers will be highlighted at Cleadon Park Library on 14 June.

Free refreshments and light lunch will be available as well as free NHS health checks for adults aged 40-74. Talks will take place from social care and health professionals.

The event will take place from 11am to 4pm on Wednesday 14 June at Cleadon Park Library and Primary Care Health Centre, Prince Edward Road, South Shields, NE34 8PS.

Please book for a health check prior to event on 0191 424 7773.

Think Pharmacy First

NHS leaders have called on patients to help reduce the pressure on GPs in South Tyneside by visiting pharmacists, for free professional advice on a range of minor health problems under the Think Pharmacy First scheme. 

Think Pharmacy First is aimed at encouraging people to get advice and medicines to treat common or less serious illnesses, such as coughs, colds, upset stomachs and skin problems, simply by going to a community pharmacy.

The top five reasons for consultations have been for fever, headlice, coughs, threadworm and teething.


What do I have to do? 

All pharmacies in South Tyneside offer the scheme and you will be seen as soon as possible without having to make an appointment. Staff will speak to you about your health condition and discuss with you what treatment you might need. 

Most pharmacies now have a consultation area if you feel you need to discuss things in private. You will be asked questions about your symptoms, including which medicines you are taking and information about your illness. 

It would be helpful if you took a list of any medicines you are using. This is to make sure that the treatment you are given is right for you. All details given to the pharmacist are confidential. 

If you need it, the pharmacist will be able to provide the right medicine for you, as well as telling you the best way to take the medicine and give you any extra advice you need to help with your illness. For example, if your child has a fever the pharmacist will be able to give you advice as well as give you paracetamol if it is needed. 

Free treatment

If you don’t normally pay for your medicines, then you don’t need to pay with Think Pharmacy First – you can get them free and over the counter from your local pharmacist without the need to see your GP. Make sure you ask for a ‘minor illness consultation’.

'Talk to us' session planned this month

The CCG will hold its next 'Talk to us' sessions at Mortimer Community College later this month, aimed at helping young people to understand general practice.

The CCG has agreed to fund this work so that it can be rolled out in every school in South Tyneside, which gives us the opportunity to engage with all our young people.

The sessions include information to give pupils confidence regarding their right to confidentiality, while also explaining when GPs may have to share information.

Dr Sharmila Parks said: "The lesson includes a section on 'body maps', where the students think about conditions that may present in general practice. This gives us an opportunity to talk to students about both physical and mental health, as well as pass on some important healthcare messages.

GP online services

GP online services are available at each practice in South Tyneside to help people better manage their health. 

These services enable patients to book GP appointments and request repeat prescriptions via their computer, smartphone or tablet at a time that suits them, anywhere, anytime – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Patients who require repeat prescriptions can request these from the comfort of their own home, rather than venturing out in the cold or wet weather to drop their request off at the practice. 

Patients will also be able to review which medication they should be taking, the dosage and when it should be taken.

If patients want to register for GP online services they need to fill out a form at the practice and show two forms of ID, one of which should have a photo (such as a UK passport or driving licence) and the other should have their address (such as a council tax bill). 

If you don’t have photo ID or anything with your address on it, it doesn’t mean you will not be able to use online services, your practice staff may be able to help. 

To register for GP online services, drop in and ask at your practice, or to find out more visit the NHS Choices website at

Be Clear on Cancer campaign

The next Be Clear On Cancer campaign, ‘Respiratory Symptoms’, will run until the end of August. 

The campaign previously ran in July 2016. It focuses on the respiratory symptoms of breathlessness during everyday activities and a persistent cough, to encourage people with these symptoms to see their doctor. The campaign looks at the symptoms as possible indicators of lung cancer, along with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

More information on the campaign is available here.

We are always keen to include local case studies, so if any partners have contacts or patients they think may be appropriate, please do get in touch and email

Resources for those affected by the terrorist attack in Manchester

Mental health clinicians have created an NHS Choices page which has useful resources for teachers, parents, employers carers and others feeling affected by the events in Manchester:

The page was developed with colleagues in Manchester but also by the national mental health team including the national clinical director for mental health and the associated clinical director for CAHMS.

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