In-touch Commissioning news for practices

In our latest bulletin you will find updates on the integrated community teams, world mental health day, urgent care guidance, Think Pharmacy First, developments within primary care, flu vaccination, Stoptober and our Local Engagement Board.

Integrated community team up for national award

A new approach to delivering health and social care in South Tyneside has been shortlisted for a national award.

Integrated community teams have been set up as a result of partnership working between NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust as well as voluntary organisations. The new way of working has made it through to the finals of the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards in the Improved Partnerships between Health and Local Government category. 

More than 1,600 entries were received from 600 organisations but judges agreed that the innovative way South Tyneside delivers health and social care should make it to the finals.


Care is now being delivered via teams including district nurses and community matrons from South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside Council’s social workers and occupational therapists. A social navigator also works with each of the teams to help people access wider support available in the community. 

The new approach, which has been designed and created by frontline teams, has empowered staff to provide integrated care based on an individual’s needs. 

Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and Chair of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is great news and shows how much progress we have made towards a seamless approach.  The aim is to provide care centred on patients and their needs, rather than being provided separately by different organisations. A completely integrated approach can improve patient care as well as using our resources more efficiently, and feedback from patients so far has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Councillor Mary Butler, Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Support Services, said: 

“By identifying and learning from best practice, including successful initiatives from across Europe, we are empowering staff to devise new ways of integrated, patient-centred care. 

“This approach is revolutionary but is having a profound impact in our communities. By working in a more co-ordinated way, patients are now receiving better care which is more appropriate for their needs with more patients than ever staying in their own home.”

The integrated teams model is operation in the Jarrow and Hebburn areas of South Tyneside and roll out plans are being finalised so that it can be rolled out across the rest of the borough by the end of 2015/16.  Any practices with queries should contact Mark Girvan NECS, Manager- Service Planning & Reform, or Christine Briggs, Director of Operations on

The awards ceremony will be held in London on Wednesday, 18 November.

A Better U now rolling out across borough  
A Better U now rolling out across borough

a better u is South Tyneside’s programme for supporting residents and patients to self-care.  Through this programme we’re aiming to promote a culture of health and wellbeing that gives more control to local people over their own health.  This means changing conversations from “how can I help you?” to “how can you help yourself?”, and from “what’s the matter with you?” to “what matters to you?”

We know that people who are active and motivated around their health issues have a better chance of staying healthier for longer.  Feedback from residents showed that 93% felt that taking care of their health is their responsibility and 91% of respondents said that taking an active role in their health and social care is the most important thing that affects their health.

Workshops are available for health and care professionals to support different conversations with residents and patients, to give people a greater active role in their health and wellbeing.  Self-care courses are also available to residents and we are working with our local community to strengthen and raise awareness of support and activities available to people in their local area.  The a better u programme also includes developing new ways of working which support people with long-term conditions to have a greater role in managing their condition.

For more information on a better u please contact Emma Hamblin on /0191 424 6409.

World mental health day  
World mental health day

Several members of the CCG took part in a recent event held at the Central Library as part of World Mental Health Day.

The event, organised by Happiness and Wellbeing South Tyneside, saw around 80 people attending and having their questions answered by a team of experts including Dr David Hambleton, Chief Officer NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Dr James Gordon, Mental Health Lead (CCG).


Dr Gordon said: “This was a valuable opportunity for us to listen to the people who use our services and get a better understanding of what is working well, and where we need to make improvements.

“We had a lot of useful comments and questions about areas like child and adolescent mental health, and the way mental health services work alongside the police, which showed just how important these services are to people.

“We have made some significant improvements to services over the past couple of years, including a new 24/7 phone service making it easier to contact mental health services.

“Another important step has been street triage, which means a mental health nurse travels to incidents with the police to offer on the spot advice and ensure that people are directed to mental health services if that is what they need.

“The number of times people have been detained in these circumstances has dropped by 90% over the past year as a result.”

He added: “Also getting underway is the Lifecycle service, which involves mental health specialists working in schools and other settings to support children and young people.

“We have made a lot of progress but people’s feedback plays a big part in guiding our decisions about services in the future.”

Anyone who urgently needs specialist advice can contact the Initial Response Team on 0303 123 1145, 24 hours a day.

Use the right NHS service for your needs

With the walk-in centre at Jarrow relocating to form part of a new urgent care hub at South Tyneside District Hospital (1 October), we would like to help patients access the right service for their needs.

Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and Chair of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “When one of your family is unwell, the only thing on your mind is how to get the care they need, as quickly as possible, but it’s worth stopping to think for a moment, to make sure you choose the right service.”

“Your local NHS has a range of services to meet all your family’s healthcare needs – and you can get the right treatment first time, if you choose the right service. 

“While we do understand people’s concerns about these changes, it’s important to remember that walk-in centres are not the only option.

“Your GP should be the first port of call for most healthcare needs, and local practices have taken a number of steps to make it easier to get an appointment.

“Local pharmacists are also highly trained and can give professional advice on a wide range of minor ailments from aches and pains and allergies to colds, head lice and skin problems. 

“We have launched Think Pharmacy First (more info below), which provides free consultations for everyone – and if you don’t pay for your prescriptions, you may be able to get free over the counter medicines through this scheme.  

“If you urgently need medical help and your practice is closed, you can call NHS 111, who can signpost you to the right service. For emergencies, major accidents or life-threatening situations, 999 is the number to call.

“The new urgent care hub is located alongside A&E, which means that patients who do not need emergency treatment can still see a medical professional without adding to the pressure on A&E staff.” 

The change follows a detailed consultation in which thousands of people provided comments. This feedback helped the CCG to identify concerns and take steps like improving access to GP appointments and launching Think Pharmacy First to raise awareness of the expert advice available from pharmacists.

To find out more about local NHS services, visit

Think Pharmacy First

A campaign to encourage local people to take advantage of free, expert health advice from their local pharmacy and help ease pressure on hospital services this winter has been launched in South Tyneside.

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.

Think Pharmacy First has been developed by the CCG, working closely with Gateshead and South Tyneside Local Pharmaceutical Committee.


Dr Matthew Walmsley, Chair of NHS South Tyneside CCG, said: “With NHS services across the country under pressure from increasing demand, it’s more important than ever to choose the right service for your needs. Most patients use the NHS sensibly but a significant minority still go to A&E for problems that could be better dealt with by a pharmacist or a GP.”

Local pharmacists can provide consultations on many common health problems. If you don’t pay for prescriptions, you may be able to get free over the counter medicines with Think Pharmacy First. For those who do pay for prescriptions, it is likely that buying medicines from a pharmacy will be less expensive than the prescription charge.

There are 39 pharmacies in South Tyneside, with 17 open on Saturdays and three offering evening opening and Sunday daytime opening (visit for details). Consultations with pharmacists are completely confidential and most pharmacies can offer a private area to talk about symptoms. If your condition is more serious, the pharmacist will be able to refer you to the right NHS service for your needs. Anyone worried about a child can discuss the problem with the pharmacist even if the child is not present.

To find your nearest pharmacy, or for more information about Think Pharmacy First,

Developments within primary care

Drs Vicki Rouse and Ruth Jenkinson from Trinity Medical Centre are leading the development of a strategy for general practice in South Tyneside.

They have been working with the CCG and NHS Improving Quality (NHSiQ) to facilitate a series of meetings and workshops to understand local GPs' views on how services could change to improve patient experience and outcomes, whilst acknowledging the increasing financial and workload pressures on practices.

Most recently the CCG co-hosted an event at the Centre for Life, there were excellent presentations from Dr James Kingsland (president of the National Association of Primary Care) and Vince Barry (CEO Pegasus Health, New Zealand) on how models of primary care could look in the future.

Local Engagement Board

Thanks to all those who attended our Local Engagement Board on 24 September.  Papers from the items discussed can be found here, including the Director of Public Health's report, Change4Life and an update on Primary Care.

Our next meeting is 10 December at Jarrow Community Association, Jarrow. NE32 3QN.

Please click the image below for more photos from September's meeting.

The week of perfect discharges

South Tyneside Foundation Trust is committed to continuous improvement of patient services with quality and safety placed at the heart of all we do.  From 16th – 23rd Sept 2015 we delivered a week long ‘live’ improvement project known as “the week of perfect discharges”.

Derived from the national Breaking the Cycle initiative it worked hand in hand with the “safer patient flow bundle” to rapidly improve patient flow to produce a step-change in performance, safety and patient experience.

The aim of the week was to focus upon real time hospital discharges, from the point when the patient was medically stable to the point that they left the hospital - safe and timely discharge with a good patient experience.

This included reviewing the processes to support discharge decision making and those adopted when a delay is encountered. Using a range of improvement and productivity tools we were able to build a picture of our discharges processes and patient journeys.

As part of the pre-work, information was generated by undertaking daily audits in wards, observing and recording key discharge activity to highlight barriers and blockages in patient flow.  Work was undertaken to help understand the delays and blockages and actions were agreed and implemented in the days and weeks leading up to the perfect week to streamline the process.

For more information about this initiative or a copy of the detailed report please contact:Irene Stables, Divisional Director - Acute & Urgent Care on 0191 203 2964 email:


Key outcomes

• The baseline data shows that our pattern of discharges replicates a similar pattern across the year with a higher level of activity at the front end of the week decreasing at the weekend. During the week of perfect discharges we saw a shift in the pattern of discharges which resulted in levelling across the week.

• We achieved a 95% increase of Saturday discharges and 116% increase on Sunday when compared to the same period 2014

• This had a positive impact on the number of beds available on EAU and we experienced an increase in the flow through EAU with increased bed availability in EAU in the morning and the evening, including 17 empty beds on Sunday at 8pm

• Increased discharge activity was most apparent in Surgical, EAU and Care of the Elderly

• Data collected as part of an audit of the safer flow care bundle undertaken in July 2015 showed that overall 66.5% of patients had a consultant review before midday (the date excluded surgical wards). Daily audits during the week of perfect discharges showed a gradual increase to the increase to 85%. 21% of patients were reviewed on Saturday and 22% on Sunday which supported timely discharge of patients over the weekend period

Flu vaccinations

The CCG urges all vulnerable groups to protect themselves from flu this winter.

The symptoms are usually quite mild but can be very serious, which is why some age groups who are more vulnerable to the illness are eligible for vaccination.

Apart from age-related vaccination groups some people who suffer with chronic ill health are also eligible, so please contact your GP to find out more.

If you have a long-term health condition, a learning disability or are pregnant, have children aged two to four, or you are aged 65 or over, ask your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist about the free flu vaccine.

Severe winter flu and its complications can make people really ill and can kill. People are eleven times more likely to die from flu if they are in a clinical at risk group.

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a vaccination last winter you need another one this year to stay safe from flu.

Simply contact your GP to arrange an appointment.  Vaccinations are also available from your local pharmacy if you are over 65, pregnant or have one of the serious medical conditions outlined below:

  • People aged 65 years or over
  • All pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season).
  • All healthy two and three year olds
  • People living in long stay residential care homes
  • People who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
  • People with a serious medical condition such as:
  1. Long term severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
  2. Long-term heart disease, such as heart failure
  3. Long term kidney disease and liver disease
  4. Long term neurological disease, such as Parkinson's disease or motor neurone disease
  5. Diabetes 
  6. A weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)

North East sees large drop in smoking  
North East sees large drop in smoking

Recent official figures show the North East has had the biggest drop in smokers nationwide –with fewer people smoking than ever before.

The proportion of North East smokers fell from 22.3% of people smoking in 2013 down to 19.9% in 2014. The figures are from the Integrated Household Survey published by the Office for National Statistics.

There are now 165,000 fewer smokers in the North East than there were in 2005, when 29% of people smoked. The figures have also resulted in the North East approach being praised by Public Health England.


Lisa Surtees, Acting Director of Fresh Smoke Free North East, which was set up in 2005 to tackle the worst rates of smoking in the country, said: “We are thrilled to see such a significant fall in smoking. It is the first time our smoking rates have ever dropped under 20% and shows the North East has had the biggest fall of any English region since 2005.

"We have seen a massive culture shift in the last decade with regards to smoking, with smokefree laws coming into force and massive public opinion in favour of reducing smoking and protecting children from tobacco.

“But around 417,000 people still smoke in our region and one in two will die from a smoking related disease unless they quit.”

Ambitious plans to cut smoking rates to 5% across the North East by 2025 were backed by health and local government leaders and young people in the North East earlier in the year. It was estimated getting down to 5% would save thousands of lives and an estimated £100 million a year, freeing up around £50 million for the NHS, significantly easing the strain on hospitals and GP surgeries, as well as significantly cutting the cost of smoking related sickness on local businesses. 

Smokers across the country are being urged to sign up to Stoptober, the country’s 28-day mass quit attempt from Public Health England.

Smoking is still our biggest preventable killer: 80,000 people die a year in England because of smoking, and so stopping smoking is the single best thing a person can do for their health.

Did you know research shows smokers are 67% more likely to quit if their partner also stops smoking and 36% more likely to quit if a friend stops.

This year the campaign is encouraging people to sign up with their friends, family and colleagues, as this type of ‘social quitting’ can dramatically improve the chances of successfully stopping.

Tell us your patients stories

The most complete story of a person’s treatment comes from the patient and their relatives or carers.

Operations and Engagement Manager, Helen Ruffell, said:  “We need to hear first-hand experiences of patients’ treatment in South Tyneside to help us learn from the good work that is happening and help us identify where the services are not working so well.”

“By sharing their stories of involvement with local health services people can help us develop patient-centred care for residents across South Tyneside.”

If you have a story you would like to share please contact Helen on 0191 283 1903 or email

  Monkton Hall, Monkton Lane, Jarrow NE32 5NN
Telephone: 0191 283 1903 email: Visit:

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