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

In the below video, Dr Matthew Walmsley, Chair of the CCG, introduces some of the items discussed in this issue.

This issue includes information on the sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), great North Care record, GP online services, Think Pharmacy First, new research on smoking and the relaunch of campaigns from Fresh ahead of No Smoking Day.  We have also included details on the relaunch of the popular Act FAST campaign.

We are also delighted to share that we have received the gold award from Better Health at Work.

Sustainability and transformation plan (STP)

The King’s Fund has published a report analysing the 44 sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) submitted to NHS England in October. The report summarises the main themes in the STPs and discusses the opportunities and challenges in implementing the proposals they outline.

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. 

We recently completed an eight week engagement process on STP.  To keep up to date on how you can have you say please join MY NHS.  Frequently asked questions can be viewed here.


NHS England’s Five Year Forward View (5YFV) national plan sets out a vision for a better NHS. The plan describes an approach to how the vision of the 5YFV could be delivered by 2021.

It sets out proposals to:


  • Improve health inequalities
  • Ensure safe and sustainable local health and care services
  • Fill a funding gap that could be as large as £641m by 2021.


Whilst Health is improving in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (NTW) and North Durham, the gap in health and quality is continuing to increase.

The 5YFV identifies three main gaps – health and wellbeing, care and quality, and funding – and the STP proposes to address those gaps locally by focusing on:

  • Scaling up work on ill-health prevention and improving well-being
  • Improving the quality and experience of care by increasing collaboration between organisations that provide out of hospital care and making the best use of acute or hospital based services
  • Closing the gap in local finances

There is a need for the CCG to focus on various high risk areas such as smoking, obesity and alcohol, making best use of the hospital services and developing the out of hospital model.

The CCG is working closely with colleagues across the Sunderland area looking at how to fully embed the current integrated community team’s model and further develop it. This is with a view to reducing over reliance on statutory services via a variety of schemes including the continued implementation of the 'a Better U' self-care programme which is one of the CCG's key local work pieces, again working closely with colleagues in Sunderland.

Click here for further information. 

CCG to take full delegated responsibility for commissioning primary medical services  
CCG to take full delegated responsibility for commissioning primary medical services

The CCG will take full delegated responsibility for commissioning primary medical services (level 3), from 1 April.

Although we have opted for delegated commissioning, accountability for delivering the primary care commissioning function remains with NHS England. Therefore NHS England will require assurance that its statutory duties are being discharged effectively. Once delegated arrangements have been established, their overall effectiveness will be monitored as part of the CCG assurance process. 

This way of commissioning provides an opportunity to further develop an integrated health and social care system in South Tyneside by enabling greater local influence over a wider range of services for the benefit of the people of the borough. There is a busy work plan underway to deliver the challenges we have set ourselves. We are determined to continue with this as well as the additional delegated responsibilities that commissioning will bring.


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

Gold for CCG in Better Health at Work awards
After previously receiving the bronze and silver in the Better Health at Work awards, the CCG is delighted to have won the gold award in December.
Staff at the CCG are now working towards the Continuing Excellence Award in 2017. As part of this, one of our health advocates is mentoring Talbot Medical Centre who are taking part in the award at Bronze level.
Criteria for the gold award includes:
  • Developing a three year health and wellbeing strategy and one year action plan
  • A workforce health needs assessment
  • Participation in a minimum of five local, regional or national health campaigns/events
  • Involving the wider community and friends and families in the award and encouraging other business to participate in the Better Health at Work Award
  • Encouraging employees to have regular health checks

Campaigns and events through the year included:

  • A regular walking club for staff, friends and family
  • Parkrun
  • Health checks, including smoking cessation advice
  • Gibside marathon
  • Alzheimer’s Memory Walk
  • Mental health first aid course
  • Visual impairment awareness training
  • Dementia Friends training
  • Annual flu vaccination
New digital system set to improve healthcare in South Tyneside

A new digital system for accessing patient records is set to be rolled out across the North East region over the coming months, helping medical professionals to provide better, safer emergency care for local people.

The Great North Care Record, which is expected to be operating across the region by April 2017, provides secure, real-time access to a summary of GP-held records for emergency doctors, nurses and paramedics, so that they can make potentially life-saving decisions with easy access to up-to-date medical records.

Dr Matthew Walmsley, clinical chair at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is a big step to improving emergency care, with clear safeguards in place to ensure patients’ information is secure and safe.

“Health professionals will have timely access to the most up to date and accurate information, meaning they can offer better advice and safer, more effective care. Less time will be wasted obtaining medical records, and patients will spend less time repeating answers to the same questions from different health professionals.


The Great North Care Record – which is already used in parts of the region – is being rolled out across the North East with support from the North East Urgent and Emergency Care Network and its partners.

The electronic system will include the sort of details that are already shared using slower methods of communication, like phone calls and letters. The patient will be asked by the healthcare professional caring for them for consent to access their record.

This could include details of medical conditions, medication, operations and treatment, tests that have been requested or carried out, and contact details for next of kin or other carers, but will not contain information about sensitive discussions the patient has had with their GP. If a patient chooses to opt out, the information will not be available to health professionals.

Everyone in the region will be included in the initiative if they do not choose to opt out. Anyone who is happy to be included will not need to take any action.

Any patient who would like to discuss any concerns or find out more can do so by picking up a leaflet at their GP Practice or speaking with one of the practice team.

The project is supported by CCGs, NHS Trusts, out-of-hours GP services, North East Ambulance Service and GP practices across the North East, with regional support from the North East Urgent and Emergency Care Network and Connected Health Cities.

Patients urged to 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. Recent figures show that South Tyneside patients seeking advice from pharmacists have helped to free up around 35 GP appointments per practice every month for people in more urgent need.

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' sessions to be rolled out to schools

The CCG has held 'Talk to Us' sessions at Mortimer Community College, aimed at helping young people to understand general practice.  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.

"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."


Act FAST campaign

Public Health England has relaunched the national 'Act FAST' stroke campaign, working closely with the Stroke Association.

The campaign (video below) aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke and to encourage people who recognise any single one of the symptoms of stroke, in themselves or others, to call 999 immediately.

Warning to part-time and light smokers about health risks

With No Smoking Day approaching on 8 March, smokers who’ve cut down are being warned they are still facing significant risks of cancer and heart disease unless they quit or switch.

Fresh is re-launching the Don’t be the 1 campaign, warning that half of all long term smokers will die from smoking. That means of the North East’s 392,000 smokers, 196,000 people are at risk unless they quit. Smoking cuts around 10 years off a person’s life on average.  

But with many smokers cutting down to ten or fewer cigarettes a day, or to hand rolling tobacco, Fresh is warning people not to ignore the substantial risks from smoking only a few cigarettes a day.


As well as record numbers of people quitting in the North East, a survey by Fresh found many smokers have cut down – with one in five smokers consuming five or fewer cigarettes a day compared to 1 in 10 smokers in 2009. However, evidence shows:

  • Smoking just a few cigarettes raises your risks of heart disease very quickly. The risk of heart disease in men and women aged 35 to 39 years who smoke 1 to 4 cigarettes per day is nearly 3 times that of a non-smoker
  • Passive smoking is also a cause of heart disease in non-smokers
  • Women aged between 35 and 49 years who smoke 1 to 4 cigarettes per day have 5 times the risk of developing lung cancer and men have 3 times the risks of non-smokers
  • Research looking at deaths from respiratory disease, such as emphysema, has found people who smoke between one and 10 cigarettes a day had over six times the risk of dying from respiratory diseases than those who have never smoked
  • People who smoke 1-4 cigarettes a day have more than double the risk of stomach cancer
  • Light smoking also has an impact on frailty in older people, increasing their risk of fractures

Smokers can find details of stop smoking services, and free support like the Quit Kit and Smokefree App on the website.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “In the North East we have seen the biggest fall in smoking in England over the last decade, and people who are still smoking are smoking less than they were.

“Cost and awareness of the health risks are both factors. If you only smoke a few cigarettes a day, it must be tempting to hope the risks don’t apply. However, the evidence is clear that even a few cigarettes a day can cause cancer and heart disease, and change lives forever.

“We are urging people to think about quitting for their family. Cutting down can help people to quit, but taking the next step is vital. In the run up to No Smoking Day we are urging people to ditch tobacco completely or if they aren’t ready to quit nicotine, to switch to a safer way of getting it, like an electronic cigarette.”

A recent study funded by Cancer Research UK found that people who switched from smoking tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as gum or patches for at least six months had much lower levels of toxins and cancer causing chemicals than those who continued to smoke. But a complete switch was needed to get the health benefits.

Since 2005, smoking has fallen from 29% of adults in 2005, to 18.7% in 2015 – the equivalent of around 189,000 fewer adult smokers. The North East also has the lowest youth smoking rates on record and has seen a corresponding fall in deaths.

The award-winning Don’t be the 1 campaign first launched in 2014 after a survey of North East smokers found 9 out of 10 smokers underestimate the 1 in 2 risk.

There is lots of local support to give you a much better chance of quitting smoking and help manage your cravings. Contact your local stop smoking service to get your quit attempt underway, or talk to your GP or pharmacist. All stop smoking services in the North East are also welcoming of people using their own electronic cigarettes to quit.

Support is available in South Tyneside by calling South Tyneside Change 4 Life on 0191 424 7300.

Scheme's success at stopping mums-to-be smoking

Research from Newcastle University suggests pregnant women are almost twice as likely to quit smoking if they are supported from their first midwife appointment – and then are more likely to have heavier, healthier babies.

To read more on the research please click here.

Melanie Snowdon, 40, from South Shields, welcomed her child, Faith, to the world in March last year. When she found out she was expecting she sought support from her local stop smoking service to quit tobacco for the good of her unborn child. She’s continued to be smoke free following the birth and is confident that she’ll remain that way in the future.


She said: “I was about 17 when I started smoking. In those days everybody smoked, we knew it was bad but you don’t think about that when you’re a teenager. On average I smoked about 20 - 30 a day and it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my fifth child that I stopped.

“I smoked through my first four pregnancies and there were no issues, I had four healthy babies. There was a big gap in between my first four and my youngest.

“Not long after I married my husband, we fell pregnant again. I decided that I needed to quit smoking as my husband doesn’t smoke and doesn’t like it.

“The thing that really hit home for me was when the midwife at hospital showed me how much carbon monoxide was in my breath and explained how smoking starves the baby of oxygen.

“I was referred to my local stop smoking service and, at first, I was very sceptical. I used patches, sprays and an ecig for a little bit too and I managed to come off the cigarettes completely after seven weeks.

“I couldn’t quite believe the difference in weight, my daughter was 9lbs 12oz whereas all my other children were much lighter. I never believed that smokers had smaller babies.

“I wasn’t sure how I would do after my daughter was born, but I’m still off the cigarettes and I can’t see myself going back. I still carry a spray in my bag just in case but the thought and the smell of smoking really puts me off.

“My husband has said he is really proud of me because he thought once the baby was born I would have started again.

“I would encourage other mums to give it a try - it doesn’t cost anything. I smoked for so many years and would never have thought I would be able to stop but I did.”

New abortion services

Since December, women in South Tyneside are able to self-refer into BPAS at Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre or South Tyneside District Hospital for abortion services.

Options include:

  • Calling direct on 0345 730 4030
  • A GP or other health professional can make the booking

Calls are answered 24/7 and women can access both services via this booking line.

For women under the age of 25, support with pregnancy choices is also available from South Tyneside Pregnancy Options Service 0191 2832525.


BPAS provides:

  • Pregnancy options counselling
  • Pre-treatment assessment for abortion
  • Same day assessment and abortion treatment
  • Early medical abortion (patients go home to self manage up to 10 weeks gestation)
  • Post abortion counselling
  • Aftercare helpline (24hrs)

Services at South Tyneside District Hospital include:

  • Pregnancy options counselling
  • Pre-treatment assessment for abortion
  • Surgical abortion up to 15 weeks gestation
  • HIV screening
  • Medical or surgical abortion for women with medical conditions not suitable for treatment at BPAS


Tell us your patient stories  
Tell us your patient stories

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

The CCG's operations 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

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

The first LEB of the year will be held on Thursday 9 March, 1.30pm-3pm, at Living Waters in Laygate. Please click here to view the agenda.

Tea and coffee will be available prior to the meeting.  

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

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