Survey: Experiences of patients seeking same-day GP appointments [Newcastle-Gateshead]

Newcastle-Gateshead NHS CCG is currently undertaking a short survey to better understand the experiences of patients who are seeking to make a same-day appointment with their local GP.

They also want to know whether there is anything that GP Practices could do, to improve the experience.
Here is the link where patients can provide feedback:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/P8HB7DL

The deadline for completing the survey is 22nd October 2021.

TEWV "Our Big Conversation" open for feedback

This week (October 4th 2021) Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) have reopening "Our Big Conversation" to seek feedback about their services, and their new strategic framework, "Our Journey to Change".   It will be open for just 2 weeks.

The conversation has 3 questions for staff, and 3 questions for service users and carers. The focus of the conversation will be:

  •     What are the things that we do that are not helpful in your care and that you think we could stop?
  •     What’s working well and what could be improved in our buildings, the technology we use and the way we communicate with you?
  •     There is also a specific question just for staff about our people management policies and procedures because we want to make sure they feel supportive and reflect our new values.

To find out more, visit https://tewvbigconversation.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How to get involved in "Our Big Conversation"

The conversation opened on Monday 4 October. You need to register with the online platform to submit feedback.

Other ways to get involved

TEW have set up a couple of virtual sessions on Microsoft Teams where you can meet people from the trust, talk about Our Big Conversation and let them know what you think.

These will be held on:

    Tuesday 12 October 1pm to 2.30pm
    Thursday 21 October 10am to 11.30am

Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register a place and you will be sent a link to the session.

You can find more information about TEWV's strategy framework "Our Journey to Change" here: https://www.tewv.nhs.uk/about-us/our-journey-to-change/

The conversation will be open 24/7 until Friday 22nd October. 

CICADA Study: Chronic Conditions and Disabilities and Migrants / Ethnic minoritisation

We have been asked to promote the CICADA (Coronavirus Intersectionalities: Chronic Conditions and Disabilities and Migrants / Ethnic minoritisation) study working with people who are from minority ethnic groups and have a long-term disability/illness - mental as well as physical, diagnosed or undiagnosed. They are looking for people who are specifically based in North-East England, and who come from a minority ethnic group and have mental health difficulties, to take part in an interview.

Participants are given a £20 shopping voucher as a thank you.

You can find out more about this study on their website: https://cicada-study.org.uk

To sign up or for more info, message their facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/CICADA-104486812001154
Or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cicada interview poster

 

No To Hassockfield—local Campaign Opposing Immigration Detention Centre at Medolmsley Continues

Plans to re-open the site of the notorious Medomsley Detention Centre as an Immigration Detention Centre for women, have continued. However, whilst the Ministry of Justice had said it would open in the summer, in discussion with the No To Hassockfield campaign they have confirmed it is more likely to have its first women detainees around the end of October.

The campaign against its opening has grown in size. together with Abolish Detention, Durham Peoples Assembly and Women for Refugee Women, N2H are holding demonstrations the 3rd Saturday of each month 11-2pm at the site. Local ITV news gave coverage to August’s demo.

There is a prayer vigil held every 1st Sunday of the month at 3pm, organised by the justice and peace movement, and every Saturday, Dorothy Sotelo of No to Hassockfield is co-ordinating a group of 3-4 demonstrators to be present for an hour to make some noise at the site. This will become increasingly important when detainees are present at the site.

Richard Holden, the area’s Conservative MP has claimed the centre will provide good quality jobs, which he says are much needed for local residents.

Peter Hill, trade unionist said “Richard Holden MP claims the centre will bring many 'good jobs' to the area. But these jobs will be with outsourcing firm Mitie, notorious for its bad employment practices across a range of sectors, as well as its mistreatment of detainees. Just this year, unions Unite, Unison and GMB have condemned Mitie for discriminatory policies against workers (at Heathrow airport), Covid safety failures, and breaking promises to pay the living wage and unsocial hours payments (for NHS workers during the Covid pandemic). He doesn't mention the alternative use for the Hassockfield site: a housing and leisure development which had previously been planned. That would bring local jobs too - if the centre's development was cancelled.”

The campaign against the centre opening is extremely concerned about the effect of indefinite detention on detainees’ mental health. While detention of any kind should not be used for people who are fleeing war and persecution, it should be noted that the UK is the only member of the 47 Member State Council of Europe to use the inhumane practice of indefinite detention.

Helen Groom, retired Gateshead GP and No To Hassockfield Campaigner said;

“As a GP in Gateshead I looked after two ex-detainees from Medomsley whose lives were blighted by severe PTSD and memories of the abuse they suffered there. I’m horrified to think that we could now be locking up women, many of whom have already been deeply traumatised, when what they are seeking is sanctuary. I want to see Hassockfield closed before it opens, so that no more suffering takes place on this site.”

The Home Office say that timescales for opening the centre (which they have rechristened Derwentside IRC as a marketing change) have slipped a bit . They have a number of things that they must do before opening which include building medical facilities (which Durham County Council gave planning permission for in late August), providing multi faith chaplaincy, and setting up an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) recruitment for which took place during September.

Julie Ward, Former MEP Mental Health Ambassador, women's rights campaigner and member of the No To Hassockfield Campaign, said,
"Women are hugely impacted by conflict and various global crises, including climate breakdown, which leads to unsustainable lives, extreme poverty, hunger, increased violence and risk of trafficking. We also see how authoritarian regimes seek to limit women's freedoms and punish them for aspiring to be educated, to run businesses, to stand for elected office, to wear what they wish.

Women asylum seekers have often experienced terrible violence at every stage of their journeys. Detention is a form of institutional state violence, which can have a profound psychological impact for years to come. Instead of locking up vulnerable women with the intention of deporting them back to face the likelihood of more violence, we should be treating them with compassion and dignity. The UK is out of step with many of its neighbours in the way it treats those seeking asylum.

It would be very easy for those of us in the UK to give up, to turn our backs and do nothing. But fundamentally we are a welcoming nation and in joining the campaign to Stop Hassockfield we can feel energised and empowered through collective action. The very act of protest is an act of resistance which can help to assuage our own feelings of helplessness. Standing in solidarity with people seeking sanctuary and against the government's inhumane system is a joyful act of resistance. At our regular monthly peaceful protests outside the site we sing, enjoy poems, watch theatre performances and listen to inspiring speeches and moving testimonies. We have made new friends and we have discovered new things about ourselves. We feel we CAN do something and that alone is good for our mental health. We have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others."

MHNE have spoken out against the government’s plans for the site and continue to support the No 2 Hassockfield campaign, committing to do everything we can to monitor the mental health and wellbeing of anyone held at this proposed facility.

If people want to know more about the campaign or any of the demonstrations, please email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or visit the campaign website: https://notohassockfield.org.uk/ or on Facebook - @No2Hassockfield   /  Twitter @No2Hassockfield

Free Samaritans Keyrings available to promote helpline

Our contact at the Durham branch of the Samaritans at Sutton Street has asked for help in handing batches of FREE key rings to organisations and businesses in our region who can come into contact with people suffering distress or feelings of suicide.

For a number of key rings for your organisation to distribute or for more information please contact Keith Mollon by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or text or call him on 07846969851

https://www.samaritans.org/branches/durham/

Samaritans freephone 116123 (Confidential listening service 24/7)

No to Hassockfield! MHNE Supports Campaign raising Concerns over Return to Detention at Medomsley

In January it was suddenly announced that Detention would return to a site in County Durham. A campaign group was formed, No to Hassockfield, to oppose the Home Office & Ministry of Justice plan to turn former Medomsley Detention Centre into an Immigration Removal Centre for women.

MHNE Chairperson Neil Kelly says “our main concern is that mental health and wellbeing issues for those who will be detained there have not been factored into these plans.”

Owain Gardner, core member of the campaign group, says: “The shadow of Medomsley’s past will hang heavily over the women detained there and the workers who oversee them. Its reputation for brutality and abuse of imprisoned young men is widely known.

Now known as Hassockfield, it is a place which causes pain across the North East to this day. The original plan was to demolish the buildings on-site, replacing them with housing, including affordable homes, landscaping, investment in local schools, a doctor’s surgery’s and more. They have simply railroaded this plan out of existence at short notice, with no local scrutiny and no local voice was heard, despite the site’s history.”

Owen Temple, a Durham County Councillor also from the group, was stunned to learn that none of the men abused at Medomsley nor any of the workers who had been employed at the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre were consulted.   The mental health implications of an Immigration Removal Centre being forced onto County Durham are immense, especially as the investigation into Medomsley Detention Centre, Operation Seabrook, is still taking evidence.

Former MEP Julie Ward said "As a woman who campaigns vigorously to end violence against women, I am appalled at the government's continued use of detention in respect of vulnerable women, many of whom are already deeply traumatised by their experiences. Women asylum seekers experience violence at every stage of their journey and many suffer PTSD. It is time for the UK to end this cruel unnecessary practice. We can’t thank MHNE enough for their support in this campaign.”
The centre is due to open this Summer, with a view to holding up to 87 women, despite the Westminster Government’s policy being to reduce both the Estate and numbers in detention.

Ultimately, however, the mental health implications for those women who will be held there are too often ignored. Agnes Tonah, a former Asylum Seeker who was held in Yarl’s Wood, spoke to No To Hassockfield saying: “detention destroys a woman. Women become depressed and suicidal. This is personal for me… I don't want to see this happen to any of my sisters who are looking for safety."

The campaign has grown from nothing to having local, national and international reach. From Lord Alf Dubs supporting the campaign to an article in the Observer and even attention in Brussels. Find out more here: https://northeastbylines.co.uk/no-to-hassockfield/ and if you have your own concerns, please consider writing to the local press. The campaign is on Twitter at @NoToHassockfield and https://www.facebook.com/groups/358544485247513

'Let's eat pies and talk about men's mental health'

Men’s Pie Club is about local guys, making pies. Supported by Food Nation, a social enterprise based in Newcastle, MPC was developed in response to the need for increasing levels of social connections and feelings of belonging for men in the North East of England.

This year, McColl's Brewery, based in Bishop Auckland launched a new brew in a can: Black and White Pepper Bitter 'Let's eat pies and talk about men's mental health'.  Brewery co-owner Danny McColl's hopes to raise £2500 with £1 from every can of beer donated to MPC (you can also donate directly on MPC's website).

Jamie Sadler, who set up MPC said - "We’re so chuffed to be working with Danny and Gemma on this, it really is a great opportunity to raise funds, the profile of Men's Pie Club and our efforts to tackle issues associated with social isolation. We’re also very proud to be collaborating with McColl’s to make this happen, they completely understand what we are trying to achieve – and they make incredible beer!"

Read more here, including a recipe for the perfect chicken pie and how to buy Black Pepper Bitter online: https://mccollsbrewery.co.uk/blogs/news/lets-eat-pies-recipe-all-for-a-great-cause

CNTW NHS Reassurances that Mental Health Services availability

As England enters a third national lockdown to control the spread of a new variant of COVID-19, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) are reassuring the public that NHS mental health and learning disability services across North Cumbria and the North East are still available.

John Lawlor OBE, Chief Executive at CNTW, said: “We know that many people are understandably worried about catching or spreading the virus. People are also worried about being a ‘burden’ when the NHS system is under pressure. But the NHS is here to support your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as your physical health.  We want to reassure everyone that CNTW are continuing to provide mental health and learning disability services during this challenging period.  

"You shouldn’t put off seeing a doctor about a physical health condition, and the same goes for your mental health: the earlier you seek help, the better.

"It is understandable if you feel you need more mental health support at the moment. Lots of people are facing increased stress and anxiety, about their own health and the health of friends and family, bereavements, financial insecurity, and changes to how they must live and work.

“Mental health services are still open and providing advice, care and treatment from our expert professionals. If you feel like you need some more support, please speak to your GP or Care Coordinator."

Where people can seek help:

NHS psychological therapies services (also known as IAPT, which stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) can help with a range of common mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder. You can refer yourself for support, or ask your GP to make a referral for you. Find more details about your local psychological therapies service here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/

If someone is in a mental health crisis and needs urgent help, they can call CNTW's regional crisis teams 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These are emergency specialist teams, working with all ages and mental health conditions, and will ensure you get the help you need:

·         For the Northumberland and North Tyneside Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 861. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 07887625277.)

·         For the Sunderland and South Tyneside Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 867. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 07889036280.)

·         For the Newcastle and Gateshead Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 863. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 07919 228 548.)

·         For the North Cumbria Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 865. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 0779 565 6226.)

For mental health emergencies where someone's life is at risk or where you cannot keep someone safe, you should dial 999 or go to your nearest Emergency (A&E) Department. Specialist mental health clinicians work at A&E departments across the region, who will be able to assess and treat mental health conditions.

CNTW also offers a range of award-winning self-help guides, offering information and practical advice on coping with issues including anxiety, sleeping problems and stress. They are available in a variety of formats, including audio and British Sign Language, and can be found online at www.cntw.nhs.uk/selfhelp.

Freephone Crisis Line [County Durham and Darlington]

Did you know there is a dedicated freephone telephone service to offer emotional support to individuals living in County Durham and Darlington who are in mental or emotional distress?

Please make a note of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys' crisis telephone number 0800 0516171 in case you, or a loved one, should ever need support in a mental health emergency.

The service is for all ages including those with learning disabilities and/or autism, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering local people the opportunity to talk to trained mental health support workers about whatever is troubling them.

Advice and information on what to do in a crisis situation can be found here.

Letter to North East MPs : Funding Alert Sounded across the North East Mental Health Sector

MHNE have written an open letter to every MP in the North East to express our grave concerns about what we feel are the poor state of mental health services in the region today.

Since MHNE began in 2005 we have heard many words from politicians about how they are/were going to support and improve mental health services but we have witnessed little improvement. We have seen money moved from one location to another and described as new money but have seen no real new investment. We have witnessed waiting lists grow and we have seen one voluntary sector service after the other close.

There is still excellent work going on in the NHS, local government and in the voluntary sector but it feels as if the Government are acting in a piecemeal fashion to a real crises in the mental health sector as a result of COVID. Already stretched and underfunded services are finding it extremely difficult to cope with increased demand.

We will publish all responses from MPs in full and will indeed inform you if we do not receive a response. MHNE welcome your views on this matter.  Up to date responses can be found here.

Here is a copy of the text of our letter:

Mental Health North East is a small volunteer run charity covering the North East region. We are writing to you as a North East MP to request that you actively support our campaign for improved mental health services in the North East region.

Coronavirus has created a crisis, and after it has passed there will be further crises which impact every aspect of community and society:  an economic crisis, an unemployment crisis, a public health crisis, an education crisis, a social care crisis, a loneliness crisis, a domestic violence crisis, a child abuse crisis, an addiction crisis, a mental health crisis.
Mental Health voluntary organisations are experiencing massive growth in demand for listening and support services to the point where budgets are stretched to extremes. These organisations are dealing with a tidal wave of callers overwhelmed by stress and anxiety which are appropriate responses to extremely challenging circumstances.

Severe acute conditions caused by grief, loss and hopelessness will become part of the natural pattern of afflictions. There are catastrophic funding implications for the Voluntary and Charity sector that will see many well-established charities and safety nets broken and disappearing altogether. As you will know, the sector is already covering for ever-diminishing community provision from cash strapped local authorities and statutory health providers.

The effect of lockdown alone will be sustained and significant. Incidents of domestic violence and domestic homicide have already increased. As will child abuse, family breakdown, child distress, suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical health difficulties, poverty, homelessness, isolation, and the impact of a collective, worldwide trauma. Groups that suffer the disproportionate burden of multiple disadvantages will be further hit by an impact that we anticipate will be extreme and prolonged.

Social distancing and intermittent lockdown will likely be with us long after this initial battle. We witnessed a beleaguered NHS buckling under the demands of saving lives in this first wave.  The second and subsequent waves will make the same demands of public health, social care, mental health, and education.  As feeling distressed becomes the norm, existing mental health conditions have been exacerbated on a vast scale.

Mental Health North East therefore calls upon the UK Government:
To restore the funding lost to the mental health services in the North East and other areas of the UK. Underfunding of mental health services has resulted in huge financial losses to the UK in terms of additional support services but also has a huge economic impact on business and this has directly and indirectly resulted in preventable suicides. The current pandemic is making this situation much worse. To invest money in mental health services will not only alleviate the suffering of many people but could also save money in the long term.