Health & Wellbeing


Local Healthwatch Team Touched By Festive Spirit

In September the Healthwatch County Durham team announced that anyone who signed up to their monthly newsletter, packed full of all the latest health and social care news in the region, would be automatically added to a free prize draw and in with a chance of winning £50 in LOVE2SHOP vouchers.

The response was overwhelming and lucky Mel Pounder from Wolsingham was randomly selected as a winner!
Mel volunteers at the Brandon Community Hall Clothing Bank, so Outreach Officer, Faye Smith, met her there and presented Mel with her prize.
Kind-hearted Mel told Faye that she plans to donate the vouchers to someone that she knows who “is in greater need than her”, she continued, “…these vouchers will really help to make their Christmas special this year. I’m so pleased that I’ve won because it gives me the opportunity to make a difference, and I can’t wait to hand them over and see their reaction!”

Faye beamed: “In the true spirit of Christmas, Mel didn’t hesitate in wanting to give. The whole team are touched by her compassion and thrilled that the prize is going to bring so much joy.”
Your local Healthwatch team exists to ensure that people are at the heart of care and they want to hear from the people of County Durham on the matters that concern you. The best way to get involved is to sign-up to receive a postal or emailed version of their monthly newsletter, which tells you about the projects that they are working on, includes surveys, and tells you the many ways in which you can get your voice heard.
If you haven’t signed up to receive your regular copy of the Healthwatch newsletter, do this soon, as you’ll be automatically added to their latest free-prize draw and in with a chance of winning a locally produced, luxury food hamper! You can register your details by calling the team on freephone number: 0800 3047039 or via the website:

Marianne Patterson, Project Lead, proudly states: “The Healthwatch County Durham team are committed to hand-delivering a beautiful hamper to our winner before the special day, and are really excited to be truly contributing towards someone’s Christmas.”

Healthwatch County Durham - November news update

We were absolutely thrilled when two of our recent projects to improve health and social care in County Durham were recognised at the Healthwatch England Awards. Our project to make it easier for people to find quality information about care homes won the "#ItStartsWithYou" award at the event in October. Our work with vulnerable women on the accessibility of health screening was also highly commended in the "Helping people have their say" category. The #ItStartsWithYou award recognises an individual or group that has worked passionately to improve care in their community and it was our volunteer Tony Bentley who caught the judges' eyes. It was Tony's own experience of looking for a care home for his mother that originally inspired the project and he has spearheaded much of the work involved.

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The County Durham Drug & Alcohol Recovery Services are asking people to pledge a small change to their drinking behaviour and share it on social media using the hashtag #InspiredChange.

It is part of a campaign led by the Durham service during Alcohol Awareness Week which runs from the 19th to 25rd November to encourage people to review their drinking.

Anne Bell, Services Manager for County Durham Drug & Alcohol Recovery Services said: “We are hoping that in Alcohol Awareness Week people will take some time to consider how a small change to their drinking might have a big impact on their life.”

Anne continued: “There are plenty of good reasons to cut back on your drinking including watching your weight, reducing stress and saving money as well as staying healthier for longer.

“Making a small, manageable change like cutting out that after work drink or having more drink free days can mean huge health benefits and people will feel better for it. So we’re asking them to make a personal pledge to change and share it on social media using #InspiredChange.”

Alcohol Awareness Week is a national campaign organised by Alcohol Concern. The theme this year is “change”.

Healthwatch County Durham working hard to reverse falling cervical screening rates

Healthwatch County Durham is working hard to make sure women in County Durham take up their invite for cervical screening (smear tests). New figures show screening rates in England are at a 20-year low – extremely worrying as screening detects cells that could later develop into cancer. Healthwatch County Durham spoke to women from across County Durham to find out what stops them attending their tests and is encouraging local service providers and health commissioners to address these barriers. More than 850 women took part in the survey about cervical screening earlier this year.

Common reasons women gave for not attending screening included:  fear and anxiety  not being able to get a convenient appointment time  forgetting or delaying making an appointment  finding previous cervical screening painful Recommendations from this research were shared with commissioners and service providers in August and have prompted a number of service improvements. The recommendations have also been widely shared with specialist cancer staff who work directly with patients in the region to help improve the quality of information they provide. For example:  Healthwatch County Durham identified that women were confused about when they should go for screening, including the age criteria. In response, NHS England agreed to check this was included in all invite letters and information leaflets so patients are clear on the criteria for every screening programme.  Healthwatch County Durham found that many patients receiving treatment for different forms of cancer believed they did not need to attend any screening as they were already being treated.

This message was passed on by commissioners to Joining the Dots, MacMillan Information Centres, cancer specialist nurses, and cancer champions around the region to share with all cancer patients in future. County Durham Public Health also agreed to ensure the importance of attending cervical screening is explained to every young woman that receives the HPV vaccine and is made clear in HPV information leaflets. Healthwatch County Durham will continue to work to make sure women’s views on cervical screening are heard so that more women in County Durham will be happy to attend this potentially life-saving test in future. Read the cervical screening report and recommendations in full:

For more information contact Marianne Patterson, project lead, Healthwatch County Durham, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0191 378 7698. For more general information about Healthwatch County Durham visit

Macmillan Joining the Dots

I'm one of the Macmillan Joining the Dots Facilitators working in North Durham, covering the Durham City and Chester-le-St areas.

Joining the Dots is a new service which supports people with a diagnosis of cancer, their friends families and carers, with the practical, non-clinical issues that may arise throughout the cancer journey. We work closely with professionals and community organisations to help the client access the right support at the right time around areas such as housing, finance, social isolation, transport. I have attached our service leaflet and would be grateful if you could distribute amongst your contacts.

Please let me know if you would also like paper copies of the leaflet and I can arrange to get some out to you.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of our service, or would like further information. Best wishes Chloe Chloe Shaw Joining the Dots Facilitator (North Durham) Freephone: 0800 8766887 Mobile: 07342710882

Cancer Awareness Team … Can you help –

Andrea and Elliott are the Cancer Awareness team… do you have any events coming up so they can promote the work that they are doing.. If so please get in touch .. they want to be out there in the community and they are doing a great job…so please contact them to come along.. We are the community cancer awareness team based in county Durham, we are looking for opportunities to work within the county to raise awareness of cancer. The cancer awareness programme supports healthcare professionals and organisations to improve prevention and early diagnosis. We offer free tailored, practical support to help you change the way you manage cancer.

We help the health system to ;
*Support cancer prevention and promote healthy lifestyles
*Increase informed up take of screening programmes
*Improve recognition and referral of symptomatic cancers

We can work as a long term partner to your organisation, providing face to face support tailored to the needs of your organisation and local area. *Introducing a variety of early diagnosis tools and resources *Providing training on key topics such as screening programmes as referral programmes. *Fun friendly workshops *Information stands at relevant events. Hope to hear from you soon. Screening saves lives

Regards Andrea.
Andrea Mackrell Cancer Awareness Worker Mobile: 07912 293196 Office: 01325 321234 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PCP’s Together 21 Group Finalist for Regional Award

Leading health and wellbeing charity Pioneering Care Partnership are delighted to announce that Together 21 have been nominated as a finalist in the ‘Groups Making a Difference’ category at this year’s North East Equality Awards. Carol Gaskarth said: “This prestigious award, recognises the achievements of local organisations, individuals and groups in embedding inclusivity through good equality and diversity practices.”

This annual event organised by Equality North East celebrates those who’ve pioneered in leading the way to a fairer future for all. Together with those who continue to strive for, and achieve, fairness in an increasingly competitive economy. Those who demonstrate that diversity and inclusion make sound business sense and make a real difference to the lives of people from all walks of life. In April 2016 PCP began working with a group of parents and carers of children with Down syndrome and established a project entitled ’Together 21’. Together 21, which is parent led, aims to help children and young people with Down syndrome and their parents acquire essential skills that will equip them to meet the future with confidence and maximize their potential.

Together 21 allows parents to get to know each other, providing a friendship and peer support network for families at a time when they can feel excluded from their existing friendship groups. The prospect of raising a child with Down syndrome can be daunting, scary and lonely, however Together 21 helps parent to see how the older children have developed and, whilst recognising that children are unique, this provides a positive experience for parents and carers who can be coming to terms with the diagnosis during the first few weeks. Recognising what children can do, practicing techniques to aid development and having good role models is important and Together 21 embraces this. The group works tirelessly to raise awareness and promote positive perceptions about Down syndrome within mainstream schools, local communities and the workplace. A group member said: “This is an excellent provision for our daughter. She loves to come each week and it supports her in her life skills. With pressures of schools to provide an academic service this provision has been vital to support her everyday life, without this it would leave a big hole in her progress.”

Carol Gaskarth said: “I hope PCP’s application has done them justice. Parents and carers should rightly be very proud of the achievements of their children and also themselves. Without the tenacity of the initial parents who contributed in the early planning stages, Together 21 would not exist and be thriving. No matter what the outcome we want you to know that PCP is incredibly proud of all you and the children achieve and it’s a privilege to be able to support Together 21. Fingers crossed!”

The finalist will be announced at an awards ceremony which will be held on 25th October 2018. For further information about PCP or Together 21 please contact us at the Pioneering Care Centre, Carer’s Way, Newton Aycliffe,DL5 4SF tel: 01325 321234 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. website: or follow us on Twitter: @PioneeringCare and Facebook: @PCPandCentre

Healthwatch County Durham - October news update

We're excited to announce our project to improve care home websites has taken a big leap forward in recent days. Volunteer Tony Bentley (far left) has been working closely with Kaydar, a local care home, to develop a new website that provides all the information prospective residents and their relatives might need. Our research has identified that many County Durham care homes don't have all this information displayed online at present (e.g. about fees, services, and visiting protocols) and our hope is the Kaydar website will act as a template other care homes can follow to improve their own.

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‘County Durham’s local stop smoking service to give away nicotine patches ahead of Stoptober 2018’

The Stoptober campaign encourages smokers to give up for the month, based on evidence which shows that quitting for 28 days means you are five times more likely to stop for good. Smokefreelife County Durham are set to give away 1 week’s supply of free nicotine replacement therapy patches in various locations across the county to help assist those wanting to quit this Stoptober.

Stop smoking advisors will be at Consett Market, ASDA Stanley and Durham Marketplace between 10AM and 2PM on 28th September 2018. After filling out a short assessment with an advisor, potential quitters will receive a free goody bag containing one week’s worth of patches. They will then be referred to their nearest community clinic to receive ongoing support and further treatment. The events also offer the opportunity to test your carbon monoxide levels, which is one of the many toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Research shows that receiving support from a trained advisor and using licensed nicotine products makes you four times more likely to quit successfully than going it alone.

Smokefreelife County Durham offers free support to anyone living or working in County Durham. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and kills 5,584 people in the North East every year according to Fresh, the UK's first dedicated regional tobacco control programme. The benefits of quitting include smokers giving themselves a pay rise of between £1,700 - £2,400 a year as well as cutting the risk of stroke, cancers, COPD and heart disease. This year smoking prevalence hit a record low in the North East, falling from 29% of the population being smokers in 2005 to 16.2% in 2017. Between 2016-17 Smokefreelife County Durham helped 2840 people stop smoking. If you would like to give up your smoking habit for good, why not use this Stoptober as your opportunity?

For more information on the service visit or search Stoptober.

County Durham and Darlington Diabetes Service

Key Messages for August 2018 - Click Here for the latest Bulletin

Healthwatch County Durham - September news update 

News update - September 2018


The FREE stop smoking service supporting Co Durham residents to give up the habit and lead a healthier smokefree life

Smokefreelife County Durham is a service by Solutions 4 Health offering stop smoking support that works! We know that people have busy lives and that booking an appointment for things such as stopping smoking sometimes isn't easy. That's why, as well as appointments in the community near you, we offer a mobile clinic at various venues where you can drop in and see one of our approachable, fully trained advisors.

Please call 0191 369 2016 or 0800 772 0565 for more information.

Please also visit the website for further information, and details of stop smoking service clinics within the local area:

MHNE Latest Bulletin

Mental Health North East’s latest bulletin is attached for your attention.

Please note that due to high demand and the success of the Greening the Gap sessions MHNE has now opened a waiting list for organisations and individuals wishing to attend further sessions. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like your name to be entered on the list.

Best wishes Lyn Lyn Boyd CEO Mental Health North East

County Durham HWB Annual Report

The attached County Durham Health and Wellbeing Report was agreed by the Board at its meeting on 4th July 2018. Please could you share the Annual Report within your organisations, social media, websites etc. to promote it. Let me know if you need any further information.

Many thanks, Jayne Jayne Watson Senior Partnership Officer, TAP Durham County Council Room 5-140/150, Co. Hall 03000 268 371 Switchboard 03000 26 0000