The fourth Healthwatch Northumberland AGM took place last week, with more than 70 people attending.
Healthwatch Northumberland is the local independent champion for people who use health and social care, listening to what people like about services or what could be improved and sharing their views with the service providers, commissioners and councillors.
The meeting, in Stannington, saw partners and local organisations come together with supporters and other members of the public to review the year of work from Healthwatch Northumberland, plus an outline of the strategic priorities until 2020.
Chairman David Thompson opened the meeting by thanking former chairman Cynthia Atkin for her work since the inception of Healthwatch Northumberland in 2013.
The guest speaker was Graham Tebbutt, head of strategy and transformation at North East Ambulance Service, who explained the new ambulance response standards.
“The change in ambulance response standards is the biggest in a generation and it’s important that patients and the public are aware of what this means for them,” he said.
“The opportunity to speak at the AGM was a fantastic chance to highlight what is happening before the changes take effect.
“I hope our presentation helped people to better understand the new national response standards.”
A marketplace of stands from local support and community organisations offering advice and information was a popular addition at the event, with Age UK Northumberland, Northumberland Cancer Support Group, Northumberland County Blind Association, Northumberland CVA, Carers Northumberland, Northumberland Independent Advocacy Service, Patient Advice and Liaison Service and Ageing Well Allies in attendance.
Mr Thompson said: “All in all, this was a well-attended and illuminating AGM with thanks due to the many stall-holders who were able to display and talk about the varied services which they offer to the wider community.
“Importantly, the event also presented an opportunity for members of the public to raise issues of general concern to Healthwatch Northumberland staff and board members. This is what we are all about – listening to what people have to say about their health and care services and then responding in the most appropriate way to councillors, commissioners and providers.
“And that is what we shall continue to do during the remainder of this year and beyond.”