A Better Hospital for Berwick Our Timeline

After the Facebook Group was launched in late August 2018 the ‘ABHFB’ campaign swiftly took off.
Detailed below is our campaign timeline, capturing our most recent activity and working backwards...

Wed 12th Dec - Q&A: Question 13

Q.13) When is the new hospital site to be announced?

A.13) We expect a decision to be made by the end of the year.

Tue 27th Nov - Q&A Question 12

Q12.) Have the CCG/NHFT decided on a site for the new hospital?

A12.) ​The Trust does have a preferred site however negotiations are ongoing.

Mon 26th Nov - Q&A: Question 11

Q11.) ​Will plans for a new hospital take into account the population growth which the town is about to experience? Over 400 hundred houses are currently being built in Berwick. There are plans to build more in the next couple of years. Investment in tourism in the town is stepping up. There will be more people visiting Berwick than ever before. Surely it would be better to have a hospital ready and prepared to cope the with population growth and influx of tourism which will happen in the coming years?

A11.) Detailed planning has taken place to inform the business case for the new hospital in Berwick. This includes an analysis of activity over the last three years and predicted future demand, which has informed future commissioning intentions for services in Berwick. Healthcare has changed lots over the years, informed by the national healthcare direction of travel, and will continue to change thanks to advances in treatments and techniques and a shift towards providing care outside of hospitals and maintaining people’s independence at home as much as possible. It is important that we deliver sustainable / future proofed services for local people.

Fri 23rd Nov - Q&A: Question 10

Q10.​) It has been 3 years since the Cramlington hospital opened. Yet, despite commitments, there is still no sign of dedicated public transport from the Berwick area to Cramlington hospital (despite additional services being provided from Newcastle and other areas). When will this service be provided? There is public transport from Berwick to The Northumbria hospital although we appreciate that this is not direct. There was an additional bus service secured when the hospital opened and this is Arriva’s service 58, which connects both Cramlington bus and train station to The Northumbria.

A10.) We are not aware of any plans for there to be a direct bus service, however, we would be keen to work with the bus companies re timings etc if they were willing to commission such a service.
As answered previously to question two, the Trust does have a transport service to support patients and family members.

Thu 22nd Nov - Q&A: Question 9

Q9.) Why do children aged 12 and under have to travel to Wansbeck to have routine blood samples taken when any doctor, nurse or phlebotomist should be able to do this; or, if they can’t, then those in Berwick should be appropriately trained to do so? It is unacceptable that a child should have to miss a day of school, and an accompanying adult a day of work, and incur the associated costs of that day out, for the sake of a such a quick and simple procedure.

A9.) There is a paediatric clinic at Berwick Infirmary that takes place twice a month and is run by Dr Cardwell. If bloods are required then they will be taken in the clinic or in the phlebotomy clinic at Wansbeck General Hospital. This would depend on the nature of the blood test required as some need direct and quick access to the lab or the procedure may be more complex. There are additional staff at Wansbeck that will support those children who find having a blood test very upsetting and challenging.
We would expect routine bloods to be taken at the GP surgery.

Wed 21st Nov - Q&A: Question 8

Q8.​) The endoscope that was gifted to Berwick Infirmary by the League of Friends (i.e. paid for by local fund-raising and, therefore, effectively, belonging specifically to the town and not NHFT) is currently being used in Alnwick. When will this equipment and service be returned to Berwick Infirmary?

A8.) Equipment of this nature constantly needs to be refreshed and updated and the equipment in Berwick was old and becoming obsolete therefore we could not achieve the safety standard required to deliver the endoscopy service.


Tue 20th Nov - Q&A: Question 7

Q7.) What is being done to ensure that patients in Berwick are always offered services in Berwick first, rather than elsewhere? If the reason for offering services somewhere else instead is simply that they can be provided elsewhere more quickly, then what is being done to ensure that those services are improved and expanded to meet demand more locally in Berwick?

A7.) This again is part of the overall review and we will share the details as soon as possible.

Mon 19th Nov - Q&A: Question 6

Q6.) A £20 million loan was made to NHS Northumbria on the 20th Jan 2015 specifically for the rebuild of Berwick Infirmary. Interest repayments made to date on that loan amount to approx. £2.5 million. £3.5 million of the capital has be repaid. This leaves a balance of £21.5 million. None of the loan has been spent on Berwick Infirmary. How much interest has accrued on that unspent money?

A6.) The Trust has spent £1.7 million on design fees for the new Berwick hospital.  The interest we have paid on the £25 million loan over the period is approximately £2 million and the interest earned is about £300,000.

Fri 16th Nov - Q&A: Question 5

Q5.​) Why won’t some consultants travel to Berwick? If there is a clear need to provide their specialist services in Berwick are they obliged to run clinics there? Or is it in fact the case that even if there is a high demand for a particular service, and it would be straightforward to deliver it, it simply will not be provided if the expert clinician associated with it refuses to travel. Is that the case?

A5​) This links to our answer to Question 4 and will form part of the overall review.

Thu 15th Nov - Q&A: Question 4

Q4.) ​Why is it that patients seem to be offered the choice of quicker appointments at hospitals further away for services that are available at Berwick but apparently mostly only with longer waiting times? Why isn’t Berwick included as an equally quick option to choose from? And even if appointments elsewhere are available sooner, shouldn’t patients be given the option to wait for one in Berwick if they wish; especially if it would otherwise prove difficult for them to travel. Is this being done merely to meet targets? Or has it been done to create the appearance of lower demand for services in Berwick to justify the erosion of their provision over the years?

A4​.) Targets do exist within the NHS and it is important that we achieve such targets. For example, no more than two weeks wait for cancer appointments, as I am sure you would agree, important to achieve given the nature of the appointment. The Trust will make every endeavour to ensure this appointment is made within the 2 weeks – sometimes this will mean you have to travel for an appointment however it is extremely important to ensure patients get on to the correct treatment pathway as soon as possible.
However we recognise that, on more routine appointments, we can do more to minimise travel for patients from Berwick and the surrounding area. The Trust is reviewing all clinics and services to understand what is possible. This review is taking place now and any actions implemented prior to a new hospital build.

Wed 14th Nov - Q&A: Question 3

Q3) ​Why have there been no practising healthcare professionals who are also local residents to represent Berwick’s unique circumstances and needs on any of the NCC, NHFT or the CCG.

A3​) Please note the Trust do employ healthcare professionals from Berwick and the surrounding areas. Some are at a very senior level within the Trust.

Tue 13th Nov - Q&A: Question 2

Q2. ​Public transport is not always appropriate and not everybody in our area has a car, access to a car, or can afford to pay transport costs. Are patients being offered free, suitable, easily accessible transport to get to hospital appointments at the appropriate time for treatment which cannot be provided locally?

A2) ​The Trust has a transport service to support patients and family members.
If you need help to get to an appointment then please contact the patient transport service as detailed on the appointment letter. If you are turned down then you may appeal this decision.
If you remain unsuccessful and are a patient at either of the two GP practices in Berwick needing to access Wansbeck General Hospital or The Northumbria hospital (Cramlington), please ring 01289 356625 to arrange transport.

For visiting: We have a dedicated free daily car service which leaves Berwick
Infirmary to arrive in time for visiting at both The Northumbria hospital and Wansbeck General Hospital, returning afterwards. Please call 01289 356664 access this service.

Monday 12th Nov - Q&A: Question 1

Our daily “Q & A” post starts today (Monday 12th November)

We will post a question that we’ve asked the Health Authority followed by their answer back to ABHFB.  There’ll be a new one every day Mon - Fri.

Q1) ​Why have local healthcare professionals employed by NHFT been prevented from voicing the same concerns which we know they share with the public?

Surely theirs are the very opinions which should most be heard, listened to, and acted upon; given their invaluable frontline perspective on the local provision of services needed for the future? Will NHFT, therefore, pledge their commitment, publicly, openly and transparently, to undertake to extend such consultation and engagement as they have already conducted with the general public specifically to surveying the opinions of local healthcare professionals; and to reporting back similarly publicly, openly and transparently on the views those local healthcare professionals express; and in the same format and detail as former feedback from the public was reported?

format and detail as former feedback from the public was reported?

A1​) No healthcare professional employed by the Trust has been prevented from voicing their concerns regarding any plans relating to Berwick Hospital. Staff have been engaged in discussions relating to the new hospital over many months and will continue to be engaged as plans develop further. In addition, some staff have also requested 1:1 discussions with managers to discuss the plans and these meetings have taken place. As a principle the Trust will never prevent staff from raising concerns about anything - there are formal and informal channels available for staff to do this.

5th Nov 2018 - Healthwatch Listening Event Summary

The summary from the Healthwatch listening event held at The Swan Centre on 27th sept 2018 can be read here

Sat 3rd Nov - Berwick Charity Fair

Some of the Committee and our volunteers attended Berwick's Charity Fair at The Guildhall on Sat 3rd Nov.


2nd Nov 2018 - New Promotional Poster

A new promotional poster has been created for the campaign, it can be downloaded here

Print one off and show your support!

2nd Nov 2018

Weekly Committee meeting held on Friday morning 09:00 - 11:00

w/c 22nd Oct 2018

ABHFB - Logo created for use across a variety of media and promotional material.

Thanks to Jim Herbert!

22nd October 2018

A joint response (e-mail) has been sent back to Mr Jim Mackey to his letter of Monday 15th October and Ms Bainbridge to her letter of Thursday 18th October. Read the full letter here

19th Oct 2018

Weekly committee meeting on Friday morning 09:00 - 11:00

18th Oct 2018

Letter received from Vanessa Bainbridge, Accountable Officer - NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group via Stephen Young, Strategic Head of Corporate Affairs - NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group.

Tue 16th Oct 2018

Letter, response to our communication of 8th Oct 2018 received from Jim Mackey, Chief Executive Northumbrian Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The letter can be viewed HERE

12th Oct 2018

1,000 individual posts on Facebook Group 

Fri 12th Oct 09:00 - 11:00

Committee weekly meeting 09:00 – 11:00

Agreed roles within the group, comms and way forward

Volunteers Meeting 12:00 – 14:00, Salvation Army Hall

Thu 11th Oct 2018

Steven, Gordon & Jonathan travelled to Morpeth for the Health & Wellbeing Board meeting

Volunteers Meeting held in the evening.

Wed 10 Oct 2018

Steven, Gordon & Jonathan travelled to Morpeth for the NHS Northumberland CCG – Primary Care Commissioning Committee meeting. Public meeting from 10am

Jen and Edward attended the Healthwatch Northumberland drop - in at Berwick Library (held from 1-4pm)

Evening – Volunteers got together at The Castle to discuss workload and actions required.

Mon 08 Oct 2018

Response from ABHFB to the news of a stand-alone site is e-mailed to the following:

Northumbria Health Authority NHS Foundation Trust

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group

All Northumberland County Councillors

The House of Commons: Anne-Marie Trevelyan & Tom Forrester

The House of Lords: Jeremy Purvis & Alan Beith


The full communication and recipient list can be viewed here:


Fri 05 Oct 2018

Committee Weekly meeting 09:00 - 11:00

Agreed a co-ordinated ‘official’ response to the announcement of a standalone site

Thu 04 Oct 2018

Members of the committee and the public assembled to be interviewed by the BBC and ITV. Outside the Infirmary (13:00-1400) Sharon Barbour set up for BBC Look North. There was a live link to the 13:30 lunchtime broadcast and an edited report on the evening (18:30) and late (22:00) bulletins. In front of the Town Hall (14:30-15:30) Katie Cole recorded material for ITV’s evening (18:00) and late (22:00) bulletins.

Wed 3rd Oct 2018

At a public meeting the following individuals received a mandate from those present to represent local people as A Better Hospital for Berwick: Jennifer Mclean, Gordon Mclean, Isabel Hunter, Deb Paget, Kirsty Jamieson, Gayle Skelly, Edward Frank, Michael Crawford, Steven Havelin, Michael Stewart, Alex Gibson and Dorothy Wakenshaw.

There was a summary of what had happened since the last public meeting. A number of representatives spoke. The public discussed, in groups, priorities to feed back to the committee. The meeting ended with a Questions & Answers session.

Thu 27th Sept 2018 - Newcastle Chronicle

The Newcastle Chronicle’s online report by Hannah Graham highlights the experiences of Simon Garland’s son Wade; Edward Frank’s son Zachariah; Joan Arnfield; and Kristine Reilly’s daughter Kathryn.

27th Sept 2018 - Berwick Advertiser Meeting

Ian Smith of The Berwick Advertiser met with Jennifer Mclean, Gordon Mclean, Mike Crawford, Deb Paget and Steven Havelin to report on that morning’s events. That report was online by the evening.

27th Sept 2018 - The Swan Centre, 10:00 - 13:00

Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, and Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group together fronted a ‘drop-in’ session for the public to voice their views.

This was billed as a listening exercise to garner local opinions about the hospital. It was a big PR exercise with a swathe of show boards featuring big glossy posters advertising the merits of the new hospital and its services. The logos of all three of the fronting organisations (NCC, NHFT, CCG) were prominently displayed, side by side, along the bottom of each poster, clearly conveying the message of their combined, coordinated, collaborative approach.

Members of the public, on entry, were directed to sign an attendance record and fill in a survey slip. This slip gave two statements. People were asked to tick one. the overwhelming majority of those who reported back ticked the statement for a stand-alone hospital and crossed out the word ‘integrated’ in that statement because they were either unsure what it meant, or disagreed with the term as they understood it.

At the end of the session officials refused to conduct a verified public count. They were told to archive all the paperwork until further notice and to ensure they were able to produce it for scrutiny when asked.

Several members of the ABHFB committee gave their names and email contacts to key officials present asking that ABHFB be include in talks from now on. In particular Stephen Holmes promised Steven Havelin that Daljit Lally would be happy to meet and talk.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Georgina Hill had both been asked, several times, in the run up to the drop-in, to confirm with Peter Jackson and Daljit Lally whether they would both attend. As the delegated key decision-makers it was felt they ought to be there. Georgina Hill had finally confirmed that they would not be there.

Stephen Holmes, on the day, explained that had they attended they would have heard a limited number of opinions from those only who had had the chance to speak to them one-to-one; whereas they felt they ought to have an impartial overview of everyone’s input in the overall feedback they would receive.

Thu 27th Sept 2018 - Berwick Advertiser

The local newspaper, The Berwick Advertiser, leads with the frontpage headline: “Councillors raise hopes over hospital” noting that Peter Jackson had agreed to ask Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to review its plans and urgently look at an alternative stand-alone site for the proposed new hospital.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust pay for a 4-page wrap-around which covers up this week’s edition of The Berwick Advertiser.

Wed 26th Sept 2018 - 12:00

Minutes of the meeting with Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Tue 18 Sep) are published on the 'ABHFB' Facebook group.

Wed 26th Sept 2018 - CCG Governors Meeting, Morpeth Town Hall

Jennifer Mclean, Gordon Mclean, Alex Gibson, Deb Paget, Mike Crawford, Jonathan Gargan and Steven Havelin attended a CCG Governors public meeting.

Siobhan Brown asked the panel of 13 if they wanted to respond on the point of robust engagement in Berwick and there being no significant variation in services planned for Berwick. There was no response from anyone on the panel. None of them acknowledged all the concerns that had been raised.

Stephen Young spoke to say that the feedback report on the CCG’s engagement process in Berwick was considered in detail and deemed to be robust; and that communication would continue the following day with the 10am-1pm consultation in Berwick. He also noted that responsibility for the decision on collocation/stand-alone leisure and hospital elements has been delegated to the Leader [Peter Jackson] and the Chief Executive [Daljit Lally].

David Shovlin gave a presentation in which he highlighted that both patients and primary carers put ‘good access’ and ‘continuity of care’ at the top of their lists.

Siobhan Brown, towards the end of her presentation on Primary Care stated “we know a lot about our patients’ needs”.

ABHFB members were permitted to speak at the conclusion of the meeting. They gave a summary of their concerns and invited the CCG to agree to set up a meeting. Each CCG governor present was issued with a copy of this invitation from one of the ABHFB members. They asked for that to happen before end of October. They gave next Wednesday (03 October) as the deadline for a response.

CCG Governors assured ABHFB members that they were aware of everything from members’ emails and social media. They claimed NCC, NHFT and CCG were thrashing things out between them. They assured ABHFB members they would be in touch to include ABHFB in talks.

Steven Havelin spoke afterwards with Janet Guy, the CCG Governors' Chair, who appeared very understanding and concerned, and promised to respond.

Wed 26th Sept 2018

Several members of ABHFB received the same 4-page letter from Anne-Marie Trevelyan addressing their combined concerns. The letter is published on the ABHFB Facebook page. A copy of the letter can be viewed here

Mon 24th Sept - Berwick Town Council Meeting

At a meeting of Berwick Town Council, local councillors pledged their unanimous support for the aims of ABHFB

Mon 24th Sept 2018

Northumbria Healthcare Trust released a promotional video, apparently as a direct response to the ABHFB campaign. It featured Dr Colin Doig, Medical Director, addressing a number of public concerns. The video was poorly received by ABHFB members who felt it was patronising and dismissive. Dr Doig has gone on record to declare interests in a number of private medical insurance companies.

Thu 20th Sept 2018 - Berwick Advertiser

The local newspaper, The Berwick Advertiser, leads with the frontpage headline: “Councillors call for new hospital site”. Northumberland County Council councillors and Berwick residents Georgina Hill, Catherine Seymour and Gregah Roughead wrote to Peter Jackson and Daljit Lally calling for a two-site solution is that the new hospital would be a stand-alone building on its own separate site. Peter Jackson is Leader of Northumberland County Council). Daljit Lally is Chief Executive of Northumberland County Council as well as being Executive Director of Delivery for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. This joint role was a unique appointment which has not been replicated in any other county/health authority partnership in the country.

Wed 19th Sept 2018

Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Well Close Medical Group called for emails detailing patients' experiences. ABHFB urged all members to submit simultaneously their contributions to both email address, as well as the ABHFB email address so that all responses could be logged and monitored.

Tue 18th Sept 2018 - Meeting with Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP

Campaign members Jennifer Mclean, Isabel Hunter, Deb Paget and Steven Havelin met with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick, and her Chief of Staff Tom Forrester, to discuss matters and ask for a public statement of support for the aims of A Better Hospital for Berwick. Anne-Marie later that day put out a not unsupportive, if somewhat non-committal, statement on Twitter accompanied by a photo of her with Jennifer, Isabel and Steven. A written record of the meeting was sent to Anne-Marie allowing one week for any additions or amendments. After no response to two reminders this document was published online on the ABHFB group page at noon on Wednesday 26 September.

15th Sept 2018

10,000 comments on the group Facebook page!

Thu 13th Sept 2018 - Berwick Advertiser

The local newspaper, The Berwick Advertiser, leads with the frontpage headline: “Big protest fails to halt health and leisure plan”.

Email and social media activity stepped up.

12th Sept 2018

ABHFB Facebook Group reaches 500 individual posts

Mon 10th Sept 2018 - The Swan Centre 10:00-12:00

Northumberland County Council Cabinet Committee met to decide whether to recommend the proposed plans for an integrated co-located leisure centre and hospital should go ahead. More than 300 objectors to those plans turned out to demonstrate against them. The Cabinet Committee nevertheless went ahead and approved the plans. BBC Look North’s Sharon Barbour covered the story which made the lunchtime, evening and late broadcast bulletins. Channel 5 also reported the story.

6th Sept 2018

ABHFB Facebook Group reaches 3,000 members

Wed 5th Sept 2018 - The Salvation Army Hall, 19:00-21:00

Public meeting. 140 people attended.

The group’s aims were established as:

A stand-alone hospital for Berwick, on its own separate site.

Providing all the healthcare services promised in 2014 plan, with room to expand in the future.

People began to email decision-makers and public figures including:

Lord Beith (former Liberal MP for Berwick for 42 years); Lord Purvis (former resident of Berwick whose father was a local ambulance man for many years); the Prime Minister, Theresa May; the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock; Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick (via her personal email, the Team Trevelyan account, her Chief of Staff Tom Forrester, and Abby Oliver her PA); members of Berwick Town Council; members of Northumberland County Council; executive and non-executive officers of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; and members of the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group.

26th Aug 2018

Kirsty Jamieson starts posting on Twitter with the hashtag #abetterhospitalforberwick

The Facebook group reaches 2,000 members

23rd Aug 2018

Nigel Szczepaniak started our Facebook group