Where the Collaborative Newcastle journey begins

Collaborative Newcastle is an innovative new partnership which aims to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of everyone in the City.

Whilst it involves some of the biggest organisations in Newcastle – including the NHS and council – the focus is very much on individuals. It’s about making a tangible difference to the people who live here.

In some ways the journey starts, as many local trips do, with the Metro. A map of Metro stops in Newcastle, overlaid with healthy life expectancy figures (the average age when poor health arrives and someone’s quality of life is badly affected) for each area, tells a stark story about the health outcomes and life opportunities for people in the City

“For me, it’s the most visual representation of the challenge we face in terms of reducing inequalities. Despite our health services being amongst the best in the country, these figures tell a different story and that’s because access to healthcare is just one small piece of the jigsaw.

“There are lots of other factors that affect our health and wellbeing – from our employment status, housing, finances and education to the food we eat and the family, friends or community we have around us.

“We know that individually, none of our organisations can make a big enough difference on their own – we need to work really creatively and collectively to tackle the things that are holding people back.”

Martin Wilson, COO, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

One of the primary objectives of Collaborative Newcastle is to deliver a joined-up and seamless system of advice, care, treatment and support for people of all ages. A health and social care system that focuses on individual needs. A system that works across organisational boundaries to create innovative, new solutions that better support individuals and communities, rather than fitting people into an inflexible range of traditional services.

By bringing together knowledge, expertise and resources, Collaborative Newcastle is dramatically changing the way health and social care is shaped, accessed and delivered in the City – creating a person-centred approach.

“Many people across Newcastle have experienced ill-health, financial difficulties, unemployment, poor housing or social isolation. And often one of these problems can lead to, or is linked to, another. Covid-19 has caused further difficulties for individuals and communities in our City over the past 12 months and we’ve also seen a devastating impact on people’s mental health.

“Through Collaborative Newcastle we’re working in partnership to make better use of our collective resources to transform the services we provide. We want to work with residents to support and enable them to live happy, health and fulfilling lives and that starts with understanding all of their needs – not just looking to solve one problem or challenge in isolation.”

James Duncan, Deputy Chief Executive, CNTW

The Collaborative Newcastle partners began working towards their single, shared goal over 18 months ago. But when the global pandemic began, the City was better equipped to respond collectively as a result of the trust and willingness to collaborate that had already been established.

One of the biggest challenges the City faced as the first wave of Covid-19 hit, was the impact on care homes. A global shortage of PPE was a major concern and Covid-related deaths in care homes had a devastating impact on families, their loved ones and the staff who were doing their best to protect some of the most vulnerable in society.

“For all of these reasons, we quickly identified the need to work really closely and collectively with our residential and nursing homes to protect and support everyone within them. There was an urgent need to build resilience, implement outbreak control measures, access essential equipment, respond to residents’ wider physical and mental health needs and support staff as they tackled daily challenges and issues.

“Working across the Collaborative Newcastle partnership, we quickly put in place a system of daily calls to provide consistent and comprehensive advice, guidance and rapid response support to all 46 residential and nursing homes in the City. The existing nursing support team was expanded to provide holistic wraparound support and provided treatment for residents’ mental and physical health needs and best practice guidance and training to help limit the risk of infection.”

Ang Jamson, Head of Integrated Services, Newcastle City Council

This new system-wide support that we’ve developed in partnership with the care and residential home sector, means that we’re now much better placed to communicate effectively, respond more quickly and provide the right, tailored support needed at any given time.

“It’s been a real test of our collaborative approach but has demonstrated that together we can tackle some of the most pressing health challenges facing the City.”

Elaine McNamara, Directorate Manager – Newcastle Hospitals Community Services

With a vaccine roll out now underway and looking to life beyond Covid-19, Collaborative Newcastle is driving forward a number of ambitious projects.

Just one example includes our plans todramatically increase the scale and scope of social prescribing across the City. Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional and practical needs by connecting them, through a ‘link worker’, with local sources of support to help improve both mental health and physical wellbeing.

“Working in partnership, our aim is to increase the visibility, availability and access to social prescribing and its benefits as we know that this approach can make a real, tangible difference to people’s lives.”

Brendan Hill – Chair, Blue Stone Consortium

In developing the social prescribing project, the team involved cited a lady called Saima: an Asian lady in her early 70s who was referred to a link worker. Saimahad multiple health issues, was struggling with her weight, felt socially isolated and was lacking in confidence due to her English language abilities.

Introduced to and accompanied by her link worker, Saima joined a women-only exercise class, which led to a swimming group recommended by the women she met. Over time, this regular exercise not only contributed to improved physical health, weight loss and reduced pain but it also benefited Saima’s mental health, improved her confidence in speaking English and created a real sense of community belonging.

“It’s a single example but a powerful illustration of how tailored support can have a profound and positive impact on someone’s life.

“We’re making major changes in our strategic approach across all of our partner organisations but we’re determined not to lose sight of the reason behind Collaborative Newcastle. It’s about the people and communities on that Metro map. It’s people like Saima and their individual stories. It’s about making a real difference for people of all ages – children, families and the elderly alike – so that everyone in Newcastle is enabled to achieve their full potential.”

Christian Townend – CEO, Newcastle GP Services


Core Collaborative Newcastle partners include Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Gateshead NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, working closely with Newcastle Primary Care Networks, Newcastle GP Services and the voluntary sector.

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