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Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness: February news from your local health and social care champion!

Welcome to the February edition of our newsletter. This month we are talking about the benefits of volunteering, new pharmacy services that take pressure off GPs and we are introducing our latest project - Adult Autism Pathways.

We are always here to listen and in particular, this month we would love to hear about your experiences of receiving or waiting for cancer treatment. Please see the below article for how to get involved and help decision-makers shape future care.

Are you receiving treatment for cancer or are you waiting to start treatment?

If you live in Barrow, Eden or South Lakes, we would like you to get in touch and share your experience so we can ensure NHS leaders and decision-makers consider your views when making plans to improve services.

We would also like to hear from people who have completed treatment. We don’t want to hear only about experiences of poor treatment but also those examples of great practice.

If you would like to share your story please contact us at: 0300 373 2820 or email [email protected]

If you would like to say something about a specific service you can find your local service on our Feedback Centre and fill in a short survey (anonymously if you prefer).

Last year Healthwatch across England shared worrying experiences that suggested a lot still needs to happen to make sure cancer is flagged at the earliest opportunity and pathways to diagnosis and treatment are as smooth as possible.

  • 45% of respondents said they weren’t referred for suspected cancer at the first appointment.
  • 28% of respondents had to wait up to a month after their first appointment to be told they were being referred.
  • One in ten cancer referrals don’t directly progress to a hospital appointment, with some referrals rejected, lost or otherwise not booked.

Read more.

Are you receiving treatment for cancer or are you waiting to start treatment?
Person waiting with linked hands

Thought about becoming a volunteer?

Are you interested in helping your community and making a positive impact on Health and Social care services in Westmorland and Furness? If so, Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness are looking for volunteers like you!

We are looking for individuals who are passionate about health and social care and who want to make a difference in their community. You don’t need any specific qualifications or experience to become a Healthwatch Volunteer – all you need is a desire to help and a willingness to learn.

As a volunteer with Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of people in your community. You will work alongside a team of like-minded individuals who are passionate about improving health and social care services for everyone.

Click below for the benefits of becoming a volunteer and how to get involved.

Continue reading.

Think Pharmacy First for new services
Female pharmacist smiling whilst fulfilling a prescription

Think Pharmacy First for new services

Pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women under the age of 65 without the need for a GP appointment or prescription. This includes supplying antibiotics where appropriate.

Not every pharmacy will be able to treat these conditions but nine out of 10 will offer the service - 10,265 across the country. Pharmacies have to opt-in to the scheme and have the right IT support to be able to hold consultations on the conditions.

The scheme, which started last week is part of a change in how the NHS delivers care, giving the public more choice in where and how they access care, aiming to free up 10 million GP appointments a year. There were 9,800 pharmacy consultations on the first day of the scheme according to NHS England (NHSE).

People can self-refer or be referred by the 111 service or their GP. Pharmacists can also initiate consultations on the spot.

You can find pharmacies near you online at Find a pharmacy although the list does not give information on which pharmacy is delivering the new services. It builds on the successful expansion of the contraceptive pill service in December 2023, with more than 5,000 pharmacies now registered to offer women the chance to get a supply of oral contraception over the counter from their pharmacy without needing to first see their GP.

We’d be interested to hear from you how well local pharmacies, GPs and integrated care boards are promoting the service in your area – email [email protected].

Read the full article.

Adult Autism Pathways

In the UK, more than 1 in 100 people are autistic, which amounts to around 700,000 individuals. When you include their families, autism is a significant part of daily life for 2.8 million people. It's not uncommon for some adults to reach adulthood without a diagnosis, but getting a diagnosis can help them understand the difficulties they face and receive the support they need.

Our upcoming project, Adult Autism Pathways, is a direct result of listening to the experiences of adults in our community. They told us about how they felt undergoing the autism assessment process and the issues they faced. This project aims to discover what is working well with the assessment process, what support is available during and after the process, and to highlight areas that may need improving.

Click below to read more and find out how to be a part of this upcoming project.

Read more.

*NEW FEATURE: Signpost Spotlight*

Highlighting some of the amazing people we work with.

Signpost Spotlight
Mia, Fundraising and Engagement Officer for CancerCare North Lancashire and South Cumbria

"I am a Fundraising and Engagement Officer for CancerCare North Lancashire and South Cumbria, based in Barrow. I first came to CancerCare as a client - I was supporting my mother who was diagnosed with lung cancer. The kindness and care I received helped me through the most difficult time in my life. My role now is to share all the amazing support available. We provide free professional therapies to people affected by cancer or bereavement- the person with the diagnosis and their families. They can access 1:1 talking therapies, therapeutic massage, mindfulness coaching, nutrition support and so much more. Children as young as 3 receive talking and play therapy, and the Re:fresh Peer Support Group provides a safe and fun place for teens to relax with people who understand what they are going through."

Get in touch with CancerCare on 01229 836926 or by visiting

Thanks for reading