People in Sunderland are being asked to help shape the future of health and care services in their local community by sharing their own experiences of accessing local services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All Together Better (ATB) is an alliance of health and care partners in Sunderland who are committed to working together to improve how care is delivered in local neighbourhoods across the City. Their aim is to make sure our community services are organised well so people have a good experience of care.

Working with Healthwatch Sunderland, health and care leaders at ATB want to hear views from local people to help understand how they accessed health and care services in the community, during COVID-19.

As an independent voice for those who use local services, Healthwatch Sunderland is supporting this work and is encouraging people living in Sunderland to complete an online survey via

Throughout the pandemic, health and care teams had to adapt quickly and in some cases fundamentally change the way that patients accessed services. This research will be vital in helping ATB understand what matters the most to people in all parts of Sunderland. It will also help NHS and partner organisations see what needs to be improved or adapted in the future as the NHS recovers from the global pandemic.

Dr Martin Weatherhead, Chair of ATB Sunderland and a practising GP in the City, said: “Responding to COVID-19 has required an incredible amount from Sunderland’s health and care system. We want to build on that work and continue to improve the way care is delivered for the people of Sunderland.

“It is important now, that we take stock to understand from people what their experience of accessing care in Sunderland has been like, so that we can we can continue to improve and overcome any challenges they may have encountered.

“If you live in Sunderland and have accessed any health or care services in the community over the past year, we would love to hear from you and encourage you to get involved. Your feedback is incredibly important and will help us to continue to make vital improvements to our services.”

ATB is keen to hear local people’s views on a range of areas, including:

  • Experiences of using any community health and care services, from GP practices to local pharmacies and the hundreds of community teams that support people at home and from local clinics
  • Experiences around medication and whether people have seen a change in any regular medications over the past year and how the NHS can better undertake reviews of the medicines and tablets people are taking
  • Experiences of using the City’s ‘Recovery at Home’ which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and responds quickly when people become suddenly unwell to help prevent hospital admissions
  • Experiences of being discharged from hospital and a new Integrated Discharge Team which has helped patients to get safely back home or to another care setting, with the right support in place to help them get well.

Working alongside Healthwatch Sunderland, ATB will conduct one-to-one patient interviews, focus groups as well as encouraging people to complete the online survey.

Dr Weatherhead added: “This is a great opportunity for the people of Sunderland to take a more active role and get involved in shaping health and care services for the future.”

The survey, which closes on 11th of July, should take no longer than 5-10 minutes to complete and can be accessed via: If you are interested in talking directly to Healthwatch Sunderland about your experience please contact (0191) 5147145. All feedback will be kept entirely confidential and anonymised and shared with All Together Better partners and local NHS neighbourhood leaders to help the NHS collectively improve services.