Practice News

9th Mar

Snow Plans

With weather warnings in place for the next few days we currently plan to operate as usual. Please try not to contact the practice to check if your appointment is going ahead - unless you hear otherwise, please attend if it is safe for you to travel.
Plans are in place if staff are unable to safely travel to Stanhope or Wolsingham and we will contact patients if we need to make any changes to appointments booked for Thursday or Friday.
Thank you and stay safe & warm over the next few days.
1st Mar

We have changes to our Doctor team

Dr Ben Rowley sadly left us in January 2023 to relocate to Cumbria with his family. Dr Rowley had been with the practice since 2014.

Dr Matthew Hackett will be leaving the practice as GP Partner at the end of March but will continue his diabetes clinics. Dr Hackett has been with us for 25 years.

We are pleased to announce that Dr Helen Farrah will be joining the practice in April as GP Partner and Dr Kate Thomas will join us as a salaried GP in March.

Dr Amy Rowan is on maternity leave from mid-March and Dr Jenny O'Brien joins the team to provide cover. 

Dr Tom Rowley has been away from the practice for a few weeks on paternity leave following the birth of his second child.

Big changes which has left us in a period of transition and fewer short-notice and routine appointments than we would normally have. We do have agency staff working with us to try and support the demand. 

In April, we will be doing a piece of work to reassign patients with a named/usual GP.



13th Feb

Friends and Family Results - January

Thank you to all of our patients who continue to complete the Friends and Family survey on a monthly basis.

We review the comments on a monthly a basis make changes where possible - we can't do everything and it often takes a little time to implement some improvements - but we do listen, so thank you to everyone who takes the time to give us feedback.

9th Feb

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAAs) are a weakening in the aorta that can swell and rupture causing fatal internal bleeding. They usually don’t have symptoms and are most common in men aged over 65.
AAA screening is a free NHS national programme that invites men in the year they turn 65, to attend a quick and painless 10 minute ultrasound scan.
Last year over 107 AAAs were detected by the North East and North Cumbria AAA Screening Service.
Over 4400 Men in the North East and North Cumbria did not attend their invitation for AAA screening in 2021/22. Don’t be one of the men who miss out.
When you receive your invitation DON’T ignore it. It could save your life!
Watch the AAA Video to find out more:
16th Jan


There's a post on one of the noticeboards asking about a Patient Survey that a patient has received.
This is an annual survey sent to a percentage of the patient population for each practice. We do receive the results and have a mandatory obligation to implement an improvement plan. We posted the results on Facebook in March for transparency.
Last year the survey was sent to 264 patients but only 128 completed the survey, so not very representative of the patients in Weardale.
Random coincident & fact - 43% of responders said they found it easy to get through to the practice. We also answer 43% of all calls with 2 minutes.
If you receive one, please complete it if you can. Your opinions really do matter.
16th Jan


We're really keen for patients to make use of online access via our website or the NHS app. Follow the link find out how to access via the NHS app and visit our website.
You don't need to have registered for online access to book appointments if you have been sent a text message with a link.
16th Jan


We have started to send patient invitations to eligible patients and will be contacting those without mobile numbers by phone.
Clinics are booking incredibly well and we will be adding further clinics over the next few weeks.
If you can book the appointment using the link we send, please do so - it helps us reduce any influx of telephone calls that this process can generate.
Thank you.
16th Jan


Appointment reminders will now be sent for all routine HCA appointments to try and tackle the volume of non-attenders. These will be sent the day before your appointment at lunchtime.
We will start sending reminders for nurse appointments shortly. We need to do some further configuration of the clinical system to ensure you don't receive texts for 'behind the scenes' activity that we record.
If you are using the NHS app you have easy access to all your appointment information.
16th Jan


We're contacting eligible patients to book an appointment for a blood pressure & pulse checks. You may wonder why....
From those recently attended, we have identified 8 patients who have atrial fibrillation. Without AF being identified and treat
ed they could have had a serious outcome without any pre-warning. We can now work with the patients to manage the condition. Without this very simple test for patients who may not be presenting with any symptoms, it's life changing. You could feel fit and healthy but still be at risk.
This is one example of why we would like to bring you in.
We have QOF (I'll explain this another day but Google if your interested) targets to achieve every year and actively carry out work on a monthly basis to bring in patients who are at risk of disease that the QOF indicators have identified. If we send you a text asking you to book an appointment, that you haven't initiated, we're asking you to book to possibly identify health issues, manage them and improve your health. And yes, for the critics out there, this is how we earn money, by achieving targets (like most businesses). QOF income is approx £120k. Not much.
Further reading from British Heart Foundation and NHSE.
Practice Statistics for Feb 2022
23rd Feb 2022

Our Practice in Numbers

Many moons ago, the practice published performance figures and we are now in a position to start publishing monthly stats again. A newsletter is planned but for monthly stuff the News section is the place to find this information. Watch this space for the February update and more information about the practice.

10th Jan 2022

New Faces to The Weardale Practice

The Weardale Practice is welcoming 3 new members of staff today.
This is a great start to 2022 and fantastic news for our patients. We are very aware that due to the volume of calls, patient queries and admin time to support the busy appointment diary - we often struggle to meet our patient expectations. With more admin time, I am confident that you will see an impact over the next few months.
Amy, Duncan and Sam are joining the practice to work in our busy admin back-office and reception teams. Their induction training is very intensive and we are all keen for them to be patient-facing as soon as possible.
Kati Makepeace
Strategic Practice Manager
13th Dec 2021

Covid Boosters

Following the announcement by Boris Johnson on Sunday, we are looking to increase our vaccination clinics. We are constrained by the vaccination ordering process and await further information from our CCG. We will make further announcements as soon as we have dates and vaccines. 

Please do not phone the practice to try and book an appointment.

8th Dec 2021

Why we ask for PCR Testing

COVID-19 remains a serious health risk and you should stay cautious to help protect yourself and others. For this reason we continue to ask you to respect our policy on the requirement for all patients to have a PCR test prior to coming to the practice if you are displaying symptoms.

When booking your appointment at the practice, you will be asked if you have any symptoms, even if mild, (a high temperature; a new, continuous cough or you've lost your sense of smell or taste or they have changed). If you do, you will need to provide a negative PCR test prior to coming to an appointment. This is to protect other patients and staff. Please do not come to the practice if you are displaying symptoms- if you do, you may be asked to leave and go through the PCR testing process.

We have seen a number of comments on social media regarding the requirement to have a PCR test following a negative lateral flow and we have a large number of patients calling who are disgruntled that we are then asking for testing prior to an appointment. This is for your safety, the safety of our staff and the safety of the wider community.

if you do have a negative lateral flow test result but are displaying symptoms, you must have a PCR test prior to an appointment at the practice. These are easy to book online or by dialling 119.

There are two main tests  to check if you have Covid -19. 

  • PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they're sent to a lab to be checked Click here to book your appointment
  • rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test

For further information Coronavirus (COVID-19) - NHS (

If you do have symptoms, use the 111 coronavirus service for further infomation on what to do.

1st Dec 2021

Covid Accelerator Booster Programme

Following the recent announcement regarding the accelerated covid booster programme, we are currently working to increase capacity for further booster clinics starting in December. Despite various news outlets asking patients to call their GP practice to book an appointment - please do not contact us. We will be adding the clinics to the online booking system and further announcements will be made when these are available. 

As all 'at risk' patients, over 50s and immuno-surpressed patients have now been invited for their booster or third dose, all eligible patients will be able to book appointments via the online system. 

We will be organising further pfizer clinics for under 18s only and again, the appointments will be made available and annoucements made on our website when you can book.

Don't forget that you can book your appointment at one of the national vaccination centres on the NHS mobile app.