Tell Us North has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer, Yvonne Probert, to steer the organisation forward as the world welcomes 2023.

Bringing a wealth of experience in the voluntary sector, Yvonne is leading the organisation tasked with delivering the Healthwatch Gateshead and Healthwatch Newcastle services.

As part of an independent network of 152 Healthwatches, the Healthwatch Gateshead and Newcastle Healthwatch teams provide community engagement, research, evaluation and assessment services within the fields of health, wellbeing and social care. They also provide training and skills development for their teams of volunteers and the wider community.

Yvonne has worked with a wide range of communities across the North East in her health and social care career. Having most recently worked with older people as Head of Charity Services for Age UK North Tyneside, Yvonne was able to work closely with NHS services during the pandemic to help older people make informed choices regarding self-isolation, vaccinations, and social distancing.

Working even more closely with the public is one of Yvonne’s first priorities and to get her new team embedded into the heart of the community and to talk to people face-to-face in their own localities on topics that matter to them.

“We’ve had a lot of staff changes in the last year and after lots of hard work we are now  fully staffed.  These great appointments  will be visible in the community and increase our attendance at venues such as community hubs, shopping centres and libraries. It’s really important that our team engages with as many people as possible, including those from diverse communities. Everyone’s voice and opinion is important to us and service providers and commissioners need to hear what is happening with health and social care in Gateshead and Newcastle. By hearing from those who are underserved, we can act as an advocate  to ensure  services continually improve and health inequalities are addressed,” said Yvonne.

Healthwatch Gateshead and Newcastle are looking to research the accessibility of the GP appointment systems and the time it takes to get to see a doctor or other medical practitioner. The  accessibility of services to people with autism is a particular concern for Yvonne and her team.

“We get a lot of comments about GP accessibility and we need to use our influence to help make health services as accessable as possible, but we can only do that by capturing the feedback and experiences of the people using these services.

“This is just one of my priorities in my new role as health and social care is a top concern for everyone and I feel very privileged to lead the team into the New Year with a focussed purpose and a willingness to get back into the community to make things better for everyone who uses health and social care services in Gateshead and Newcastle.”