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Healthwatch Sunderland supports new amputee community group

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

The health and social care champion for the people of Sunderland has showcased the power of partnership work through the promotion of a support group for those who have had a surgical amputation.

It all started when Wendy Hadlington, Engagement Officer for Healthwatch Sunderland, was contacted by Pallion Action Group as they were keen to know if there were any support groups for amputees in the area. Following research, it was discovered there wasn’t any support groups available for amputees.

Being told you need to have a limb amputated can be a devastating, frightening and life changing experience. Common emotions and thoughts after amputation can include depression, anxiety, denial of needing physiotherapy or a need to make changes to daily routines, grief and feeling suicidal.

Some people may have had amputation as a result of trauma or injury, resulting in emergency amputation, leaving little to no time to process the effects of the surgery.

With no support groups for amputees available, Andrea Hayes decided to set up a group with support and a free room from Pallion Action Group. Experiencing amputation herself, Andrea knew the physical and emotional impacts amputation can have and invited people to attend who she had met from her time in hospital.

Wendy, Engagement Officer for Healthwatch Sunderland, said: “I was asked to go along to the initial support session to meet the amputee group, to inform them about Healthwatch services and offer them support through our Information and Signposting service. Here is when the group told me that they were looking for new members as they gain so much support from one another.

“I remembered a couple of weeks previous myself and my colleague Anna, were waiting in the Sunderland Royal Hospital for a meeting and noted that we had seen several people with amputations coming down from the wards to use the café or the shop.”

Healthwatch Sunderland took action and spoke to South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust to arrange a bimonthly partnership information stand at Sunderland Royal Hospital. Healthwatch Sunderland has now started to support Andrea by promoting their group and Healthwatch services, to reach and support people who may have not known the amputee group is available.

Andrea said: “I am so pleased I met Wendy that day at Pallion Action Group and the support that she and Healthwatch Sunderland have given me and the group has been invaluable. Not only have we been able to recruit new members, but the sessions at the hospital have allowed us to offer peer support to people who have had a recent amputation and more recently offer support to a lady who, for her, amputation is inevitable in the future.”

Tara Johnson, Project Lead of Healthwatch Sunderland, said: “The new support group for amputees created by Andrea is a true testament to the power of partnership working. I hope through the monthly information stands at Sunderland Royal Hospital we are able to connect with more people going through amputation who need support.”

The Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP) is proud to deliver Healthwatch to the people of Sunderland.

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