All Aboard the Melissa Bus

Posted by: Press team on 02 March 2020 14:05

Health experts invited South Tyneside residents to get on board with shaping local health services last week.

The double-decker 'Melissa Bus' travelled around the Borough, stopping off at various locations in Hebburn, Boldon, Jarrow and South Shields to speak to local people who live with or know someone with a long-term health condition.

Residents were asked to share their views on how education and rehab programmes could be improved to help support sufferers of long-term conditions such as COPD, heart problems or diabetes. 

Councillor Tracey Dixon, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Independence and Wellbeing, said: "Ensuring that people with long-term health conditions have the best possible support available to help manage their own health and wellbeing is a key priority.   

"Local people's views and feedback are really important in helping to shape services to be the best they can be, and the MELISSA programme was a great way for residents to share their opinions.

"There were a number of stop-offs around the different parts of the borough which meant people from all different areas had the opportunity to pop in and have their say."

The project was led by South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - the organisation that plans and buys most NHS healthcare services locally - working with South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr David Julien, the CCG's Executive Clinical Director, said: "NHS rehabilitation and education programmes can make a big difference in people's lives, reducing risk and improving both lifestyles and health.

"We want the best possible range of support, provided in a way that is proactive, personal and fair - and to ensure it is easy for people to take part. We learn a lot from listening to local people, so we've got out and about around the borough hearing from as many people as we could."

Simon Beacham, Mobile Education Unit Manager for the MELISSA Project, added: "The MELISSA programme is pleased to be part of and support the Improving Long Term Conditions Care in South Tyneside Project.

"Visiting the locations in the area last week has had a fantastic impact on supporting sufferers and those that are susceptible to long-term conditions in South Shields and is part of MELISSA's project brief in improving patient outcomes."

The council will also be supporting the 'Every Breath' campaign, which will be launched this week by Fresh North East to increase awareness that smoking causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a long-term health condition which is the UK's fifth biggest killer.

Cllr Tracey Dixon said: "There are over 80,000 people living with diagnosed COPD in the North East with deaths from COPD in South Tyneside among the highest in the country.

"As part of this campaign, we are calling on all smokers to quit for good for the sake of their health and wellbeing. For further information and help to quit call 0191 424 7300 or visit"

Last modified: 30 March 2022 14:06