COVID-19 ICS update - 5 November 2020

This bulletin provides important information for people working in health and care across the North East and North Cumbria regarding guidance and actions being co-ordinated across our region to care for patients, staff and our communities in the light of COVID-19. We will do our best to keep you updated with the latest information and key decisions from the Health Co-ordinating Group. This group is led by Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System. If you have any questions or would like us to send vital information to partners through this bulletin, please contact us here.
Message from Alan Foster
Alan Foster
As you will be aware, the NHS has returned to the highest level of risk on our emergency preparedness framework - EPPR level 4 – a reflection of the seriousness of the current situation across the country.

Although there are some signs that rates of coronavirus in the community have been levelling off in our region, admissions to our hospitals are increasing. We all hope that the new national restrictions - which started today – and the continued support of the public will make an impact and bring rates of infection down so we can protect communities, as well as health and care services.

You’ll be aware that earlier this week South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust paused non-urgent adult inpatient operations, affecting 17 patients, in order to safely increase isolated ward areas providing care to patients with COVID-19. These have now been rescheduled and although it was a small number of patients it can very upsetting to have dates of treatments changed so it is never a decision which is taken lightly.

I know we will all be doing what we can to deliver as much routine care and treatment as possible in the weeks ahead, and where it is safe to do so. As ever it will be a difficult balance. This is something that our clinical lead, Professor Chris Gray, and medical director for North Tees Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Deepak Dwarakanath talked about earlier this week when they were interviewed for the BBC Look North. Both reassured the public that we are well prepared for what lies ahead, although they recognised the coming weeks would not be without challenges. They asked the public to keep doing their bit and turn up to appointments. You can view the interviews here.

Our colleagues in the police force have also reiterated the importance of continuing to 'do our bit' as we enter a second national lockdown. You can read the message from Assistant Chief Constable Neil Hutchison here.

Our staff are not immune to the virus so a significant challenge for us all will be managing staff sickness and any potential impact this may have on our ability to run services in the weeks ahead. At the same time it has also been unrelenting for our staff and they will need our continued support in the weeks ahead.

I would like to remind everyone that our colleagues at CNTW are offering psychological wellbeing support to staff across the whole North East and Cumbria health and care system. This is a confidential support line and it is also available to education, police, fire and prison service staff. For information on how to access the helpline, see here.

As I have mentioned before, our ability to work together is a key strength for us all and this will continue to be the case as we move forward through the coming months. It’s important that we continue to look out for each other.

It was lovely to see a special service of thanks for some of our staff working in health and care across Cumbria at Carlisle Cathedral last Sunday (November 1). The service included poems and music from NHS and care staff, and chaplains from a range of faiths at NHS Trust across the county. You can view the service here and read more here.

Keep going and thank you.

Best wishes,


Alan Foster is the executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System

News and updates

The R number in the UK: The latest reproduction number (R) and growth rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK can be found here on GOV.UK.

Public Health England dashboard: The Public Health England (PHE) dashboard can be found here. Daily reporting includes deaths that have occurred in all settings where there has been a positive COVID-19 test, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community. The report also includes case rates per 100,000 resident population at lower-tier local authority level.

National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports: A link to the weekly national flu and COVID-19 report, monitoring COVID-19 activity, seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses can be found here.

New guidance to support safe care home visits during lockdown: Care homes will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities as new national restrictions come into effect. Read more here.

Clinically extremely vulnerable receive updated guidance in line with new national restrictions: Further precautions advised on top of the tougher national measures being introduced, as cases continue to rise. Read more here.

North East and North Cumbria Accelerator Schools project: This week the evaluation report for the Children and Young People Accelerator Site Phase 2 Project has been published and can be read here. The Accelerator Schools project considers how communities in the North East and North Cumbria have built awareness of the needs and positive solutions to support children and young people with autism and special educational needs and disability (SEND).

2021 Social Prescribing Network Awards: The Social Prescribing Network Awards recognise and celebrate the wealth of innovative social prescribing projects and schemes running throughout the UK. Entries are now open for this year’s awards and you have until Monday 25 January to enter. The awards will be presented on 4th and 5th March 2021. Read here for more information.

VONNE’s 2020 AGM+: VONNE's annual conference and AGM is unable to go ahead this year in its usual face to face format, so this will be a virtual event on November 19th. For more information, visit here.