COVID-19 ICS update - 11 February 2021

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
White paper - Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all
As you know, we have a strong history of working together across the North East and North Cumbria. It’s this collaborative approach, and the unwavering support of our front-line teams, which has enabled us to deal with so many aspects of the pandemic, and will continue to do so as we move to recovery.

Today’s White Paper is welcome. It will support us to evolve this collaborative way of working on a statutory footing, so that we can drive forward our ambitions to provide the very best joined-up care for our communities - helping them to live healthier and healthier lives, and reduce the inequalities that exist. You can read the statement we issued today here.

As you will be aware the paper sets out establishing Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in law and includes a new duty to collaborate across health, public health and social care systems; underpinned by the inclusion of local authorities on the boards of integrated care systems.

We will continue to work closely with all our partners across the NHS, local authorities, voluntary sector and others to determine the best way of taking this forward for our communities. More detail will follow but it is likely the next steps will include establishing an ICS NHS Board and ICS Health and Care Partnership.

We’ve already made some steps, as you know, towards formalising future ways of working with the appointment of our chair Professor Sir Liam Donaldson which we confirmed in December. Our providers (such as ambulance, hospital/community and mental health trusts) are continuing to look at how they can work across larger geographic footprints to sustain high quality care, share expertise and tackle unequal access to services. And through these bulletins I have shared many stories of the achievements and improvements we have made together, as a system.

As we move forward our priority will be to support our staff. It’s been an unrelenting and challenging time for them so it will be vital we minimise uncertainty and help them through our recovery and the next phase in our journey to work together.

We are continuing to see a decline in the number of community cases and hospital admissions which is reassuring and much needed positive news – although our intensive care units remain very busy. We are all aware that it remains really hard for our teams who continue to work tirelessly through this long winter. I know employers are doing all they can to support staff and also to recognise their phenomenal efforts. Please remember to share with all your teams information about our regional staff hub which is there to support people working in health and care – no matter where they work or what their role. You can find out more here.

Covid-19 vaccination programme
Our Covid-19 vaccination programme is an excellent example of collaboration in action and figures this week show we have now delivered over 620,000 vaccines. Well done everyone.

There’s been great co-operation between CCGs, hospital hubs and primary care networks to ensure mutual aid and availability of the vaccine is evened-out across the region. Thank you everyone.

We are expecting an announcement soon on a go-live for the next cohort of people eligible for the vaccine, which is the over 65s. And this week there was another big push to encourage those over 70 who have yet to take up the offer, to come forward and book their vaccination.

We are now starting to look at potential future models for the delivery of vaccine as we prepare for this to become an annual programme, and as we broaden the offer to more people. We will keep you informed as these discussions develop and it will be important that all partners are involved in this as we move forward.

There’s been lots in the news about the effectiveness of the vaccines against new strains of the virus. We have been sharing national messages about this to reassure our communities across all our channels. At the same time, we continue to remind people who have had their vaccine to stick to the rules and remember hands, face and space.

This is a fast moving programme and Strategic Vaccination Operating Centre (SVOC) are continuing to run their engagement sessions to keep people up to date. This includes sessions for those working in primary care. If you are not aware of the date of these, then please contact

In the meantime, a big thank-you from me to everyone for this phenomenal effort.

A&E performance
The latest A&E performance results for January have been published by NHS England and you can view them here. If you take out specialised trusts, three trusts in our region are on the top ten for performance (seeing patients within four hours ) with Northumbria Healthcare in first position at 94.2%, South Tyneside and Sunderland (87.9%) and Newcastle Hospitals (87.2%). Given the significant challenges this is quite an achievement and a tribute to our teams. On a national level, 78.5% of patients were seen within 4 hours.

Thank you to everyone for all your efforts and please do stay safe.

Best wishes,


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

Other 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.