COVID-19 update - 25 March 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. This is a fast-moving and evolving situation. We will do our best to keep you updated daily with the latest information and key decisions from the Strategic Health Command 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
The support we are all receiving from our local communities and businesses is fantastic - we can’t thank them enough. I think we have all been touched by the many words and images of support we have seen.

You will have heard the national plea for more volunteers to come forward and help the NHS in the battle to fight Coronavirus. Our volunteers play such a valuable role across our communities but we will need more people to help us. I know organisations are stepping up their own efforts to recruit volunteers (where it is safe for the public to do so) to support their hospitals as well as in the wider community.

The single most important action our communities can take in fighting coronavirus is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. Public Health England has created new resources to promote this message, please use and share these. Every Mind Matters has now released expert advice and top tips on how to look after your mental wellbeing if you need to stay at home. Please visit here to access this advice.

Tomorrow night at 8pm (Thursday 26 March) there is a call to ‘clap for our carers’ to show appreciation to health and care staff for their ongoing hard work as they treat people with Coronavirus. People are being encouraged to clap from their gardens, front doors, and balconies to show their support. I am sure we will all try and join this if we can, please help spread the word #clapforourcarers #StayHomeSaveLives

Work is ongoing nationally to build on partnerships with independent hospitals to increase capacity and this is also something we are looking at locally. You can read the recent letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement about a national agreement which has been reached.

There’s more news and guidance below. Thank you for your continued support.

Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System
Guidance and other news information

Doctors and dentists in training: There is some really helpful information in the latest bulletin from Health Education England North East. Their response is being co-ordinated by Professor Namita Kumar and all information can found here.

A social media campaign #thankyouNHS has been launched to encourage people to share the ways in which they are thanking the NHS. Join the conversation online to help further show our staff how much we appreciate their efforts during this difficult time.

In the news: Across the region we are doing what we can to raise awareness with the public about how they can help us and stay safe, as well as what we are doing to be prepared for the increased numbers of patients who will need care. Dr Craig Melrose’s message to local people to ‘help Cumbria NHS help you’ has been featured across the media. Craig is GP clinical lead urgent & emergency care at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust:

Vulnerable groups: Throughout the week, people identified from their medical records as being at highest risk (and who need to strictly follow this guidance) will receive a letter from their GP or hospital team with advice and information about what to do during this time and how to access support. People in this group are asked to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks, as set out in this PHE guidance. Text messages will also be sent out during the week, reiterating the advice and signposting to sources of support. If someone feels they are within the cohort, but has not received a letter by 30 March, they are being asked to contact their GP or hospital team. There is also work underway to communicate with and support people in a wider vulnerable cohort but this is not the target group for these immediate communications.

Primary care bulletin: The primary care bulletin has transformed into a regular COVID-19 primary care bulletin. Please encourage dentistry, optometry, general practice (including PCNs), CCG and community pharmacy colleagues to sign up here. These will also be published online here.

General PPE guidance: A reminder that PPE guidance including videos on donning and doffing can be found here.

Additional publications

Further to the items above, the following items have been published today: