COVID-19 update - 7 April 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
Drive through swab testing centre

A drive through testing centre for health and care staff will go-live in the Ikea car park in Gateshead from 1pm tomorrow, Wednesday 8 April 2020.

Testing is by invitation only. It’s important that staff and the public do not turn up at the testing centre.

The centre is being established as part of the national DHSC testing programme.

Initially the centre will undertake 50 tests a day which will expand to 300 a day. Clearly the centre can’t test everyone at once so there is a phased approach to the roll out to staff across the region. The centre is primarily aimed at health and care staff employed in primary care and social care settings. Initially staff will be identified by their employer and then contacted by phone by one of our administrative team which is being managed by NECs.

Thank you to all our teams for working so hard over the last few days to support this programme. We welcome this facility which will increase staff testing capability across the patch and is in addition to the work already happening in our hospital labs. Importantly this will enable wider groups of staff to access testing and return to work quicker if their test proves negative, as well as offering reassurance.

Our main focus has been on working across all our organisations to establish a governance and administrative system to ensure that the right people get access to the testing in a timely manner.

Things are moving at pace and more information around governance and process will be shared shortly. We will be learning and testing processes in these early stages before this is scaled-up further.

Who will be invited to attend?

At this stage, staff will be identified by their employer and their details will be sent to the team managed by NECS.

This will be staff who are absent from work and self-isolating due to having symptoms of coronavirus or because a member of the household is symptomatic. It is the person who has symptoms that is offered a test. That household member, if aged over 18 years of age, will also be offered a swab.

Staff will receive a call from a member of NECS team to confirm eligibility and make sure that they are able to attend in a household car. People cannot travel via taxi or public transport. In the longer term this will move to a digital platform as soon as it is available.

Testing at the centre is primarily aimed at health and care staff employed in primary care and social care settings.

Locally we will start to roll out to staff from Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust from Wednesday to Friday this week. And we would like to thank them for agreeing to be involved at this early stage.

The invitation will then be rolled out to health and social care staff across the North Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) footprint which is Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Once the process is established we can then quickly expand to cover the rest of the patch.

How will staff be invited?

Staff identified will receive a call from a member of the NECS team and will be talked through the process.

Working with NECS we will identify and book staff and family members into one-hour slots. A list of staff attending will be sent to the centre by 12pm on the previous day.

When will staff get the results?

Staff will receive the results within 48 to 72 hours. They will be asked to inform their employer of their results.

Results are sent back via text message so it is really important that the mobile number information is correct and that staff understand that they have a key role to play in communicating this information back to their employer. Their employer will then advise on the next steps.

Swabs will be sent to a new testing lab in Milton Keynes. The results will be available in 48-72 hours, and will reduce to 24-48 hours going forward.

When will the centre be open?

The centre will operate between 10am and 5pm daily for an indefinite period – including the Easter weekend and bank holidays. The location was chosen as it is no more than a 90-minute drive for the majority of staff.

Thanks again to everyone involved.

Best wishes, Alan

Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System
NHS England/Improvement statement on Coronavirus (Covid-19) on 7 April 2020

A further 758 people, who tested positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 5,655.
Patients were aged between 23 and 102 years old. 29 of the 758 patients (aged between 23 and 99 years old) had no known underlying health condition.
Their families have been informed.

The number of deaths of patients with Covid-19 by region are as follows:

East of England 101
London 224
Midlands 142
North East & Yorkshire 88
North West 90
South East 77
South West 36

Additional data, including listings by NHS trust and date of death is available on the NHS England website and can be accessed by following this link.