COVID-19 update - 8 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
Today the drive-through swab testing centre for health and care staff opened in the IKEA car park in Gateshead. The centre has been established as part of the national DHSC testing programme.

Can I say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in getting this off the ground – no mean feat! Whilst this is a national programme, I know there has been unrelenting efforts across the patch to sort some of the logistics around this. I sent a message out last night about how the centre will work, which I hope was helpful; you can read it here.

Just a reminder that testing at the centre is by invitation only. It’s important that staff and the public do not turn up at the testing centre so please help share this message. There is a phased approach to the roll-out of testing at the centre and it is primarily aimed at health and care staff employed in primary care and social care settings. Staff employed by acute trusts have been advised to continue to use testing facilities provided by their own organisations.

Today we have publicly thanked schools, businesses and other organisations that have donated or supplied PPE. As you may remember we set up a central distribution hub and contact point for all donation and supplies as part of our efforts to boost supplies of PPE – alongside the national supply chain deliveries. Already we have received offers from more than 20 organisations through our central contact point alone, and many teachers across the region have turned their hand to making visors. I think we have all been moved by this response from our communities. You can read our release here.

Finally, the bank holiday is approaching. I know many of us will be working but I do hope you can get some downtime. Across all our organisations we will be taking the opportunity to remind people that our services are here if they need them and not to delay coming to us if they’re seriously ill; as well as reminding them to use services sensibly and to stay at home to save lives.

Thanks again to everyone for their support during these challenging times. As always, our thoughts continue to be with those affected by this, especially those that have lost loved ones.

Best wishes, Alan

Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System
Other news and guidance

Health Education England North East’s latest bulletin contains some really useful information. Their response is being co-ordinated by Professor Namita Kumar and all information and guidance to keep doctors and dentists up to date and informed can found here.

NHS England/Improvement statement on Coronavirus (Covid-19) on 8 April 2020
A further 828 people, who tested positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 6,483.
Patients were aged between 22 and 103 years old. 46 of the 828 patients (aged between 35 and 96 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 70
London 201
Midlands 171
North East & Yorkshire 101
North West 128
South East 120
South West 37

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.

Health and Wellbeing for NHS Staff
NHE England and NHS Improvement has issued this press notice around the NHS mental health hotline that will provide physiological support to NHS staff in need. The hotline is part of a package of measures to support the NHS staff as they help people deal with the coronavirus.

NHS staff will be able to call or text a free number (open between 7am and 11pm every day, while the text service will be 24/7) staffed by thousands of specially trained volunteers, to receive support and advice for the pressures they face every day during the global health emergency.

This accompanies a letter from Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director, calling all Mental Health Trusts to establish 24/7 urgent NHS mental health telephone support, advice and triage.

Volunteer Responders
NHS England and NHS Improvement is encouraging health and social care professionals to use NHS Volunteer Responders to refer people who are vulnerable and at risk for support in their communities. The patient referral form can be found here:

Campaign materials
Additional materials have been developed by PHE and are available on the Campaign Resource Centre. These include info on the Prime Minister’s ‘door drop’ letter to members of the public.

Additional publications