COVID-19 update - 3 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
Thank you to everyone for all your efforts this week. I know many people will be working over the weekend and this is much appreciated. For those that are not working, I hope you get some time to relax.

Apologies this bulletin is a bit late in the evening but we have been busy working on some new arrangements to support the new PPE guidance and wanted to share this with you below. This includes a new central point of contact for local businesses wishing to donate or supply PPE.

Today Professor Chris Gray has reminded local people that the NHS is here if they need it, and not to delay getting treatment if they are seriously ill. He has also shared how the new PPE guidance is very welcome and while we are receiving supplies all the time, the support from businesses is much appreciated. You can read the press release here. A fuller briefing on PPE is below.

Best wishes, Alan

Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System
Important information about PPE
The revised PPE guidance, issued yesterday, has been very much welcomed and provides an opportunity for us to reiterate some key information for organisations about the process in place for ordering equipment.

At the same time there are some key areas where we are working together across the integrated care system (ICS) to support each other to ensure that all our frontline teams are getting what they need, when they need it.

We have also been looking at opportunities where we can co-ordinate activities, where it is appropriate to do so, to ensure we support each other when requiring supplies of PPE. These are highlighted in this briefing.

The national PPE guidance provides further clarity on what our frontline teams should be wearing and when. This, combined with the gearing up of logistics around the national supply chain, will help to ensure we receive even more equipment. We anticipate this will be kicking-in over the next few days.

In the meantime, it is important that we continue to identify any immediate gaps not only in our acute organisations but across care homes, charities providing care services and primary care. We would welcome your support in sharing the below information across your networks. This explains some of the processes around ordering but other actions we need your support with. It also sets out plans to handle donations and supplies from local businesses.

This briefing relates to the four ICP areas across the North East and North Cumbria.

The new guidance
A reminder that the new PPE guidance can be found here. Please note that FFP3 masks should only be used as advised in the guidance. It is important these supplies are available for those staff that are involved in aerosol generating procedures.

Urgent orders for PPE
Any organisations that need emergency supplies of PPE can contact the national supply distribution response hotline – open 24/7 on 0800 915 9964. Day-to-day re-provision of stocks should be ordered in the normal way and organisations should have this information already.

Support from local businesses
We have had great support from businesses who are able to donate or supply PPE. We know many organisations have also been in contact with businesses in their local area. To co-ordinate and support distribution across the patch we have set up a central email and web page.

If you are approached by businesses please direct them to these. We will be reviewing our position again on Monday 6 April. The web page provides some additional information about the sorts of items we are looking for and that we would like bulk supplies. We will be appealing to businesses by promoting the web page and email.

Central distribution hubs
We will be establishing central distribution hubs where we will store PPE from local suppliers and donations. Initially this is at Riverside House, Newburn. We are co-ordinating transport support to get supplies out to local areas with local resilience forums (LRFs). There is the flexibility for either the kit to be dropped off direct, or for the kit to be collected by local staff.

Initially, all deliveries will be made to the hub. This arrangement will be reviewed on a regular basis and there are plans to open hubs in Teesside and Sunderland.