COVID-19 update - 27 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 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
Across the region many of us are now planning how we gradually start to re-open access to care for our patients - some of which was stepped down as we geared up to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

I hesitate to say getting back to ‘business as usual’ as that’s not really the case given that COVID-19 will be around in society for some time. Of course, we are also acutely aware of the possibility of a second wave and the continued importance of social distancing and infection control measures including good hand hygiene.

It’s a complex picture but we know that by working together this is something we will manage with the same commitment and stoicism you have shown over the past two months. As ever, we will have the safety and health of our communities at the heart of our decisions.

With all of this in mind, we have decided that the time is now right to publish this bulletin three times a week rather than every day.

We have already started to communicate with the public about the importance of seeking help from the NHS should they need it. We have seen a significant decrease in the number of people presenting with stroke and transient ischaemic attacks (mini strokes). The number of people being referred for suspected cancer is also significantly down with GPs reporting that fewer people are coming to them for advice. There has also been a large reduction in patients with chest pain seeking urgent medical advice and as a result, hospitals are performing fewer diagnostic and treatment interventions.

We want to reassure people that they shouldn’t be deterred because they are worried that they are putting additional pressures on the NHS or that they will catch the virus. We also know that early diagnosis and treatment of warning symptoms can reduce the risk of recurrence and even death, so it is really important people access care if they need it.

Last week NHS England/Improvement launched a nationwide campaign and from our region these important messages were shared by chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Sir James Mackey on Newsnight on Friday evening.

Today Tyne Tees have interviewed GP from South Tyneside, Jim Gordon, and consultant paediatrician Stephen Bruce from Northumbria Healthcare to share this important message to the public. We have also issued this press release and are sharing these two animations widely across social media:
Your support to continue to share these messages, as you have been doing, is much appreciated.

Tomorrow as part of a nationwide tribute to NHS and care staff who have lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic there will be a one minute silence at 11am. I am sure you will join in me in paying our respects to the friends and colleagues we have lost over the last two months due to the virus. Our thoughts are very much with their loved-ones.

As ever thank you for all that you do. I’ll be back in touch on Wednesday.

Best wishes, Alan

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

NHS England/Improvement statement on Coronavirus (Covid-19) on 27 April 2020
A further 329 people, who tested positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 18,749.

Patients were aged between 29 and 100 years old. 22 of the 329 patients (aged between 29 and 89 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 34
London 87
Midlands 55
North East & Yorkshire 55
North West 41
South East 38
South West 19

Additional data, including listings by Trust and date of death is available on the NHS England website and can be accessed here.