COVID-19 update - 22 May 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
A drive-through coronavirus testing facility is to open at Newcastle Great Park & Ride, as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing, and the IKEA facility will close. Due to the strong winds today and forecast for the weekend, exact timings are still to be confirmed.

This resource will play a vital part in allowing us as a region to manage testing and support for our health and care workers, working with our partners to prioritise and target all available resources most effectively. This is a good opportunity to thank and recognise the hard work of people working across the health and care sector and acknowledge the significant challenges they have faced throughout this pandemic. The swift mobilisation of this resource is very welcome.

Our North East and North Cumbria Strategic COVID-19 Testing Group meet twice a week to review recent guidance and agree how testing will be delivered across the NHS and National Testing sites. It has membership from NHS Foundation Trusts, CCGs, Local Authority Directors of Public Health and Directors of Adult Social Services, Public Health England, NHSEI, North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) and the Ministry of Defence.

Please note that essential workers from health and social care including staff who work or volunteer for independent and voluntary sector organisations who live in the North-East are able to book an appointment and receive a test via a local NHS lab where possible using the NECS online booking system. Use of the NECS single point of contact approach will allow our region to more effectively manage testing and support for health and care workers.

Online booking requests can be made by either the employee or line managers for individuals who need testing immediately following reporting self-isolation due to symptoms themselves or a member of their household. This can be done at any time of day. Simply click the link to commence the process.

NHS Trust staff can support us by continuing to access testing through their own organisation. The process for frontline testing at NHS trusts is now well established and we need all employees to continue following it so we can process the tests as quickly and efficiently as possible, without putting pressure on the national system aimed at other key care workers.

The latest highlight report from the NENC Strategic COVID-19 Testing Group can be viewed here. The guidance on eligibility can be found here.

There was huge support for our health, care and other key workers once again last night during #ClapForCarers – and it was great to see some of #OurNHSPeople and residents in Northumberland showing support for key workers in the Daily Mirror.

As we head into the second May bank holiday, we are reminding the public that many services will remain open and we have been sharing information about this on social media. More information on bank holiday arrangements for primary care and access to urgent dental care can be found here.

Newcastle Hospitals has today been selected as one of five NHS trusts in England to host a new Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC) for late phase commercial clinical research, meaning patients across the North East and North Cumbria will benefit from easier access to clinical research opportunities.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this will increase opportunities for patients across the region to access trials assessing the latest potential treatments against COVID-19. You can read more about this here.

Our colleagues at CNTW are offering psychological wellbeing support to staff across the whole North East and Cumbria health and care system. This confidential support line has been set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help health and care employees across the region to cope. For information on how to access the helpline, see here.

The Northern Cancer Alliance has produced this film to reassure the public that they remain committed to working with our regional health and care system to ensure our patients continue to have access to the best cancer treatment and care at this time.

For those who are working over the weekend, I would like to thank you for your hard work and let you know that your efforts continue to be much appreciated. For those of you who are not working, I hope you get some time to relax.

Keep up the great work everyone.

Best wishes,


Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System
NHS England/Improvement statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19) on 22 May 2020
A further 121 people, who tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 25,387.

Patients were aged between 41 and 98 years old. Three of the 121 patients (aged between 50 and 91) 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 25
London 16
Midlands 27
North East & Yorkshire 12
North West 23
South East 15
South West 3

NHS England and NHS Improvement publish the number of patients who have died in hospital and tested positive for COVID-19 in England. Since Tuesday 28 April, NHS England and NHS Improvement also reports the number of patient deaths where there has been no COVID-19 positive test result, but where COVID-19 is documented as a direct or underlying cause of death on part 1 or part 2 of the death certification process. This change has been introduced for deaths that occurred on 24 April and subsequently.

This means the NHS England and NHS Improvement data collection provides information on all COVID related (suspected and confirmed) deaths in England hospitals.

Today, 19 deaths are reported with no positive COVID-19 test result.

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