COVID-19 update - 31 July 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. We will do our best to keep you updated with the latest information and key decisions from the Strategic Health Co-ordinating 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
Our people
Today sees the launch of the People Plan and within it an NHS People Promise which challenges us all to make the NHS a better place to work. This is most welcome and whilst it may be seen as an ‘NHS’ plan its core messages are important for our whole system, and for each and every member of staff working across the North East and North Cumbria.

It goes without saying that people are at the heart of everything we do and the efforts of our staff over the past few months has been extraordinary. I am sure you will want to join in me in taking this opportunity to recognise all they have done, and to say a huge thank you.

The People Plan focuses on looking after our staff, both physically and psychologically, and creating an organisational culture where everyone feels they belong. Alongside this, it emphasises the need to continue with, and develop, new ways of working so we can deliver the very best care. And finally, it highlights the importance of growing and retaining our workforce.

I’m sure these areas resonate with you all and we are pleased to have already started some areas of joint working across health and care. We will continue to build on this, as a system, as we deliver and implement the plan over the coming months.

The People Plan focuses on work through to March 2021 and we have been asked to set out our response. As you know our ICS workforce programme has been running for more than 18 months and this stands us in good stead for the future with many of the key areas of the People Plan reflected in our plans too.

It’s an important read so please do take the time to have a look. I know our workforce lead, Lisa Crichton-Jones, is keen for everyone to share the plan with their own teams and think about the difference we can all make, especially with regards to inclusivity and compassion.

As part of our work on inclusivity, I was pleased to lead discussions at our Health Management Group last Friday with regards to the development of a collective promise for our BAME staff and I am pleased to see this work move into its next phase. I look forward to sharing more on that with you shortly.

Recovery co-ordinating groups
As we cautiously head out of the most acute phase of the pandemic, we are now working closely with our local government and wider public sector colleagues through local resilience forums (LRFs) on what recovery might look like in the North East and North Cumbria.

The LRFs in our region have now established multi-agency recovery co-ordinating groups (RCGs) with a focus on economic recovery, community safety, transport and public service resilience. RCGs have been established in Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne & Wear, Cleveland and Darlington, and Cumbria.

We have been invited to participate in each of these RCGs in recognition of the part that health and care can play not just in terms of restoring public services, but also through our role as major employers and local procurers of goods and services, exploring what more we can contribute to the local economy whilst tackling health inequalities.

Our healthcare providers, especially foundation trusts, recognise their role as anchor organisations, and they are already looking at what more they can do to target their spending power and recruitment initiatives in the communities they serve.

Working together with our partners on this agenda will allow us to co-ordinate the safe restoration of public services, as well as playing our part in economic recovery.

As I mentioned in last week’s update, flu vaccinations will be more important than ever this year, as we all seek to protect patients and staff, reduce the number of people who need treatment this winter, and as we continue to re-set services that have been disrupted by the pandemic. Last Friday, the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in the UK’s history was announced by the government, which you can read in more detail here. Significant new groups will now be eligible for the free flu vaccine and includes people aged 50 to 64, households of those on the shielded patient list, while the school programme has also been expanded to the first year of secondary schools for the first time.

A huge amount of planning is now underway to address the complex logistics of delivering the vaccination programme in light of the increased numbers and social distancing. It’s a huge challenge which we will need to rise to. We will keep you updated on plans and are expecting more guidance soon.

Changes to shielding
This weekend will mark a significant change for those that have been shielding as the Government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. We will be taking the opportunity to remind the public to do their bit to protect others by following social distancing and handwashing measures.

It has been great to see pictures and messages across social media welcoming our new doctors in training throughout the region this week. The Find Your Place website has a new dedicated welcome page for our newest medical trainees so please do check it out.

Keep up the great work everyone. I hope you get some time to relax with friends and family over the weekend.

Best wishes,

Alan Foster is executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System

News and updates

Health and care workers to self-isolate on return to UK from high risk countries
From 31 July, registered health and care professionals travelling to the UK from high risk countries will lawfully be required to self-isolate for 14 days. They will no longer be exempt. The move will bring health and care professionals in line with the general public and further protects the NHS and social care system from the spread of coronavirus from overseas.

The current list of countries exempt from self-isolation measures is available here. The data for all countries and territories is kept under constant review, and the exemptions list is updated with any changes on a regular basis as and when required to reflect the shifting international health picture.

Health and care professionals returning from a country which has a travel corridor to the UK will not be required to self-isolate on return. Information on air corridors can be found here.

Improving health
Public Health England has launched the Better Health campaign to support people to live healthier lives and reduce their risk of serious illness, including COVID-19. We have been supporting this campaign on our social media pages and more information can be found here.

The R number in the UK: The latest reproduction number (R) and growth rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK can be found here on GOV.UK

Public Health England dashboard: The Public Health England (PHE) dashboard can be found here. Daily reporting includes deaths that have occurred in all settings where there has been a positive COVID-19 test, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community. The report also includes case rates per 100,000 resident population at lower-tier local authority level.

Other information and guidance

  • The UK Chief Medical Officers today announced that the self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or a positive test result
  • DHSC today announced the new NHS Test and Trace Business Plan which details how the service will be expanded over coming months
  • NHS Test and Trace announces launch of campaign to encourage everyone with symptoms to get a free test
  • A £20 million new funding to help smaller businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been announced today