COVID-19 update - 13 August 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
From this week we are asking the public to #doyourbit to protect the NHS by not just turning up to A&E and to think pharmacy, GP and 111 first.

The message is the first part of our new ‘do your bit’ campaigns, which in this case is aimed at raising awareness of the first routes people should take for urgent medical advice and treatment.

In light of COVID-19, and with winter ahead, it is more important than ever that we don’t have large volumes of people in our surgeries, clinics and hospitals when they could have been cared for elsewhere.

The campaign is supporting a pilot scheme which started this month in the North Integrated Partnership (ICP) area (which covers Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland) and the plan is to roll out this approach and the campaign across the ICS starting September 2020.

By thinking of alternative services such as pharmacist, GP and 111 first, people can do their bit to help stop the spread of COVID-19, keep people safe and keep A&E free for serious emergencies. At the same time, this also means they will get the right treatment in a timely manner, in the most appropriate place for them too.

Those that do turn up to either an A&E department or an urgent treatment centre, will be assessed clinically by a member of our team and if suitable, will be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs. Advice will be provided based on individual issues and solutions will range from self-care through to an appointment with a GP, or being directed to go to a pharmacist or urgent treatment centre.

Thank you to everyone involved in getting this off the ground. You can read more on this here.

Our #doyourbit campaigns will be running before and during the winter and will be asking people to do their bit to protect themselves, each other and the NHS. A major part of this will be to encourage people to have their flu vaccination which as you know will be a key priority for us all in the coming months. More information will be shared in the coming weeks.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced last week that they will be emailing community pharmacies, inviting them to register with the national PPE portal. It is also expected that dental and optometry services will be able to access the PPE portal in the future. This will be a phased approach over the coming weeks but please do share this information with teams so they are aware of what to do. For more information on what PPE items are available and how to order, please see here.

Public Health England has issued new guidance for reporting on deaths in people with COVID-19. As you may have seen, there has been lots in the press following the review of how data is reported and how the number of deaths have been subsequently adjusted. See here for more information on what these changes mean and how the new data compares to previous COVID-19 death data series.

As we know, the pandemic has led to a huge increase in telephone and online appointments and consultations. In the letter we shared with you last week about phase three priorities for the NHS there is a clear push to continue to offer patients these alternatives. Healthwatch has produced useful guidance on how we can support patients in this way, which you can read here.

Cumbria County Council has published its weekly COVID-19 update. This week’s report shows a small decrease in the number of cases in the county. This is thanks to a phenomenal effort in terms of local contact tracing and great support from the community who came forward to be tested.

Today is A-level results day, which I know can be a very anxious time for young people and their parents, especially in the current climate. There are lots of great careers in health and care and we will be continuing to do all we can to promote our region as a great place to work to people whatever their backgrounds and qualifications.

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

News and updates

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.

NHS Test and Trace: Latest NHS test and trace stats for England are now available and from today are available at UTLA level.

Regional excess death reports: Regional excess death reports are now published with data available by age, sex, Upper Tier Local Authority, ethnic group, level of deprivation, cause of death and place of death.