COVID-19 update - 27 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
ICS Partnership event
This week colleagues across health and care connected at our ‘virtual’ ICS partnership event on Tuesday.

Thank you to everyone who attended, presented and helped to get this organised. It’s always a relief when the technology works! We will be getting back to everyone with answers to all of the questions raised which we didn’t get time to cover at the event.

I’m sorry I couldn’t make it in person but I hope people managed to watch my update and hear messages of thanks and my reflections of the months gone by.

Our resilience and collaborative ways of working were severely tested by the pandemic but we have achieved a huge amount and have a stronger platform from which to work for the future. I do believe we were able to deliver our main priority which is to put our communities first and this remains very much at the heart of our continued efforts to restore and restart services. Our ability to work together remains a key strength for us as we move forward through the coming months.

As we know, COVID-19 exposed many of the inequalities that exist in society, communities and our workplaces. At the event Yvonne Ormston, chief executive of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, shared her own personal perspective on why addressing these issues is vital. Along with director of workforce transformation Lisa Crichton-Jones, they shared information about how we are working with BAME networks to develop a collective promise to better support people from these communities.

Dr Neil O’Brien, accountable officer for South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), shared some great examples of how our services have adapted during the pandemic and the need to harness these as we move forward, as well as addressing the challenge ahead of us to vaccinate more people than ever this winter to protect them from flu.

We have had immense support from the public, who have embraced these changes and accessed services in new ways. It is vitally important that we continue to reassure the public that it is safe to use our services moving forward so we can continue to count on their support as we head into winter.

Jane Hartley, health and wellbeing associate at VONNE and north east regional social prescribing facilitator, also shared her unparalleled knowledge of our voluntary sector and made the vital point of how this is a once in a generation opportunity to work together and overcome the barriers that have stopped us doing this in the past.

Workforce transformation
This week our Workforce Transformation Board met for the first time since January to regroup and refocus in light of the pandemic and publication of the People Plan. The board will be sharing more information in the coming weeks but it was agreed to refresh its programme to four key priorities aligned to the Plan which are:
  • Supply
  • Health, wellbeing, equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Workforce redesign
  • System development/leadership
It was agreed that the Board will move to a smaller Executive ICS Workforce Board, focusing on supporting and delivering the workforce agenda through our four ICPs, each of which will now establish ICP level workforce groups. To support the Board, we will also establish a stakeholder engagement forum where wider system partners will convene to influence, shape and contribute to Board business and help inform formal decision making.

With this in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to say a personal thank you to Lisa Crichton-Jones for all she has done to lead the ICS workforce transformation programme and more recently for all her unrelenting support during the pandemic as part of the NEY workforce cell. As many will be aware Lisa is taking up the role executive director of people and organisational development at Gateshead Health on 1 October. I know I speak for everyone in wishing Lisa every success in her new role and that she will continue to play a key role in our system.

This week the workforce cell for north east and Yorkshire provided a valuable update on their work across the region, which includes important information on health and wellbeing. You can read that, and the rest of their update here.

Bank holiday
Ahead of the bank holiday this weekend, 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.

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 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.

Reintroduction of NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC): New guidance has been published to support the reintroduction of NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Local Authorities from 1 September 2020.

Updated PPE guidance when administering flu vaccines: Health and care staff will not be required to wear single-use gloves or aprons when administering flu vaccinations in 2020/2021, according to updated government guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE).