COVID-19 ICS update - 8 October 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 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
These continue to be challenging times for us all and our hospitals are now starting to feel the impact of the significant rise in COVID-19 cases across our local communities. We are well prepared for this and the current numbers are well below what we experienced at the height of wave one.

The big challenge for us all now is how we manage the continued uncertainties of COVID-19 as we head into the pressures of winter and continue to recover our elective programmes of planned care in the months ahead.

Our clinical lead Chris Gray spoke to BBC Look North tonight about this and to reassure the public about the plans we have in place and that it is safe for people to attend if they need treatment.

You will be aware of national media coverage and issue surrounding the supply of testing consumables for those organisations that are contracted with Roche. This is being handled nationally in conjunction with local pathology networks. We are of course keeping a close eye on this situation and we will continue to work together across the region to support each other if required.

A few weeks ago we shared with you news that a new multi-million pound regional Lighthouse Laboratory and COVID hub was announced by Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle City Council.

The hub is the first of its kind in England and on 5 October recruitment started for around 1000 laboratory support workers to help find new ways to treat the virus.

The hub will serve the North East, north Cumbria, Yorkshire and Humber and deliver high-volume, rapid turnaround of COVID-19 tests.

More information on all job opportunities in the new hub is available at

As we all know, looking after our health and wellbeing is a key priority for us all at the minute as we continue to work through these incredibly challenging times. I am happy to share that a new NHS HowFit (Home Wellbeing and Fitness) Plan has been launched across Gateshead, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

HowFit encourages users of any ability, from chair based to fairly fit, to undertake a plan of simple exercises that can be carried out at home without the need for any special equipment.

The programme has been created by local consultant physician, Dr Steve Parry, in partnership with NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG. A HowFit instructional leaflet will be delivered to over 317,000 households inviting people to undertake the free home fitness plan which is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.

More information can be found on the HowFit website at

Stay safe and thank you for all that you are continuing to do to protect our communities and staff during these challenging times.

Alan Foster is the 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.

Cancer quality of life survey: Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement are leading the way in cancer care by recognising that quality of life (QoL) outcomes are as important to patients as survival.

The nationwide launch of a QoL survey took place in September 2020. Initially people who have been diagnosed with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer will be surveyed. People with all other cancer types will be included from 2021 onwards. People will be a sent a survey 18 months after their diagnosis to assess their QoL. The information collected from the survey will be used to work out how best to support the growing number of people living with and beyond cancer. This is an ambitious programme with a scale and depth that isn’t being matched anywhere else in the world.

For further information please visit the Quality of Life Survey website.