COVID-19 ICS update - 15 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
As I’m sure you’re all aware, the government this week introduced a three-tiered system of local COVID alert levels in England to help control the spread of the virus.

For the time being, our region has been placed on ‘high’ alert (level 2) however we have to remain aware that this can change at any time. You can find out more about what restrictions are in place in high alert areas here.

This continues to be a tough time for everyone and thank you to everyone for all that you are doing to balance the many challenges we are facing.

I mentioned in last week’s update that services are starting to feel the impact of the rise in Covid-19 cases and this has continued to be the case. We are prepared for this and currently the numbers of patients are below what we experienced at the height of wave one, plus we now have additional treatments to offer patients.

Earlier this week you will be aware Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, announced that Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate should prepare to mobilise over the next few weeks. While we have been asked to prepare for the next phase, we still hope that we won’t have to use any beds at all in the Nightingale in the North East. If we do, it will be based on local clinical advice and expertise, in each patient’s best interests.

Next week our ‘think pharmacy, GP and 111 first’ campaign will be rolled out across the North East as part of our ask to the public to #DoYourBit this winter to protect yourself, each other and the NHS.

As you will be aware this is part a pilot scheme which started in August in the North Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) area (Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland). This is now being rolled out across the rest of the North East in the Central and South ICP areas. The campaign is being supported by TV, radio and social media advertising.

As we continue to manage the Covid-19 pandemic it really has never been more important for us to put the right steps in place to protect patients, staff and ultimately the NHS in preparation for the expected difficult winter period. By thinking pharmacist, GP and 111 first people can do their bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus, keep people safe and keep A&E free for real emergencies. At the same time this also means they will get the right treatment in the most appropriate place for them too.

You can find out more by visiting our website and please do help us share this important message. A communications toolkit has been shared with communication leads to support this at a local level.

Looking after our own mental health and that of our staff will continue to be crucial over the coming months. Please do try and get some rest if you can this weekend.

I know there are lots of initiatives within organisations across the region to support staff but I thought it was also worth highlighting that NHS England and Improvement are running virtual wellbeing sessions to provide mental health support. The next wellbeing session will be on Wednesday 11th November at 4pm. For more information about the sessions and details on how to join, see here and please do share this with our staff.

Thank you again to everyone for your amazing support during these challenging times.

Best wishes,


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.

National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports: A link to the weekly national flu and COVID-19 report, monitoring COVID-19 activity, seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses can be found here.

Looking after our people: If you are working on programmes, ideas or strategies to retain staff across our region, then you are invited to join a regional retention community of practice event. The event takes place on Wednesday 21st October, 9am-12:30pm and will be run on Microsoft Teams.

For more information and to register your place, visit here.