COVID-19 ICS update - 22 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
Our thoughts are very much with colleagues in areas that are facing further restrictions and challenges such as the north-west. While we are seeing increased admissions of Covid positive patients across the North East and North Cumbria overall we are managing well and continue to deliver planned care for our communities. Something I know we all want to continue to do. In England we are seeing some early signs that survival is improving and the numbers of people requiring mechanical ventilation is lower than it was earlier this year. That said, we are not complacent.

You may have seen in the news this week the story of 25-year-old Lauren Mackenzie, who spent four days in intensive care at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington after testing positive for COVID-19. Lauren’s story serves as another reminder to us all about the importance of remaining vigilant and that COVID-19 can affect us all – no matter what age.

BAME promise

Next week, we’ll be formally launching our collective promise to BAME colleagues and communities. The collective promise aims to ensure fairness for all and embedding a culture where people can thrive no matter what their race, background or personal experience.


We have now launched the next part of our #DoYourBit winter campaign which reminds people to think pharmacy, GP and 111 first and to use emergency services sensibly. Television, radio and social media advertising has started and tomorrow we are hoping that Tyne Tees will broadcast interviews with Mr Bas Sen, clinical lead and consultant in emergency medicine at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals and Lily Lamb, GP from Ponteland Medical Group. You can watch our animation here. Please also look out for video messages from clinicians from across the patch over the coming weeks. To find out more click here.


Can I say a big thank you to everyone for all their hard work to deliver flu vaccinations. Data is showing that we have one of the highest uptake rates in the country for people aged over 65 which is a fantastic achievement in these challenging times and is a testament to all the hard work of teams across the region. As more vaccine comes available we need to target are those in at clinical at risk groups and our regional #DoYourBit campaign will be supporting and focusing on this aspect.

In terms of vaccine supplies guidance has been issued to practices explaining the process on how to order more vaccine from DHSC stocks. Please read the guidance and liaise with your CCG flu lead for any support needed.

So you are aware, nationally ‘call and recall’ letters are being sent to those in the under 65 at risk categories from next week. The call to action is for people to speak to their GP or pharmacist to find out more information and to get booked in.

Recruitment opens to appoint a chairperson

Over the past year the Integrated Care System (ICS) has evolved and, following national policy, we are required to formally appoint a chairperson. This role will be crucial in supporting the next stage of our evolution - enabling and galvanizing the work of system leaders to maximise the benefits of collaborative working, shared decision making and effective governance.

The chairperson will have responsibility for ensuring that proper governance arrangements are in place to assure member organisations of the on-going capability and capacity of the board to set the strategic direction of the ICS.

We are currently finalising the arrangements for the recruitment panel, who will advise us through this process, with some participating in the formal interviews. This panel will include representation from NHS, local authority and voluntary organisations.

To help us recruit the best candidate for this extremely important role we have commissioned Gatenby Sanderson. They will commence this process in the coming week and expect a chair to be in position by the end of January 2021. Please note the tenure for this appointment is up to three years.

Digital summit

There is lots of other work going on across the patch and it was great to see the region’s digital summit happening today, overviewing the great work on refreshing our region’s vision.

The morning covered sessions on the work delivering our digital ready workforce, shared care records, patient portal, population health, research and Clinical Digital Resource Collaboration. The afternoon covered pathology, radiology, healthcall and various workshops. The slides and recordings will be available tomorrow on our website, alongside two short videos that explain about the progress with shared care records and vision for our patient portal.

Thanks again for all that you are doing.

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.

Coronavirus – social care update: See here for a message from Helen Whately, Minister for Care, Department of Health and Social Care.