COVID-19 ICS update - 30 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
Thank you
Our thoughts continue to be with our colleagues and communities who have been affected by the COVID pandemic, especially those who have lost loved ones.

There’s much debate and speculation about the next steps in terms of restrictions for the region, as I am sure you will have seen in the media. It’s a mixed picture for the North East and North Cumbria - with rates of infections remaining high in some areas but not growing as quickly in others. That said admissions to hospitals continue to rise and whilst we are managing to maintain planned care, there is no doubt this is a crucial time for us all.

So, I wanted to start today’s update by thanking you all for your continued hard work in the face of the many challenges we are currently experiencing. Your contribution is making a huge difference to the communities we care for.

The seven North East local authorities have today released a statement thanking the public for their efforts to control the virus and reminding everyone to continue to do their bit to help drive down the number of infections.

Flu - keep going!
I’d like to thank everyone for their fantastic efforts to deliver the flu vaccination programme. We continue to have one of the highest uptake rates in the country for people aged 65 and over which is great. As more vaccines become available in the next few weeks, we will be targeting our communications even further. This will include advertising to clinical at-risk groups, especially in those areas where we know uptake has been historically low. Our #DoYourBit campaign will be focussing on delivering these messages and you can find out more here [add link].

#DoYourBit - think pharmacy, GP and 111 first
Last week I mentioned the launch of the next part of our #DoYourBit winter campaign which is reminding people to think pharmacy, GP and 111 first and to use emergency services sensibly. You can now view the media release here.

On Monday this week Tyne Tees 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 the report from here.

We are continuing to promote the campaign across our social media channels and it has been great to see so many organisations across the region doing the same.

BAME promise
We have now formally launched our collective promise to BAME colleagues and communities across our region.

The promise aims to ensure fairness for all and embedding a culture where, no matter what your race, and/or background, your personal experience, either as a staff member or someone who accesses health and care services, is one that is not influenced by any bias, be it unconscious or not.

The collective promise includes projects to increase diversity in our workforce, introducing new training for all staff to raise awareness of BAME issues, BAME leadership programmes, a zero tolerance for bullying and harassment and BAME community and staff engagement initiatives. You can read more about our promise here.

BBC report
You may have seen in the media this week a follow up report from BBC News on the great care provided by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust during these challenging times. In April, BBC News visited the intensive care unit at the University College Hospital in London and followed up their initial report by visiting the RVI in Newcastle to see how staff are coping with demand following the recent increase in COVID cases and how this compares to the first wave in the spring. You can read the report in full here, which shines a light on the incredible effort of the staff involved in caring for patients with COVID-19.

Celebrating Halloween safely
Sadly, Halloween traditions will look very different this year and across the region we have been reminding people to stick to the rules when it comes to social gatherings and mixing with other households; as well as the fact that trick or treating outdoors is not recommended.

Thank you again for all that you are doing and know that your contribution is greatly appreciated.

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.

Largest COVID-19 antibody testing programme publishes findings on antibody response over time: Findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI show the number of people with antibodies fell by 26.5% over 3 months. Read more here.

Don’t wait: Following the success of the ‘Don’t Wait’ quit smoking campaign over the summer, a second phase of the campaign has been launched this week.

The last few months have seen nationally a surge in people attempting to quit, particularly here in the North East, and it is important that we try to sustain this.

We are continuing to support the campaign on our social media channels and you can read more about the campaign on the Fresh website here.