COVID-19 update - 3 September 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
Firstly, can I say a huge thank you to everyone working over the bank holiday weekend. I know things continue to be very busy for everyone and your ongoing support is much appreciated.

As we know, COVID-19 is still very much out there and we will be continuing to remind the public of the rules around social distancing, wearing a face covering and mixing with other households.

As many other areas in the country face local lockdowns, now is the time to make sure we are all aware of the rules and to be clear of the consequences of not following them.

So far in our region the rates of the virus have remained stable but this is not the time to become complacent - this could change at any time and we are all at risk.

ICS partnership event
In last week’s update we brought you news from our ICS partnership ‘virtual’ event and promised we would get back to those that attended with answers to the questions we didn’t get time to cover. There were a number of important issues raised during the event and I wanted to share the summary here. We will be holding another event in October and will keep you posted.

Back to school and supporting our young people
As I’m sure most of you are aware, children and young people have started returning to schools this week which is wonderful to see. I’d like to pay tribute to all of those who have worked tirelessly over the last few months to make our schools COVID safe and ensure that pupils of all ages can resume their education in as safe a manner as possible.

With this in mind I wanted to let you know that Public Health England’s, Better Health campaign, Every Mind Matters, has now been extended to support children and young people aged 8-18 years as they return to school or college. The aim of this new campaign is to help parents/carers and young people to take action to improve mental wellbeing, build emotional resilience and provide support to improve mental wellbeing.

Over the coming weeks we will be encouraging parents to make sure they take up the offer of a free flu vaccine for their children. As you will be aware children aged 2-3, those at primary school and in year 7, as well children with a medical condition, are eligible for the vaccine this year.

Flu vaccination programme
As you know from my previous bulletins, flu vaccinations will be more important than ever this year as we all seek to protect patients and staff, reduce the number of people who need treatment this winter, and as we continue to reset services that have been disrupted by the pandemic.

This year we will also be reassuring the public that it’s safe to have the flu jab – with strict infection control and social distancing measures in place across the patch.

This winter we will be delivering our biggest vaccination programme and have set ourselves an ambitious target of vaccinating 95 per cent of those in eligible groups for the flu jab. Nationally we are expected to achieve a minimum of 75 per cent. For our health and care workforce we are aiming for 100 per cent uptake of the vaccination. Our ambition is deliberately stretching and of course dependant on additional vaccine supply.

For those that are not aware a system-wide Flu Board, which is chaired by Dr Neil O’Brien, has been established and is leading the strategic planning of the vaccination programme supporting the excellent work already underway in local areas. A number of task and finish groups have been established to enable us to focus on key areas such as PPE requirements, workforce and ensuring the vaccination programmes can be delivered safely in light of COVID-19.

The expansion of this year’s programme includes household contacts of those on the NHS shielded patient list, children of school year 7 in secondary schools, and health and social care workers employed through Direct Payment and/or Personal Health Budgets delivering domiciliary care to patients and service users.

All of these efforts form part of our #doyourbit campaign which is asking people to do their bit to protect themselves and each other this winter – whether that’s having a flu vaccination, wearing a face covering or using services sensibly. You will see and hear more about this over the coming weeks and please so all you can to support us in sharing these important messages.

There’s already some great work underway by our Learning Disability Network and Skills for People to support people to get well for this winter. They are launching a 12 week programme for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, to help them get as well as possible. For more information you can watch their film here.

Emergency services day
On 9 September it will be Emergency Services Day which gives us the chance to not only celebrate the work of our amazing workforce, but also reassure the public that emergency services are still available when people need them. We will be supporting this on our social media channels – please do join us.

On that note, I would like to again thank you all for your continued efforts as we continue to move forward through these challenging times. Your hard work is much appreciated.

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.

Latest NHS Test and Trace (England) and coronavirus testing (UK) statistics: 20 August to 26 August 2020

Leaving hospital to go to another place of care: patient leaflet: Leaflet given to patients before they are discharged to another place of care.

Health and care women leaders network: You may be aware that in June the Health and Care Women Leaders Network (HCWLN) commissioned a survey to better understand the impact the pandemic has had on women working across health and care services. Over 1,300 women responded to the survey, which drew on some of the positive experiences, such as opportunities for learning and the strength of support many have received from their managers; as well as describing the struggles women working in health and care services have faced during the pandemic. You can read the full report here, which gives a more detailed look into the findings.