COVID-19 update - 24 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
Dr Neil O’Brien, chair of our flu board, GP in County Durham and accountable officer for South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), has been filmed by Tyne Tees today to share our messages about the importance of getting the flu vaccine this year. The piece should be airing tonight at around 6pm, so do keep an eye out and watch if you can.

I would also like to thank Ovingham Middle School in Northumberland for their help and especially to their year 7 pupil, Naomi Jewitt, for agreeing to take part in this filming. A big thank you also to staff and patients at Cestria Health Centre for doing their bit and getting involved in the filming too.

This, of course, follows the launch of our #DoYourBit flu campaign last week where we are encouraging our communities to continue to do their bit to protect themselves and each other, including people to take up the offer of a free vaccine. Remember if you would like to access the comms toolkit you can email Laura Keen. You can take a look on our YouTube page to see some of the animations we have released to support the campaign.

Further restrictions
As I’m sure you’re all aware, the government this week announced further national restrictions to address the rising number of coronavirus cases across the country, which you can read about in full here. This follows local restrictions which we welcomed in last week’s update. We all have to do our bit to control this virus and now is the time to remain extra vigilant, make sure we are all aware of the rules and be clear on the consequences of not following them.

Using services sensibly
With this in mind, we will be reinforcing our message to the public to protect the NHS by not just turning up to A&E departments and to think pharmacy, GP and 111 first. Our A&E departments across the region are very busy at the moment and Jo Hughes, an A&E consultant from Northumbria Healthcare, has penned this blog telling everyone first hand why it is so important to access services correctly. We will be issuing our own media release on behalf of our ICS tomorrow.

In light of COVID-19, and with winter ahead, it is more important than ever that we don’t have large volumes of people attending A&E departments when they could be seen elsewhere.

By thinking of alternative services such as pharmacist, GP and 111 first, people can do their bit to help stop the spread of COVID-19, keep people safe and keep A&E free for serious emergencies. At the same time, this also means they will get the right treatment in a timely manner, in the most appropriate place for them too.

Social care plan
A new adult social care winter plan to support care homes through winter, including free PPE, to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections in care settings has been announced and we will of course be working closely with our partners through the coming months to ensure we help to protect our care homes.

ICS partnership event
At our partnership webinar on the 25th August I took the opportunity to explain to partners the steps to be taken over the coming months to ensure that a partnership board and independent chair are in place by the 1st April 2021, in line with what is happening throughout England. I promised further details as soon as possible.

The four Integrated Care Partnerships have been asked for nominees to sit on a task and finish group to focus on recruitment and appointment of the independent chair.

The membership will comprise non-executive chairs and representatives from local authorities and VCSE ( in full ?) partners, together with the NHS England/Improvement (NHSE/I) regional director and ICS executive. The first meeting is to be held in late October. The appointment process will be co-produced through this group but will follow closely the best practise recruitment principles and guidance from NHSE/I.

The proposed timetable is broadly:

  • October/November to convene recruitment and appointments group and undertake the recruitment process
  • November/ December shortlist and interview
  • The aim is that during January 2021 the independent chair takes up appointment
  • ICS lead and ICS chair will work with ICPs to organise representation and timing and agenda for the first meeting of the partnership board.
  • February/March founding meeting of the partnership board
Based on the NHSE/I guidance the regional director has a key role to work with us to guide the process, as the successful candidate for the role of independent chair requires the approval of NHSE/I chief executive Simon Stevens.

Best wishes,


Alan Foster is executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System

News and updates

VCS Emergencies Partnership: There is a webinar for those who would like to find out more about the VCS Emergencies Partnership in the North of England and how it can help support the COVID19 response, on Monday 28th at 3pm. Sign up is here.

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.