Our integrated Covid hub for the north east is the first of its kind in England and places the region at the forefront of managing the virus.
The creation of the hub has provided:
- more capacity for Covid-19 testing
- specialist facilities to develop innovative approaches to Covid science and
- a regional centre to share and coordinate data, information and resources.
The hub is hosted by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of a partnership involving north east local authorities and NHS organisations, public health teams, local universities and industry. Its three main components are:
A purpose-built Lighthouse laboratory to process thousands of Covid-19 tests
The lab, at Baltic Park in Gateshead, receives Covid samples from the north east and beyond, as part of the national Test and Trace service.
The facility provides a significant expansion to Covid testing capacity, strengthening the region’s resilience and ability to control virus spread.
One of the largest labs in England, it operates 24/7, and has created hundreds of local jobs.
An innovation lab to speed up new Covid testing
The 11-strong team of scientists at this specialist lab at the Biosphere in Newcastle Helix, works with the NHS, universities and industry partners to speed up the development of new approaches for Covid testing.
Focussed on coordinating capability and ideas across sectors, the lab’s facilities are designed to accelerate the validation, implementation and use of improved diagnostics.
Industry organisations working with the innovation lab may be at early or late stages of developing a new test or approach.
Scientists at the lab have access to a high-tech testing and simulation area and a bank of biological research samples.
This innovative work will help combat the Covid-19 pandemic and, in the longer term, provide greater resilience for fighting future pandemics.
A coordination and response centre
The coordination and response centre brings together information, data and specialist knowledge from the NHS, local councils and other partners to support timely, effective management of virus spread.
It supports regional collaboration for sharing data, information, knowledge, and resources and helps local organisations agree on joint priorities.
The team is currently working with north east local authorities to tackle Covid-19 through providing additional resources and insight to strengthen a community-based response with the benefit of a regional overview.
Some of our support services include:
- Surge capacity to support testing or local contact tracing, including tracing calls and analysis if required
- Training on Covid testing processes and strategies for rapid and large scale testing
- Community engagement to provide information and support safe isolation
- Providing an additional and unique level of data analysis, to identify and manage risks and pressures.
Our team provides training to organisations, businesses and events regarding how to effectively undertake PCR and lateral flow testing, using a ‘train the trainer’ model to maximise community reach.
We also work with local authorities to create mobile testing units and provide trained staff to support resilience in specific areas during Covid outbreaks.
With access to national contact tracing systems, our trained team undertakes local calls to support people who have tested Covid positive, particularly with sharing information about their contacts and with information they may need for safe self-isolation.
Our in-house call handlers can be deployed immediately during periods of pressure and rapid reporting is provided to local authorities to inform their response.
Data and analytics
Providing additional and unique analysis across numerous Covid data sets, our team undertakes bi-weekly analysis for the 12 north east local authorities, including live and predictive reporting which informs local response and action.
Through bespoke data and insight packages we help partners monitor and evaluate their local response to Covid.
Through liaising with community groups and charities across the region, we are helping to share information and address concerns relating to health inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, alongside ensuring under-represented groups are part of future pandemic planning.
The collective effort in combating the pandemic to date has been outstanding and owes much to the excellence of services, partnership working and also the public playing their part in minimising the spread of the virus. We know that testing and tracing will continue to be a key pillar of the national strategy to protect the NHS and save lives, as well as supporting the economy. Our integrated Covid hub will be a major step in ensuring we are in the strongest position to deal with the ongoing pressures of the pandemic.Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust