The 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 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.
Scheduled to open in December 2020, the hub includes:
A new Lighthouse laboratory to process thousands more Covid-19 tests
This purpose-built lab, in Gateshead, serves the north east, north Cumbria, Yorkshire and Humberside area.
The lab will operate 24/7 and provides significant expansion to test and trace capacity, with the ability to carry out 80,000 tests a day at peak. It will deliver rapid turnaround of results, strengthening the region’s resilience and ability to control virus spread.
Development of the lab has created around 1000 local jobs.
An innovation lab focused on cutting-edge science
The team at this specialist lab at the Biosphere in Newcastle Helix, will work with the NHS, universities and industry partners to speed up the development of new approaches for the next stage of Covid tests and technology.
The innovation lab is focussed on coordinating capability and ideas across sectors and can provide unique access to facilities designed to accelerate the development, implementation and use of improved diagnostic testing.
This will help in the short term to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and in the long term to provide greater resilience for fighting future pandemics.
Organisations who work with the innovation lab may be at early or late stages of developing a new diagnostic test.
Scientists at the lab will help accelerate the process, by providing access to everything needed to safely develop the test for use in the NHS including a high-tech testing and simulation area and access to a bank of biological samples for research.
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 identify patterns of virus spread and support timely, effective management of potential or actual outbreaks.
It introduces a level of regional collaboration for data, information and specialist knowledge and will assist local organisations to identify patterns, agree joint priorities and activate a quick response to risks and pressures.
The centre’s work will inform coordinated, standardised advice to help services and communities respond quickly to potential or actual outbreaks, including targeted local restrictions and public health campaigns.
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