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.
It provides improved capacity for Covid-19 testing, facilities to develop innovative approaches to Covid science and a regional centre to share and coordinate data, information and resources in the fight against 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.
The three components of the hub are:
A purpose-built Lighthouse laboratory to process thousands more Covid-19 tests
The lab, at Baltic Park in Gateshead, can receive samples from the north east, north Cumbria, Yorkshire and Humberside area and also has capacity to process tests from further afield.
Operating 24/7, it has created hundreds of local jobs and provides significant expansion to testing capacity, strengthening the region’s resilience and ability to control virus spread.
An innovation lab to speed up new Covid testing
The 12-strong team 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 development, implementation and use of improved diagnostics.
Industry organisations who work with the innovation lab may be at early or late stages of developing a new test or approach.
Scientists at the lab will help accelerate the process, by providing 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, specialist knowledge and resource and helps local organisations to agree joint priorities.
The team is supporting local authority partners with their response to managing the virus, including localising contact tracing and rolling out lateral flow testing.
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