Covid Control Plan: Newcastle's Plan
Covid Control Plan: Newcastle's Plan
A lot has happened in the nine months since the initial Newcastle COVID Control Plan was published. This updated version therefore also reflects the lessons we have learned through managing outbreaks, working with partners across a range of settings and the systems and processes we have had to rapidly put in to practice.
This plan is about how we are working to prevent cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 from happening in Newcastle and how we respond if and when they do occur. In summary, the purpose of this plan is to:
- Identify and control outbreaks of infection
- Reduce illness and complications
- Inform future prevention strategies
- Evaluate existing strategies
- Address public concern
Our primary aim continues to be to prevent outbreaks occurring and is why we refer to our plan as the COVID Control Plan, rather than a local outbreak control or management plan.
Local collaboration throughout the pandemic has been exceptional. This needs to continue as we look ahead to recovery. The impact of COVID-19 on our economy and our communities, particularly the most vulnerable, has been immense. We need strong civic leadership and robust partnership arrangements capable of leading our city through the challenging times ahead.
A requirement of local outbreak control plans is to have in place ‘local outbreak control boards’ which provide political ownership and public-facing engagement and communication for outbreak response. In Newcastle, partners recognised the importance of getting the scope of this board right - achieving recovery in the city requires the co-ordination of plans and effort across health, economic and social domains. Economic and social recovery cannot be achieved without effective public health controls.
The City Futures Board (formerly the Wellbeing for Life Board) provides a forum where leaders from local health and care systems work together to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. The Board provides the civic leadership and robust partnership arrangements to lead our city through the challenging times ahead.
There are two Joint Executive Groups reporting to the Board which focus on health and care and growth and prosperity, reinforcing our approach to health and wellbeing, inclusive prosperity and environment and our climate change ambitions.
The Board is well placed to fulfil this broader COVID recovery board role and so act as the local outbreak control board by temporarily co-opting representatives from other organisations with a key role to play in recovery, such as the police, businesses and transport.
The council put in place constitutional changes to define and empower the City Futures Board to act as the Local (Outbreak Control) COVID Recovery Board.
We were also required to put in place a ‘Health Protection Board’ as part of our local outbreak control plans, responsible for the practical implementation of the plan.
Rather than impose new structures and replicate functions, we built upon our existing strong partnerships.
The seven local authorities of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland have been working as a collective “LA7” group since September 2020 focusing on a joint approach to COVID-19.
This has included political leadership to seek early intervention and restrictions, coupled with financial support, in September 2020 when infection rates were increasing rapidly across the area.
The approach was based on a deep understanding of our local communities and informed by data and intelligence which centred around the inequalities that local communities have faced, either directly or indirectly due to COVID-19.
The joint approach has centred around a small set of priorities, informed by Directors of Public Health:
1. Engage our communities and work with them to address inequalities
2. Localised, regionally coordinated Test, Trace and Isolate programme
3. Roll-out of targeted community testing
4. Protection of vulnerable individuals in the community
5. Rapid implementation of a vaccine programme
It has included funding and delivery of a well evaluated public facing campaign Beat COVID NE informed by insights from local people. This has given a joint message across the LA7 geography: https://www.beatcovidne.co.uk/
A focus on health inequalities and taking our communities with us during the pandemic and representing the needs of those most affected by COVID-19 has been based on working with our communities to respond to their needs. Community champions have been core to this work.
The development of a more localised test and trace programme has centred on the Integrated North East Integrated COVID Hub and the move towards a more regional and local focused test and trace programme, including local trace partnerships, support for testing and has drawn additional funding into the North East.
A joint approach to testing based on a set of principles has also been developed for the LA7 to ensure the roll out of targeted community testing is based on the protection of the most vulnerable, support for safe working arrangements and to contribute to action to reduce COVID transmission and COVID-related health inequalities.
Dedicated work with our care homes and the production of materials to support guidance, quality assurance toolkit and support for testing arrangements within care homes have formed part of this work.
More recently support for the implementation of the vaccination programme has been focused on support from local authorities, seeking a core data set, leadership into the oversight of the vaccination programme and insight work on vaccine hesitancy. A dedicated group to ensure high uptake of the vaccination programme is established.
Finally, the LA7 work is now also taking a joint approach to recovery, embedding health and wellbeing as a key outcome of economic recovery.