As well as the harm to patients, these arrangements were frustrating for health and social care organisations in Newcastle who were working hard to protect, care and treat local people.
“We knew there had to be a better way. Key partners within Collaborative Newcastle came together and we proposed an alternative model for dealing with the pandemic. We developed plans for an Integrated Covid Hub for the region, designed to build on our key strengths locally – strong partnership working, high-quality clinical services, excellent universities and effective public health arrangements in the local authority.”
Martin Wilson, COO, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust
The resulting proposal contained three key elements:
1. A lighthouse laboratory to undertake up to 80,000 Covid tests per day
2. An innovation lab, to research and advance Covid science around testing
3. A Covid coordination and response centre to support local authorities in the public health response
The primary objective for the proposed Hub was to enable faster diagnosis for people with Covid disease, thus reducing the chances of passing it to other people and therefore saving lives.
The ambitious proposal was approved by government and by October 2020 work to establish the Hub and recruit staff was underway.
“Throughout this pandemic the strength of our partnership across Collaborative Newcastle has been critical and the co-operation between our organisations saw this innovative plan develop quickly and successfully. Crucially this investment brings 1,100 high-quality jobs, providing new career opportunities for many local people.”
Pat Ritchie, CEO, Newcastle City Council
An ongoing Collaborative Newcastle project is now underway to ensure that the Integrated Covid Hub becomes a long-term legacy for the region.
“This new facility brings together the expertise of public health, the NHS and our universities. The work done here will play a critical role not only in dealing with Covid-19 but also to support work to identify, prevent and deal with any future pandemics.”
Eugene Milne, Newcastle’s Director of Public Health