North East’s health and political leaders issue statement

Thu 19th November 2020

We know how difficult it has been to follow a second national lockdown on top of the local restrictions we have been living with for so long.

Our doctors, nurses, social care and other key workers would like to join the region’s political leaders and directors of public health in thanking everyone for their efforts.

It is thanks to your hard work that your local health services have been able to provide a wider range of vital services, including catching up on some of the treatments we were unable to deliver through the first lockdown alongside preparing for normal winter pressures as well as a second wave of Covid.

Like everyone, we are determined to do everything we can to support and care for you, your families and friends, but we need your help as this is not over.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen cases in our communities increasing and, as a result, hospital admissions are rising rapidly. Unfortunately, this is a trend we are likely to see continue going into winter.

Our local hospitals are appealing to the public to only attend A&E if they have serious or life-threatening emergencies.

We have learnt so much about Covid and how to treat it, but the virus remains a potent threat. The more Covid positive patients in hospital, the fewer beds and staff we have to treat other people. Inevitably this leads to worse outcomes, including, sadly, excess deaths.

The current lockdown is due to end on 2 December and what lies beyond that is unknown territory.

It is just 14 days away, so we all need to continue reducing social contact and following the rules.

We need to all remember why we are doing this. It is about saving lives and protecting the NHS to ensure it is not over run and able to cope with the demands on our services. We need your support to ensure that all our services remain open and safe.

Our critical care units must be kept as free as possible to deal with those people who need it most for example, road traffic accidents, strokes and severe respiratory illnesses, just three examples.

What is equally important to remember is that the solutions sit with all of us, regardless of who you are and what you do. Very simple actions will ensure our NHS copes but also keeps you personally safe from infection.  We all have a responsibility to minimise the risk of infection. If we do get infected, we all have a responsibility not to pass this on – especially to our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, indeed anyone in our family, or our friends and neighbours.

News on vaccinations is encouraging but we are still a long way off from any one of them being administered as an effective defence.

For now, following the rules – hands, face, space, is the best defence we have. We cannot urge people enough to please adhere to the guidance of Hands (wash very regularly), Face (wear a facemask – but please wear over nose and mouth), Space (social distance at all time – 2 metres).

Those who have symptoms must get a test, self-isolate until they get the result and if positive continue to self-isolate for the full 14 days.

Those contacted through NHS Test and Trace must also get a test and self-isolate if requested to do so – there is no short cut out of this. Support is available for people to self-isolate and is detailed on our council websites.

If we don’t adhere to the restrictions, we are likely to see a further rise in infection rates, increased hospitalisations and sadly deaths. This is our responsibility and in a typical north east fashion, we know we can all pull together to get us through these difficult times.

Thank you.


  • Sir James Mackey, Chief Executive, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Ken Bremner MBE, Chief Executive, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
  • Helen Ray, Chief Executive, North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
  • Yvonne Ormston MBE, Chief Executive, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • John Lawlor OBE, Cumbria Northumberland Tyne and Wear Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sue Jacques, Chief Executive, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
  • Alan Foster MBE, Chief Executive Lead, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System
  • Mark Adams, Chief Officer, NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG, NHS North Tyneside CCG, NHS Northumberland CCG, NHS North Cumbria CCG
  • Dr Neil O’Brien, Accountable officer for South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham CCGs and GP in County Durham
  • Cllr Simon Henig, CBE, Leader, Durham County Council
  • Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council
  • Cllr Nick Forbes, CBE, Leader, Newcastle City Council
  • Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council
  • Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader, Northumberland County Council
  • Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader, South Tyneside Council
  • Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader, Sunderland City Council
  • Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor
  • Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner