If you need additional assistance reading our website please use our accessibility tool.


Keeping staff and patients safe this winter

Thursday, 01 July, 2021
Keeping staff and patients safe this winter

Hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside are set to continue with the current pandemic safety measures for the foreseeable future to help protect everyone from infections such as Covid19 and flu.

The safety measures introduced nationally have helped not only protect staff, patients and visitors over the past year, but enabled Northumbria to continue providing many of the non-urgent services that would otherwise have been postponed.

All staff, visitors and outpatients at the Trust’s 10 hospitals are currently required to wear face masks, socially distance and wash their hands before entering the site and Northumbria is now planning to continue with these measures into the future.

While the government roadmap eventually plans to remove measures like this from everyday life it’s vital that the public can be confident about accessing or visiting local healthcare services safely.

With that in mind the Trust is planning to keep the measures in place as the NHS heads into another winter facing increasing demand and pressure on services.

Wearing masks, social distancing, pre-booking visitor slots and installing sinks outside all buildings has really helped keep people safe and stop the spread of Covid19, so it’s hoped that continuing with these measures will also prevent people spreading flu, norovirus and other variants during the rest of the year.

Sir James Mackey, chief executive said: “We keep these sorts of issues under constant review but it’s clear that the infection prevention control measures at hospital sites will continue to be vital in protecting everyone into the future.

“As we head into another very busy period our main concern is keeping everyone as safe as possible, particularly as we look after some of the most vulnerable people in society at a time when they are often very ill.

“Simple things like increased hand washing and wearing masks will play an important part in making hospitals as safe as possible but also enabling us to continue providing all the treatment and operations that we need to in order to reduce the backlog that has built up during the pandemic.”


A rigorous approach to infection prevention measures at Northumbria along with increased day case surgery and making the best use of facilities has helped keep waiting lists and times as short as possible during the past year.

In fact, Northumbria carried out more than 14,500 procedures or operations during the pandemic.

Sir James added: “To help keep things moving we’ve really focused on day case surgery and we’re probably doing around 3 times as many of these short, low length of stay operations as other areas.

“We have been able to do a large proportion of our elective activity compared to last year while urgent cancer operations, trauma surgery and orthopaedic surgery have never stopped.

“To help get even more patients through the system we’re now looking to expand our operating theatre footprint even further, using new equipment, increasing staffing by developing new apprenticeships, introducing new training posts and investing millions of pounds in new facilities.”

Northumbria also has some of the best Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) in the country and is rated first in the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) rankings for day case surgery.

Other measures have included:

  • Virtual appointments have helped patients see medical professionals and also proved more convenient for many people by reducing the need to travel. It’s also helped the environment by reducing the number of miles travelled by staff and patients by more than 2.6 million.
  • Blood tests that would have been previously been done by GPs or nurses were done by pop-up phlebotomy clinics in the community, reducing the pressure on local surgeries.
  • A new system of direct advice and guidance linking GPs with hospital consultants has improved triage and helped support patients.
  • A strict testing and pre-operative self-isolation regime ensured elective patients could keep coming in to have their operations during the lock down.
  • Medics and nurses went through all waiting lists and utilised video conferencing to help patients better understand the balance of risk and provide reassurance about their procedure.
  • All theatre staff working for the hospital were restricted to one location to prevent the possible spread between sites.

A surgical site infection team rang every patient before their operation and then again 30 days later to build a better picture of how the system was working and improve patient flow through the hospitals.

Media contact

Ross Wigham

Deputy Director of Communications

Communications, Foundation and Engagement Team

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Tel 0191 203 1664

Mobile: 07816 850159

Join us on Facebook and Twitter – @northumbrianhs