The government has announced it will make fundamental changes to the Covid-19 Test and Trace system in England, that puts more control into the hands of local councils, following repeated calls for changes by independent scientists. The move comes after it was found that local teams were more successful in reaching contacts than national call centres. The local tracing figures show that local teams are reaching 99% of contacts in complex cases while the call centres get 53%.
Responding to the change, Cllr Sue Haworth, Labour’s Health Spokesperson said:
“We welcome the U-Turn, but the government need to finally concede that the £10 billion they poured into private companies to carry out national Test and Trace has delivered inadequate results, in what is now seen as a wasted investment. This is on top of the failed Covid 19 phone app. They ought to have listened to experienced public health professionals much earlier, and given much more support to the local Test and Trace work.”
Independent scientists report that, as part of NHS Test and Trace, public health teams dealing with outbreaks in factories or care homes, have consistently reached more than 90% of the contacts to trace on their lists.
They call for mobile testing units to be under local control. Lobbying is continuing towards the government fully recognising the need to use the unrivalled skills and local knowledge of public health staff who have been doing very effective infectious disease work for years keeping communities safe.
Cllr Haworth added, “In order to keep Bolton safe from the virus, it is crystal clear that staff in charge locally need to be able to seek out any clusters of disease that may be occurring and then have the ability to get on with rapid contact tracing to bare down on this disease. National Test and Trace funding should be transferred to local towns like Bolton so there is more finance to do contact tracing and to continue and grow all of the good local communication and engagement work going on in the Borough.”