The government has announced detail this afternoon about its plans for expanding testing eligibility to everyone aged five and over with symptoms. The health secretary also said 21,000 contact tracers had now been recruited.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“Making tests available to everyone over five with symptoms is ambitious. We will need to make sure eligibility is matched by access.
“This is the moment when testing will be more vital than ever as a key component of test, track and trace. We need to understand how the disease is spreading and to follow up every outbreak and for that reason we welcome the recruitment of 21,000 contact tracers.
“The new much trumpeted app will be important, but it is no substitute for local contact tracing which needs to be led by local public and environmental health professionals. If we have learnt anything from this pandemic, it is that trying to control everything from the centre is futile and often counterproductive.
“And of course as part of this it will go on being essential for NHS and care staff to be able to access the tests that they need.”