Responding to the latest test and trace figures
, Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said:
“The latest test and trace figures demonstrate we are now in an extremely precarious position. Positive cases are continuing to rise, up 23 per cent week-on-week, and the test and trace system is clearly not curbing this rise enough. Only 60.3 per cent of identified contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate, well below the 80 per cent that scientists tell us is needed to make the system effective. It is reassuring to see turnaround times for test results have shortened, but they continue to be longer than they were at the end of June, and this is concerning: it leaves people in limbo, not knowing if they have the virus or not, causes delays in contact tracing, and our members have told us that delays have increased staff absence.
“Action must be taken to redress these issues.
“We have already seen new national lockdowns imposed in France and Germany, and if we cannot come to a position where infection rates change direction in the near future through improved test and trace processes, plus really good public adherence to restrictions, including the ‘hands, face, space’ precautions, this could be the next step in the UK. Our members tell us that in many cases, capacity within the NHS is already stretched, and numbers of patients being admitted with COVID-19 are rising. If the current trajectory continues, this situation will become worse, particularly as we concurrently start to experience the usual winter pressures. Furthermore, if staff and hospital spaces need to be redeployed to meet COVID-19 demand, it will become harder to restore and maintain routine services.
“This is especially concerning in light of the latest findings of the REACT survey
, which has shown a major increase in the prevalence of the virus, with 128 people per 10,000 infected, and a doubling rate of nine days. From the Government, we must see immediate strengthening of the test and trace regime, as well as swift action on decisions regarding any further restrictions, ensuring they are based on best scientific evidence and well-communicated to the public.”