As the new test and trace programme develops, we have been calling for joint working between local and national government in the implementation of the test and trace service. We acknowledge that developing a comprehensive strategy is multifaceted, but it is essential that national government works closely with local agencies to ensure information is shared and the programme can be implemented on the ground.
Our members have consistently expressed concerns over the length of time taken for test results, especially in regard to the social care system. We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to get all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June. Quick turnaround of test results is imperative to reducing the spread of the virus, as it will allow people to self-isolate quickly if positive and, where negative, return to work.
In order to effectively prevent a second surge, it is imperative for a fully operational test and trace programme to be in place, with contact tracers who are fully trained and effective in the process.
Without an effective test and trace programme, there is a risk of another spike in cases and deaths, which can be disastrous to the population.
28 May update
We have been vocal in pushing for local authorities and systems to be involved in the development and implementation of the service. We held a meeting for our members with Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council and Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital, who are respectively responsible for contact tracing and testing.
The test and trace service will be focused around four main actions: testing, tracing, containing and enabling. The service will be phased in and will initially be implemented in 11 areas. The local councils which are outside the pilot areas will be invited to participate in regular engagement and best practice sharing sessions.
During the meeting, details were provided on how national, regional and local teams will work together to deliver the service and the seven themes that the plan will be centred on were outlined.
Once the official guidance on the strategy is published, we will update members.
2 July update
One month into the release of the figures, we continue to see that more than one in four people identified as close contacts are still not being reached by test and trace service. This is simply not good enough. It is clear that running a programme of this scale is challenging and we acknowledge the efforts that are being put in, but it is essential that more is done to contact those who are infected.
With lockdown measures being eased, an effective tracing system is vital to contain the virus and reduce transmission. We are calling for a programme that will identify far more close contacts than are currently being reached, in a timely manner.
The Confederation is closely monitoring and analysing the weekly test and trace statistics and will continue to watch the development of the test and trace programme.