News | Published August 11 2020

NHS Test and Trace to offload 6,000 staff

The government has said that 6,000 staff will be cut from the NHS Test and Trace system in England by the end of the month, following criticism of its efficiency.

The remaining 12,000 people working as contact tracers will now be redeployed and work alongside local public health teams to successfully reach more infected people and their close contacts who may have contracted Covid-19. NHS staff who work as advisers to individuals who test positive will remain in post.

The approach of using local resources has been used to good effect in Blackburn where lockdown restrictions have been reintroduced locally.

The system will now offer the option to all councils that assume responsibility for public health in their local areas, meaning that individual areas will have a “ring-fenced team” originally from the national contact tracing effort, the Department of Health has said.

NHS Test and Trace chief Dido Harding said: "We have always been clear that NHS Test and Trace must be local by default and that we do not operate alone - we work with and through partners across the country.

"As we learn more about the spread of the disease, we are able to move to our planned next step and become even more effective in tackling the virus.

"After successful trials in a small number of local areas, I am very pleased to announce that we are now offering this integrated localised approach to all local authorities to ensure we can reach more people in their communities and stop the spread of Covid-19.”

The success rate for the national NHS Test and Trace effort in reaching close contacts of positive cases who do not live together peaked at 70 per cent in mid-July but has since been in decline. Comparatively, public health teams dealing with localised outbreaks in settings such as care homes and factory workplaces as part of the nation scheme have consistently had a success rate of 90 per cent.

Alongside the revamped Test and Trace system, 200 more walk-in testing centres will be opened by October.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
August 11 2020

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