Test And Trace Not 'Fit For Purpose, Let Alone World Class', Says NHS Providers Chief - Rugby and Daventry Radio Station Midlands UK            

Test And Trace Not ‘Fit For Purpose, Let Alone World Class’, Says NHS Providers Chief

Written by on August 12, 2020

Article Published on Wednesday August 12, 2020 3:05 PM by

Test And Trace Not ‘Fit For Purpose, Let Alone World Class’, Says NHS Providers Chief

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The government’s coronavirus test and trace system is not yet “fit for purpose, let alone world class”, NHS Providers’ chief executive has said.

Chris Hopson, whose organisation represents all NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services, said England would face a “big problem” if ministers do not get a grip on the scheme by winter.

He said the service needs to boost the proportion of infected people being brought into the system and giving contact details, and to ensure more people isolate, so the government can stay on top of Covid-19.

Speaking to the all party parliamentary group on coronavirus on Wednesday, Hopson also backed calls for the government to offer financial support to those who are contacted by NHS test and trace and told to self isolate because they have been in contact with someone who is infected.

And he said the service needs to be better at reaching into deprived and Black and ethnic minority (BAME) communities which have seen local outbreaks.

Boris Johnson has insisted NHS test and trace is “world beating” but figures released last week showed it is still failing to reach thousands of Covid-19 patients and their contacts to ensure they self isolate.

The Department of Health and Social Care statistics showed that, between July 23 and July 29, just 72% of positive cases were contacted by NHS test and trace, which is chaired by Tory peer Dido Harding. 

Baroness Dido Harding during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus

In turn, contact tracers were only able to reach 72% of Covid-19 patients close contacts. 

The numbers represent a percentage fall from the previous week, when 81% of positive cases were reached and 76% of their close contacts were reached. 

Hopson said an NHS Providers survey due to be published this week will show that many trusts “are not particularly happy and not particularly confident” in the service.

He told MPs: “When we get to winter, it is clinically very difficult to tell the difference between winter flu and Covid symptoms.

“And key to doing that is to have sufficient testing capacity with at least next day turnaround in order for you to identify whether you are looking at a winter flu patient or whether you are looking at a Covid patient.

“There is huge amounts of work to be done.”

Hopson added: “There’s an awful lot that still needs to be done before we can be confident that we’ve got a fit for purpose, let alone world class, test and trace service in place for winter.”

Hopson suggested that offering people financial help to self isolate if they face losing earnings could help.

“We agree very strongly with those that are arguing that  government financial support for those who find it difficult financially to isolate for the required 14 days,” he said.

“If you really want the isolation to happen you are going to have to boost that support.”

The NHS Providers chief executive also noted that recent local outbreaks “do have a particular demographic profile” and “tend to be areas that tend to be quite deprived, they tend to quite often have high percentages of black and ethnic minority (people), they also tend to be in areas with high population density”.

“One of the things that test and trace, if you talk to directors of public health, they absolutely want it to do, they want the test and trace service to reach more effectively into those communities, some of who to be frank don’t particularly want to interact with the state and are not used to interacting with the state.”

Hopson added: “It’s absolutely not a silver bullet but we absolutely have to develop at pace a fit for purpose testing regime.

“We’re sort of getting there but it’s got to be speeded up and it’s got to be in place by winter.

“And if it’s not that really is a big problem.”

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Test And Trace Not ‘Fit For Purpose, Let Alone World Class’, Says NHS Providers Chief
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