The tracing system forCOVID-19 is not reaching a quarter of people transferred to it, says NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson.
The NHS test and trace service is intended to ensure that anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 can be quickly tested and their close contacts can be traced, to help curb the spread of the virus. People who have developed symptoms are asked to self-isolate for at least 7 days and order a test immediately online or by calling 119. If their test is positive, they will be asked for the details of people that they have recently had close contact with, so that they can be contacted and begin isolation and testing themselves.
However, the NHS Confederation says that not only are 1 in 4 people transferred to the system not being reached, but, out of those contacted, a quarter of their close contacts are not being reached as well. Mr Dickson has said ‘we are still waiting for the world-beating test and trace system that was promised’ and that the current system ‘is not good enough’.
With pubs and restaurants set to open on July 4, and therefore an increased likelihood of people coming closer together in confined areas, it is crucial that the test and trace system is improved.
Commenting on the test and trace with regard to healthcare workers, a Royal College of Nursing spokesperson said, ‘When our members are still saying the personal protective equipment is in short supply or imperfectly fitting, it is too dangerous to make assumptions’ on exposure and the spread of the virus.
Healthcare workers are vital to handling the COVID-19 crisis, and are under risk themselves as they will frequently come into contact with patients with COVID-19. The RCN says that: ‘Further work is needed to understand how to manage the exposure of healthcare workers in test and trace, to ensure actions are proportionate and support them, and to ensure the delivery of health and care services.’