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17.07.20

NHS Confederation: Test and trace improvements welcome, further to go still

NHS Confederation have responded to the latest statistics from NHS Test and Trace, showing an improvement in the number of people reached, welcoming the increase but warning there was still further progress to be made.

Dr Layla McCay, a Director at the NHS Confederation, said: “It is heartening to see there has been a slight improvement in the percentage of people reached who had their case transferred to the contact tracing system – but there is still more work to do, as the scheme is still not reaching the 80 per cent target for tracing close contacts recommended by SAGE.

“Indeed, only 71.1 per cent of people identified as close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate. This is at the heart of this system and of minimising the spread of the virus: if more close contacts cannot be reached, it will be far more difficult to maintain safety and protect the NHS.

“We're also hearing that testing data availability continues to be an issue for local authorities. If increasing the number of close contacts traced is a genuine goal, we would hope to see more transparency, making best use of the expertise of local Directors of Public Health, to help trace and reduce outbreaks and ensure that planning for local lockdowns can be effective and, importantly, fast.

“This is at the same time that the Government has said some test kits may not meet the required safety standards and that all settings using them have been asked to pause until further notice, which could further impede the programme.

“Testing capacity and accessibility are critical to its success and we hope this issue is resolved quickly.”

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