Female health professional carrying out a swab test on a patient

Major test and trace improvements key to avoid further restrictions

As different parts of England adjust to their new levels of restriction under the Prime Minister’s three-tiered system, NHS Confederation have stressed the importance of making improvements to the test and trace system to prevent further avoidable restrictions.

Responding to the latest NHS test and trace figures, Dr Layla McCay, Director at NHS Confederation, expressed their reassurance in seeing some improvements in turnaround times for in-person testing results, but pointed to continued delays in satellite and home tests as being a point of continued concern.

Dr McCay said: “The latest test and trace figures paint a clear picture of what is on the cards for the UK. As cases continue to rise steeply, it is becoming increasingly likely we will see more – and more stringent – restrictions.

“While the trace system is still identifying contacts for fewer than 80 per cent of people who test positive, it is at least somewhat reassuring that the turnaround time for in-person test results has decreased.

“But the same cannot be said for satellite and home tests – we need to see improvements across the board.

“While our members in some of the worst-affected areas tell us the system is coping for now, if the NHS is to continue to be able to cope, with the added challenges of winter, we will either need to see a swift and significant improvement in the test and trace system, or more draconian measures over even larger parts of the country.

“Staff are doing all they can to bring back routine services alongside treating rising numbers of Covid-19 patients, from primary care to acute hospitals, but if Covid-19 demand continues to follow the same trajectory, it will reduce the ability to deliver other services, which could have repercussions for non-Covid deaths.

“Greater Manchester and London are now facing tougher restrictions; if the rest of the country is to avoid following suit, it is vital that people continue to be patient and to do all they can to help curb the spread.

“At the same time, it is also imperative that the Government heeds scientific advice, and provides very clear communication so that everyone understands what is being asked of us.”

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