Put local test and trace teams in charge, says Labour
Put local test and trace teams in charge, says Labour

Labour is calling for public health teams to trace people who have been in contact with Covid-positive people.

Labour Group leader Susan Dungworth said: “Our public health teams’ day job is to identify and track contacts. When Covid landed, the government decided they were not the people who should do this and set up NHS Track and Trace. Costing billions and proving to be ineffective, NHS Track and Trace has not stopped the virus spreading. Local teams who know the areas they serve and far better placed to do this work. Nationally the government put barriers in the way of this work and lives have been lost as a result.”

Labour is calling for:  

  • an end the top-down, centralised model for testing, tracing and isolating once and for all. Local teams must be put in charge – it’s local knowledge and boots to the ground that are crucial in driving a successful system. Contact tracing and requests for isolation must be locally led, and the government must hand over responsibility from Serco to local teams who know their area.
  • routine testing for all high-risk workplaces and high transmission areas. Routine testing for NHS and care staff is welcome, but others like retail and hospitality staff should all have access to tests whenever they need them. And it should be a government priority for testing to be used to allow families to safely visit their loved ones in care homes.

    Susan Dungworth continued: “It’s typical of this government not to trust local teams. While we appreciate there was a need to for the government to assume control  this did not mean they had to run things themselves. Local authority directors of public health and their teams are used to this work. They know their areas and the people who live on them. It would have been afar better to support their work than set up a project from scratch which, quite clearly, is not working and has come at a huge cost to the taxpayer.

    “We need the government to allow public health teams to get on with their work and be appropriately supported in doing so.

    “The government also needs to ensure all key workers, especially those supporting communities and keeping essential shops open, have rapid access to testing.”

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