October 23, 2020 1.11 pm This story is over 18 months old

Lincolnshire “should have more control” over test & trace, say health bosses

Complex cases need local expertise

Lincolnshire’s health bosses believe the county should have some control over more complicated test and trace contacts, after the Prime Minister admitted the national system “needs to improve”.

Only 60% of close contacts from positive tests are being reached across the UK, according to the latest available figures.

Meanwhile the number of people getting a test result within 24 hours has dropped from 32.8% to 15.1%.

During Thursday’s coronavirus briefing, Mr Johnson said: “I share people’s frustrations and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we need to improve it.

“We need to make sure that people who do get a positive test self-isolate — that’s absolutely crucial if this thing is going to work in the way that it can.”

Tony McGinty, assistant director of public health at Lincolnshire County Council, said the situation in Lincolnshire was “pretty similar” to the rest of the country, but that it’s “taking longer than we would want” for people to get their results.

However, he said test and trace contacts were performing “slightly better” than the national average.

Some local councils have called for more control over test and trace.

“We should have a combination model where the large volume of quite straightforward test and trace interactions should be done at a national level just because of economies of scale,” said Mr McGinty

“But every local authority should be enabled to run a local part of the system to make sure we are spotting problems with the way the national system is performing and taking more complicated local issues forward ourselves.”

This could include cases where, for instance, a patient works zero-hours contract in a factory, but who may work a second job in a care home or whose partners work in schools or childcare.

“It needs local knowledge of the businesses, schools, or transport networks to be able to properly follow it through, so that that is an example where a local, a local part of the national test trail system would do a much better job than the national or international system to do,” said Mr McGinty.

Earlier today Mr McGinty said: “I believe that more areas of the country, including potentially some areas of Lincolnshire, may be asked to consider going up a tier, or we may decide that we simply need to go up to tier to get to get additional control measures in place.

“That will be happening all over the country over the coming weeks now.” It is understood this could happen by the end of November.”