North Yorkshire test and trace switch hailed as an early ‘success’

North Yorkshire County Council has launched its own test and trace system after reaching an agreement with Public Health England.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 2:22 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th December 2020, 11:30 pm

Here's the ingenious way Harrogate care home is allowing visitors to meet their loved ones in a safe wayThe authority has followed several others in moving away from the national system to create its own contact tracing process in a bid to curb the spread of infection locally.

Dr Victoria Turner, public health consultant at North Yorkshire County Council, said the new system - which launched last Friday - is aiming to track down people that the national system has been unable to get hold of.

The Covid-19 test and trace system has been criticised nationally for its effectiveness. Picture: Getty Images

She told a briefing of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum that it was too early to say how the system is performing but added the launch was a success. Dr Turner said: “We now have a local contact tracing system up and running which is providing support on those cases that the national test and trace system is unable to contact.

“Cases will still go through the national system first and anyone they fail to reach will be passed onto us. That started live last week so it is still early days - we are still in our first week and it is too early to go into exact figures.

“But we can say we are having some success on the cases that they have been unable to get hold of nationally.

“We have trained up 14 people initially with more on the way to provide the contact tracing support.”

The launch follows criticism that NHS Test and Trace is routinely failing to reach those who have come in contact with an infected person.

Data released last week showed that two-in-five close contacts are still not being reached by the national system. It is thought that this could be because some people are reluctant to answer calls from an unknown number.

Calls under the North Yorkshire system will be made from a local number and carried out by staff at the council’s headquarters in Northallerton.

Dr Turner said she believes the local approach will have more success: “Even in the short time that we have been doing it we have identified some ways in which the local system can really add value.

“One of those areas is from a local perspective being able to go a bit further than just the contact tracing and with local knowledge signpost to services and support to people who need additional help.”

York has also launched its own local system which has reached more than 83% of contacts in its first week.