National test and trace “not working” says Lincolnshire public health boss
New lockdown measures show that the national test and trace programme “is not working,” say Lincolnshire health bosses.
Professor Derek Ward, director of public health at Lincolnshire County Council, said a localised system would be “more responsive” and foster trust from residents.
He is calling on government to consider the latest lockdown as a chance to “reset” the system and pass more funding and resources to local teams.
Professor Ward said: “The fundamental problem with the national system is that it’s remote and doesn’t go back far enough.”
“Here’s a chance over the next four weeks to get a contact tracing programme that really allows us to stamp out the virus, as it flares up.
“At the moment, the fact that we’re back into another circuit breaker has demonstrated that it’s not working the way it would need to.”
Under Professor Ward’s plans, local teams would interview positive cases on the phone about their most recent history and who they had been in contact with.
He would also want to be able to ask asymptomatic people to get tests which they can’t do at the moment.
This, he said, would be “a lot more surgical and targeted”.
“Generally people will talk to the local public health team. They see a Lincolnshire number, they know that we are professionals, we are registered, they will talk to us, we’ll get more details,” said Professor Ward.
He accepted it would still not be perfect, however, added: “If we got [those resources] I’m confident, come towards the end of this lockdown, we would have the capacity to do a proper infection prevention control and health protection programme of contact tracing.
“I think those things, together, once the numbers come down, would be a really good way for me to keep our figures very low.”