Covid-19: Central Beds Council takes over test and trace from national NHS team

The scheme could see the time taken for the council to be alerted of new coronavirus cases slashed from up to three day to just one hour

By Laura Hutchinson
Saturday, 20th March 2021, 3:12 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th March 2021, 3:14 pm

Central Bedfordshire Council has become one of the first local authorities in the country to bring contact tracing in-house in a new pilot scheme for local residents, which could see the process cut from up to three days to just one hour.

Contact tracing is a key element of reducing transmission of Covid-19 and allows the local team to offer local support and ensure residents can self-isolate safely during this pandemic.

All local positive cases are directed straight to the council’s team instead of the national track and trace teams. Previous test and trace process could take up to three days for the local team to receive cases. Under the new process the Central Bedfordshire Council team are alerted to new cases just an hour after a positive test.

Central Bedfordshire Council has become one of the first local authorities in the country to bring contact tracing in-house

The new service began this month, where members of the team call each case and complete the Test & Trace questionnaire to identify their close contacts, understand where they may have been infected and ensure they all the necessary support to self-isolate. In the first week, the service received 135 new cases, in which 85 per cent of cases were contacted and information successfully captured and 80 per cent of contacts were successful on the first attempted call.

Prior to the service going to local contact teams, the national team had a completion rate was 64 per cent.

Cllr Tracey Stock, Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing and Communities said: ‘Since taking over from the national team, it really has had a positive impact. Receiving cases so early on means our advisors can make immediate contact and collect the valid information needed for the work we are doing. We can advise them to isolate therefore breaking the chain of infection. We can also support them to complete the self-isolation period including making those who are eligible aware of any financial support grant.

“As a council, we are pleased to be taking part in this pilot scheme. Test and Trace allows us to find people who have the virus and those they may have infected much more quickly. We know our area and our residents best, which means we can react faster and effectively so we can save lives.

“Defeating Covid-19 involves everyone working together at local and national level. The track and trace service is vital to reducing the spread of Covid-19. Therefore, entrusting these powers to local councils is something we fully support.”