Key points

  • COVID-19 continues to expose and exacerbate inequalities within society. The NHS Test and Trace system needs to play ​its part in ensuring these inequalities are not increased ​further.
  • People must be supported to isolate at home while being sure they will not be any worse off for doing so.
  • Any rollout of asymptomatic testing needs to involve local Directors of Public Health in both design and implementation.
  • Without action, inequalities may be further exacerbated for those already affected the most in this pandemic.

At the Health Foundation, we have written about the development of NHS Test and Trace through to September 2020, documenting the challenges it faced and lessons learnt. We also provided detailed input to the National Audit Office’s interim report on NHS Test and Trace published in December 2020. This submission summarises our current view of some of the challenges faced by NHS Test and Trace from January 2021 onwards.

Our submission focuses on three areas where NHS Test and Trace can help to break chains of transmission: being tested, contact tracing, and isolation. It also explores asymptomatic testing and the role of local authorities in supporting people in their local populations to use and benefit from rapid testing and mass testing, particularly in more deprived communities.

Further reading


NHS Test and Trace performance tracker


Our analysis on the performance of NHS Test and Trace from 1 October 2020 to 5 May 2021.

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NHS Test and Trace: the journey so far

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