NHS Test and Trace turnaround times improving but over 131,000 contacts still not reached Health Foundation response to weekly NHS Test and Trace (England) and coronavirus testing (UK) statistics

5 November 2020

Commenting on Department of Health and Social Care’s NHS Test and Trace (England) and coronavirus testing (UK) statistics (22 October to 28 October) Adam Briggs, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said: 

'Today’s data shows that NHS Test and Trace is still struggling to reach the number of cases and contacts needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While it is no small achievement that 115,660 cases and 196,067 contacts were reached in the week ending 28 October, this still means that more than 24,000 cases and 131,000 contacts – 4 out of 10 contacts identified – weren’t contacted and advised to isolate. Encouragingly, the time between taking a test and getting results is falling and the percentage of cases being contacted within 24 hours has increased to 67%. This is a significant improvement on just 44% the week before. 

'The winter lockdown presents an opportunity to address the underlying difficulties that the system is facing. This includes continuing work to reduce the lag between taking a test and getting results, and in subsequently reaching cases and contacts. The widespread use of rapid test kits may help improve the time it takes to receive test results, but this is still being piloted and not yet available across the country. 

'Local authority contact tracing systems are being set up across the country to manage cases that haven’t been reached within 24 hours by the national team. This local expertise and knowledge will be key to improving the number of cases and contacts reached. The government needs to ensure that these local systems have sufficient staff, as well as financial and technical resources, if they are to play a larger role when working with NHS Test and Trace.

'In addition to improving the responsiveness of the system, those being told to self isolate need to be given adequate social and financial support. No one should be left worse off from needing to self isolate, particularly those who are economically vulnerable and will already be significantly impacted by the lockdown.'

Media contact

Simon Perry
Simon.Perry@health.org.uk
020 7257 2093

Further reading

Chart

NHS Test and Trace performance tracker

Chart

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

Long read

NHS Test and Trace: the journey so far

About 16 mins to read

Long read

Launched at the end of May, NHS Test and Trace is not yet the ‘world-beating’ contact tracing...

You might also like...

Event

Webinar: Levelling up health – a national strategy driven by local government

Event

A panel discussion exploring the role of local government in levelling up health and how national...

Book now

Event

Party conference schedule

Event

The Health Foundation will be holding multiple fringe events and partnering with other organisations...

Press release

Universal Credit cut will hit areas with the worst health hardest

Press release

Health Foundation response to the end of the £20 universal credit uplift.

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

How can the government do things differently to #BuildBackBetter? @KMerrifieldTHF and @GNightingaleTHF take a look… https://t.co/IlXkbxJ5U1

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more