I am a clinical contact worker for test and trace. Dr David Maisey (Letters, 1 November) should realise that the clinical level (tier 2) of contact tracers – those who call the cases themselves – has been made up of clinical staff at a band 6 level or higher since the beginning, with GPs welcome to join. We have a wealth of clinical experience. The strict instructions to adhere to scripts and policies mean we are not allowed to use it. It’s only recently that the call handler level employees were moved up. This is exploitative and stressful for them and dismissive of those of us with clinical training.
Clinical staff have been highlighting from the beginning that there is a problem with families getting too many phone calls. Last week, we received another email from above reminding us that we must follow the policy and get names and numbers for every member of a household until such time as Public Health England/the government change the policy. This is due to limitations in the computer program and, no doubt, to do with the initial privacy concerns, so that no record is matched up with another record.
I agree the system is inefficient and wasteful. We struggle with poor technology, poor training, poor communication from above – we are also told not to contact PHE directly – and almost complete absence of clear management structure. This is not the fault of the army of skilled clinical workers and unskilled call handlers who are working tirelessly to reach an increasingly hostile and frightened populace.
Put the blame where it belongs – the people at the very top making political decisions without regard for, or experience in, public health.
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• Your correspondents correctly cite many reasons for the failure of current test-and-trace systems run by private contractors. In parts of Lancashire, local authority initiatives seem to be enjoying far greater success. Preston city council set up a small six-strong team that traced hundreds of people whom outsourced agencies had failed to contact within the 24-hour window.
They made contact with over 650 individuals, about a third of whom were notified by home visits. Their overall success rate of 73% indicates that a far more effective approach to breaking chains of transmission can be achieved by deploying dedicated local authority staff.