The Socialist 7 October 2020 |
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Contact tracer speaks out: privatised system 'in chaos'
An NHS contact tracer
On Saturday 3 October, at 2pm, I got a text from NHS Professionals: "CALL TO ACTION we have an urgent requirement to fill additional shifts this weekend. Please log on to book into shifts."
I did book four hours on Sunday. For most of the summer, I had very few people who had tested positive for Covid-19 assigned to me to call during shifts, and very few shifts available to book. The past few weeks I've had a few more shifts and three or four calls to make.
On Sunday I had 20! Each call normally takes 30 to 45 minutes, but most aren't answered and go to voicemail.
There were no shifts available on Sunday to book for Monday or Tuesday. But Monday afternoon, I got another text: "URGENT: Test and Trace shifts available for today evening and throughout the day tomorrow."
The privatised and centralised Serco/Sitel system seems to be in chaos. Just about everyone except the government now agrees with what the Socialist has argued from the start - contact tracing should be a locally based, properly funded public service.
Where has the much-vaunted 'efficiency' of profit-run big business got us?
Stop press: local tracing cut back
As the Socialist was going to press, contact tracers had been told not to inform local health protection teams of positive cases who work or attend any educational setting.
Apparently, single cases in these settings - obvious risks for wide spread of the virus - are no longer followed up locally!
As an individual, I can't know whether there's a single or multiple cases in a school or workplace. That's why it needs escalation, so local follow-up can stop the virus spreading.
Even if local teams still somehow receive notification of multiple cases, they will lose the advance warning provided by single cases.