Local Contact Tracing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:36 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 4:36 pm, 14th October 2020

The hon. Gentleman is correct to say we have provided £8 per head, giving Liverpool some £14 million to assist with its local public health attack on the virus and to help drive down the rates. Tier 3 local authorities get that help. The Government will work with local areas to accelerate local roll-out and to allow conversations to be ongoing, with additional money to protect vital services. Further details, I am sure, will come from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in time.

As I said, it is untrue that public health experts are not there front and centre. There are about 1,000 tier 1 contact tracers working within the core contact tracing system in health protection teams and field services across the country. More local recruitment is under way. We have more than doubled the size of local health protection teams since the pandemic began. The next layer of the test and trace contact tracing services is NHS clinicians, who signed up to contact people who have tested positive and talk them through the process to find out where individuals have been and who they may have been in contact with. Those clinicians do the most phenomenal job every day, stepping forward with their wealth of expertise to assist.

Today’s motion refers to local contact tracing and that has, in fact, been getting rolled out to local authorities across the country since August of this year. Has it always gone seamlessly? Has it always been perfect? I am always the first at this Dispatch Box to say that nothing ever does, much as we may want it to. Nothing ever does. We put the best efforts into making sure that individuals at a local level are supported in this difficult work every day.