What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of covid-19 contact tracing at (a) national and (b) local authority level.
I am pleased to report that the strong recent performance of the contact tracing service has been maintained, even with the significant growth in cases. The latest weekly data show that the service made contact with almost 700,000 people: 85% of positive cases were reached and provided details of their close contacts, and 92% of those close contacts—that is almost half a million people—were then reached and told to self-isolate.
I was asking the director of public health in Sheffield the other day about the figures for contact tracing. He says that in the NHS Test and Trace system—not the Public Health England one, but the NHS one—the current figures are 59%, and the 40% not contacted are passed on down to the local level, the city council’s contact tracing service, which is then contacting 75% of the people the national system could not contact. Why, then, do the Government not give more resources and more responsibility to the local council and the director of public health? In that way, we could contact more people at far less cost than the national system.
The hon. Member has described, in fact, what is a really important partnership working between the national NHS Test and Trace system and local partners such as local authorities, as indeed is happening in his own area of Sheffield, where it is that combined working that enables us to contact the maximum number of people and therefore to get more people to self-isolate and break these chains of transmission.