Contact Tracing: Computer Software

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 3rd July 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP Committee, Chair, Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has made for communications through the covid-19 track and trace system with people who are not English speakers.

Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Holding answer received on 17 June 2020

The Government launched NHS Test and Trace for England on 28 May 2020.

We aim to ensure that NHS Test and Trace is accessible for all groups in society. Equality assessments have been undertaken to inform policy decisions to implement the service and, in line with our legal duties, we continue to assess impact as NHS Test and Trace is rolled out. We will make ongoing improvements to ensure the service is fully inclusive and accessible to all.

Information and guidance about NHS Test and Trace follows the GOV.UK accessibility standards, but we intend to ensure it is also available in other languages. We are seeking to put in place translation services at testing sites, and the NHS 119 call centre uses the Language Line interpreter service and staff are trained to manage language barriers, including through use of this service.

The online contact tracing platform, and the NHS COVID-19 app are currently only available in English, but we have ensured the use of simple, plain English and are working towards making this available in other languages in future. Currently, for non-English speaking cases and contacts if they cannot complete the online tool, they are referred to contact tracers who have access to translation services which should be used if necessary. Further work is ongoing to refine the customer journey for these users as call handlers will not be aware of special requirements ahead of making a call.

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