Responding to the latest NHS test and trace figures, Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said:
“There have been some small improvements in the test and trace figures week-on-week, such as the decrease in turnaround times for test results and an increase in testing capacity. But the fact remains that the percentage of people identified as close contacts who were reached and asked to self-isolate continues to fall, while cases have now more than quadrupled since the end of August, meaning the virus is likely to continue to spread widely. Couple that with a spike in intensive care admissions and all the attendant pressures of winter, and the NHS is in a very precarious position.
“Now more than ever, the country needs a test and trace system that is absolutely watertight, especially as more and more people are referred to contact tracing, with a commensurate increase in the number of close contacts who must be successfully traced if the system is to work. It’s also vital that access to testing matches capacity, especially for health and care staff, so that they can continue to provide both routine and COVID-related services, and help to mitigate growth in the backlog of treatment.
“Until we see the major improvements needed across this system, our exhausted and overstretched NHS staff will need as much support as the public can muster, following guidance and maintaining social distancing measures to help contain the spread of the virus.”