Greens call on government to give ‘test and trace’ to local public health teams

The coronavirus test and trace system should be run by local public health experts, according to councillors as they call on the government to change tack.

Green councillor Clare Rainey is due to propose a motion about the way that contact tracing is handled at a meeting on Thursday (22 October).

The motion calls on Brighton and Hove City Council chief executive Geoff Raw – working with director of public health Alistair Hill – to write to the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

She also wants Mr Raw to urge the government to work with local leaders so that they can shape any local lockdown measures.

Her motion is due to be debated at a “virtual” meeting of the full council on Thursday.

She said: “Figures show national contact tracing reached only 64.3 per cent of cases in the week ending (Wednesday) 23 September while local teams reached 97.6 per cent of the cases they handled.

“Private labs given responsibility for processing test swabs were unable to meet demand, leading government to ‘prioritise’, causing a huge backlog and delay in data, with local residents given no test option close to home.

“Further, a data error led to 16,000 cases of covid-19 going unrecorded and untraced.”

Last month people across Brighton and Hove struggled to secure a test centre appointment or home testing kit, with many directed miles away to the Isle of Wight or even further afield.

The Association of Directors of Public Health has urged the government to collaborate with local areas to improve the test and trace system.

Test and trace boss Baroness Dido Harding promised to redeploy 12,000 contract tracers, according to Councillors Rainey’s motion but, she said, they have not materialised.

The Green councillor also cited the concerns of council leaders in the north who said that they were given little notice or support ahead lockdown.

Councillor Clare Rainey

She called for Mr Raw to write to government ministers to ask for a national public report into the effects of lockdown on people’s quality of life and mental health – as well as the impact on livelihoods, rising redundancies and the end of furlough.

She said: “Lockdown impacts include an increase of 50 per cent of calls to domestic abuse helplines, increase in isolation and associated mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, increased pressure on care-givers, increased reliance on screen-based activities and social media, anxiety about job and financial security and there are concerns regarding an increase in suicide rates.”

The meeting of the full council is due to start at 4.30pm on Thursday (22 October). It is scheduled to be webcast on the council website.

  1. Angela T Reply

    No thank you. The Greens need to do the basics well first. The City looks a state and jobs will go if the town centre is not cleaned up. No graffiti, dirty roads and junkies begging on every corner please. If they can’t even do this we don’t want them in charge of other policies or NHS testing. They have also shown what a disaster they are with their unwanted bike lanes etc. Please no more power until they win the trust back of the public which they have long way to go on doing.

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