Monday 10 August 2020 6:20 pm

NHS Test and Trace to cut 6,000 staff

The government plans to cut 6,000 staff from the NHS Test and Trace scheme by the end of August, it said today.

Those who are left — approximately 12,000 employees — will work alongside local public health teams to reach more people who could be infected and increase their contacts in communities.

The tactic is already being used in hotspots such as Blackburn on Darwen and Leicester. It will be rolled out to any area where councils are responsible for local public health.

Launched in May by the NHS and private contractors Serco and Sitel, the scheme has had setbacks ranging from scrapping a promised mobile app to reports of tracers having nothing to do.

Read more: UK records another 816 positive coronavirus cases

Staff on the scheme are either NHS clinicians or people who were trained to become contact tracers. Those who are already NHS staff will not be laid off.

The remaining non-NHS call handlers will be redeployed as part of dedicated local test and trace teams, separate from the national Test and Trace scheme.

So far staff in local public health teams have had more success in reaching those with potential infections, with those dealing with factory or care home outbreaks reaching more than 90 per cent of the people on their list.

However the national NHS Test and Trace call centres have been much less successful, with contact rates falling since it reached its highest point of 70 per cent in July.

Read more: Test and trace scheme misses 20 per cent of coronavirus patients

It comes as the UK reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases yesterday, the first time it passed the thousand-mark since late June.

The daily case numbers also remained high today, recording 816 new positive coronavirus tests.

A total of 311,641 people have now tested positive for coronavirus. More than 46,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the UK, the highest death toll in Europe.