Call for Lanarkshire to recruit more contact tracers

An MSP has called for more contact tracers to be recruited in Lanarkshire.

Friday, 9th October 2020, 10:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 12:11 pm
Central Scotland list MSP Monica Lennon
Central Scotland list MSP Monica Lennon

According to latest Scottish Government statistics, there are just 31 contact tracers in the region – less than every mainland health board except NHS Highland and NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

NHS Lanarkshire is the third-biggest health board in Scotland behind NHS Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which have three and six times the number of tracers respectively.

Central Scotland list MSP Monica Lennon, who is Labour’s shadow health minister, has urged the Scottish Government to bring in more in a bid to reach its own target.

There are 874 contact tracers in Scotland – 1126 less than the target of 2000.

Ms Lennon said: “The number of contact tracers recruited falls short of what the Scottish Government promised, and is a drop in the ocean of what is required to effectively manage this virus.

“Instead of drawing on the wide pool of people who applied for the roles, NHS staff are doubling-up as contact tracers and this has further slowed down the restart of health services.

“The rise in Covid-19 cases is deeply worrying, and it concerns me that our health board only has 31 tracers. It’s vital that people are notified rapidly if they need to self-isolate, but too many of my constituents have already experienced significant delays.

“I have asked the Scottish Government to urgently increase contact tracers for Lanarkshire and the rest of Scotland, as we must do everything possible to protect lives and livelihoods.”

In a written answer, health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Prior to the formal launch of the Test and Protect system, we asked all NHS Scotland boards to collectively make available up to 2000 staff to participate in contact tracing activity.

“As acknowledged at the time, the resource was provided substantially from existing workforce and it was recognised that not all would be required at any one time.

“We keep contact tracing capacity under active review, in line with modelling undertaken by Public Health Scotland, with all boards required to maintain a total national capacity commensurate with demand.

“In management information collated on September 10, approximately 874 staff capable of undertaking contact tracing activity, were available for deployment across NHS Scotland territorial boards and the National Contact Tracing Centre (NCTC).

“The recruitment position is subject to ongoing change, in line with the national modelling picture, and where local service composition changes as a result of the mobilisation of other NHS services.

“Recruitment to the NCTC is on-going, in addition to existing staffing, further recruitment to the centre for 85 WTE started on September 7.

“We continue to make use of the pipeline of candidates identified through national recruitment, with 300 shortlisted applicants currently concluding the interview process.

“Additionally, a further 25 staff are being recruited by early October to focus on work to follow-up with people who are quarantining after arriving into Scotland from non-exempt countries.”