NHS Test and Trace is essential in our fight against COVID-19, especially as we gradually ease restrictions in accordance with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Regular testing and contact tracing will be vital to ensuring the case rate remains low as we resume our daily lives.
I firmly support the Government’s decision to spend £22 billion on this crucial service in 2020-21, with an additional £15 billion budgeted for 2021-22. 80% of NHS Test and Trace’s budget is spent on buying and carrying out coronavirus tests, with the remainder spent on contact tracing and other areas of the programme.
Thanks to these efforts, the UK has the largest testing capacity in Europe, with PCR test capacity standing at 800,000 per day. NHS Test and Trace is successfully reaching over 90% of the contacts of positive cases, with 98% of them being contacted within 24 hours. While I have no doubt that all contracts will be reviewed appropriately, I do not believe that it would be right to radically change NHS Test and Trace at this point.
I would, however, also like to pay tribute to the efforts of local contact tracing teams, in particular those at Stockport Council, whose highly successful programme has been especially vital in controlling the case rate in our area. All 314 local authorities in England have joined forces with NHS Test and Trace to provide an enhanced contact tracing service, which combines the local knowledge of local teams with the resilience of a national Test and Trace system.