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Lambeth Council brings COVID-19 contract tracing in-house

Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Lambeth Council has become the first London borough to bring all COVID-19 contact tracing in-house in a new pilot scheme.

Lambeth Council brings COVID-19 contract tracing in-house

The council has recruited and trained new teams of tracers to work with residents to track contacts who may have been exposed to the virus.

The new 'Local 0' scheme, launched this week, will mean residents who have tested positive for Covid-19 will be contacted by a local contact tracer instead of NHS Test and Trace.

The council says it will drastically reduce the amount of time required to track cases and provide a more efficient response to further outbreaks if they arise.

Under the previous national contact tracing system it could take between two to three days for positive cases to be passed from Public Health England to local teams.

The Local 0 scheme means those returning a positive test will now be called immediately by Lambeth's own contact tracers.

It is anticipated that the council will directly deal with up to five times the number of Covid-19 cases as a result of taking control of test and trace.

The pilot follows the council carrying out two separate enhanced testing programmes after single cases of the Covid-19 variant first detected in South Africa were found in West Norwood and Oval.

Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) were deployed offering PCR testing, while home testing kits were also delivered door to door.

The council also passed a motion in January urging the Government to devolve contact tracing to town halls to fill gaps in the national system.

Cllr Jim Dickson, Lambeth's cabinet member health and social care, said: "As a council we are pleased to be the first London council to be part of this pilot scheme.

"Our recent work around Operation Eagle in the South and North of the borough has shown how effective this local approach can be.

"We hope to build on this strong performance and our existing links with Public Health England, the NHS and partner agencies to identify and suppress any future outbreaks as they occur.

"We believe that early identification of person-to-person transmission is vital to reducing the number of Covid-19.

"Therefore, devolving these powers to local councils is something we fully support.

"Lambeth Council and its partners have worked tirelessly to build up its specialist contact tracing teams to ensure we have the capacity to deal with a higher volume of cases.

"We have built a fantastic team of tracers and have refined our approach throughout the pandemic.

"We know our area and our residents best which means we can react faster and effectively so we can save lives.

"We look forward to working with our counterparts in government to ensure we receive the correct resources to provide support for residents and make our communities safer."

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