Test & Trace employees watching Netflix and knitting because there's nothing to do

25 June 2020, 13:19 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

Track & Trace employees tell LBC how little they have to do

Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

As it's revealed that the Track & Trace system is getting worse, two employees told LBC how little they are being asked to do for their job.

In March, when Boris Johnson rallied the call for tens of thousands of contact tracers, he promised they'd be a part of a 'world beating system.'

Many of the people I’ve spoken to who signed up, tell me they were really hopeful. They already had clinical skills, but wanted to expand their skillset into contact tracing, and be a part of team helping to lift the country out of lockdown.

But now, they're disappointed and disillusioned, with next to nothing to do.

Roger told LBC: "There's hardly any work. We get maybe one call a day, and then when you do get that call, you phone them up, and no one picks up."

It's even worse for Holly, who has worked between 60 and 708 hours so far and has had only "one call, which went to voicemail". She can't believe she still hasn't spoken to a single person.

She says she just sits there for hours on shifts, refreshing the page and picking up her knitting to pass the time. Roger has been watching a lot of Netflix.

The UK's track and trace scheme has come under fire
The UK's track and trace scheme has come under fire. Picture: PA

Holly also tells me she's paid a good amount for the work: "The pay rate goes between 17 and 27 pounds an hour.

"Appalling really, it's really sad. Because I think we're all paying all this money to get back to a normal way of living. And we're just not getting the work to do it.

"I can't complain about the pay. But I don't feel like I'm earning it, because I'm not."

Matt Hancock and Dido Harding are in charge of the Track & Trace programme
Matt Hancock and Dido Harding are in charge of the Track & Trace programme. Picture: PA

While Roger says, even on the rare occasion when they DO get a job through - the public aren't always receptive.

One man spoke to him perfectly well about his family and contacts, but as soon as he was told he'd now have to self-isolate for 14 days, he suddenly pretended to not speak any English and hung up the phone.

"I tried to escalate it and to go to a higher person, but no body picked up," Roger said.

Another thing that has surprised the both of them, is the fact that on their script of prescribed questions is one about the non-existed coronavirus app.

Originally, we were promised this would be rolled out in mid-May, but it's been delayed after the Government spent millions of pounds to find it didn't work.

Holly said: "One of the questions as you go through is, 'have you been using the NHS app?' But they can't have done because it doesn't exist!"

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social care told LBC: “The new NHS Test and Trace service is up and running and is helping save lives. Anyone in this country can now book a test and the majority who book a test get the results back within a day.

“We have over 27,000 contact tracers in place, who have all been trained and are fully supported in their work by public health experts.

“The public has taken their civic duty during the pandemic extremely seriously, and we need everyone to continue playing their part.”

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