Test and Trace chief adviser admits contact turnaround time is "not good enough"

2 November 2020, 08:42 | Updated: 2 November 2020, 08:48

By Fiona Jones

NHS Test and Trace chief medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins admitted the results turnaround time between positive tests and being contacted is "not good enough" as Nick Ferrari confronted her on the system's effectiveness.

Thousands of people were not contacted by the Test and Trace app because it was set at the wrong sensitivity level, reports have revealed.

The app has systematically failed to send alerts telling people to self-isolate for a month as the Department of Health and Social Care did not use the software developed to make the app work properly.

Dr Susan Hopkins told LBC that the Test and Trace app is "performing better every day" as the amount of people contacted per day has gone from 5,000 in September to 20,000 now.

Nick Ferrari quoted figures which showed that towards the end of October the system failed to reach 40% of the close contacts identified by people who tested positive.

Dr Hopkins explained that the system texts all people who have a test to self-isolate, then there is a phone call with those testing positive where contacts are gathered - she pointed out that it is very difficult to contact people when there are no details given.

Nick asked the chief medical adviser how satisfactory the turnaround times are between positive tests and people being contacted.

"They're getting better but they're still not good enough," she said, "we would like to be able to have 80% of people getting a turnaround time of their test results within 24 hours."

Nick quoted more figures, which show that less than half of are currently hitting that target, meaning people may be losing faith in the system.

Dr Hopkins acknowledged this and pointed out that as there are 500,000 tests a day available for the population, "that will allow us to increase the turnaround time."

As England goes into lockdown from Thursday, Nick asked the chief medical adviser what she aims to see happen to the Test and Trace system - this is after Labour has repeatedly called for its improvement.

"We will continue to work with our local authorities and public health colleagues and improve the local to national contact tracing system to allow the system to be as localised as possible in as many areas as possible in the country," Dr Hopkins said, adding she will also be working with public health directors to establish how to improve testing in each area.

An aim is to ensure people get results "on the same day", she told LBC.