10 Downing Street
12th November 2020
Re: Fix the failing COVID-19 testing system - petition
Dear Prime Minister
I am writing to share the significant concern expressed by my constituents - and many others around the country - about the performance of the current COVID Test and Trace programme.
It has been evident for some time that the current arrangements, badged as ‘NHS’, but in reality run by a handful of private companies, are failing. The system is not only failing but getting worse, with the latest data reporting only a 59.9% success rate at finding close contacts compared to 97% for locally run systems according to the Local Government Association.
People are having to wait days for their test results to be returned, leaving them worried and isolated, and with huge knock-on consequences for businesses, schools and other workplaces.
The proportion of contacts of people testing positive that are reached has consistently fallen below the level needed, and the targets set - and is in fact getting worse, rather than better, over time.
Meanwhile, it is evident that the support measures necessary to help people with positive tests isolate in compliance with the rules are lacking. In consequence, even those who are tested or traced are still frequently not fully isolating.
As the signatories to the enclosed petition make clear, the current situation is untenable. These petitioners have some simple requests: that testing is easily available; that test results are returned within 24 hours; and, most crucially, that tracing be returned to the hands of local public health officials, with the expertise and experience, not only of dealing with infectious disease, but also of the nuances of their local communities.
It is a source of significant regret that the Test, Trace, Isolate and Support system was not made fit for purpose before the end of the first lockdown, and while cases were relatively low over the summer. I trust that your Government will take the opportunity afforded by this second England-wide lockdown to address these issues as a matter of the utmost priority.
Caroline Lucas MP
The petition is here