Calderdale Council bids to take over test and trace system from national scheme

Calderdale Council has asked the NHS if it can take over the test and trace system for the borough from the national system.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 4:21 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 4:22 pm

Calderdale Council was one of the pioneers of local test and trace a year ago and councillors heard it has operated very successfully amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Now Director of Public Health, Debs Harkins, says the authority has asked to take over the running of the scheme in its entirety in Calderdale.

She told members of the council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board that the council was now just waiting on a reply.

NHS Test and Trace
NHS Test and Trace

“We continue to take on more responsibility from national test and trace.

“Now we speak to contacts as well as cases.

“We were part of the pilot, it has gone really well and we have formally requested to NHS test and trace that we take on all test and tracing, right from day one when people get their positive test,” she said.

Coun Stephanie Clarke (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said she understood a lot of the test and trace staff were voluntary and asked if the council thought it had the capacity to handle it all, particularly if there was a third upsurge of the virus in the future.

Ms Harkins said: “We have formally requested taking it on, we haven’t heard of we will be able to do it but we are quite confident we have got the capacity to do that.”

The council had a contingency plan in place, with further capacity available to operate the service if it was needed, she said.

Ms Harkins said, as of April 8, 104,461 people in Calderdale had been vaccinated, with 121,846 – accounting for some people receiving their second doses – vaccinations completed.

Ninety four per cent of Calderdale’s over 50s have received a vaccination.

Ms Harkins said 95 per cent of residents in care homes had taken up the offer of a vaccination, with 57 per cent having had their second vaccination.

So far 73 per cent of care home staff had taken up the offer of a vaccination.

Of the over 80s, 95 per cent of people had had a vaccination and take up levels for those over 70 was 89 per cent, 85 per cent among the 55-59 age group and 81 per cent among the 50-54 age group.

Overall, even in areas of Calderdale with lower take up, the take-up rate was between 70 and 80 per cent, said Ms Harkins, with pop-up clinics playing a successful role.

COVID-19 cases were falling in all age groups at the moment, highest rates being in the 5-10s and 11-16s age groups, while the really good news was a big significant reduction on those over age 60, which now had rate down to 17 per 100,000 people (50 per 100,000 across all groups).

Ms Harkins said when Calderdale went into full lockdown it had done so with a higher case rate than many other areas.

An increase in positive cases a few weeks ago was linked to the very large numbers of particularly young people returning to school being tested, she said.