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June 25, 2021
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Statement: Response to second NAO report on NHS Test and Trace

Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, President, Association of Directors of Public Health

This is a valuable report and the Association of Directors of Public Health welcomed the opportunity to represent the views of Directors of Public Health during the stakeholder interviews phase.

There have been notable improvements in the functioning and performance of the Test and Trace Service, for instance in respect of engagement and data sharing with local authorities. However, fundamental challenges have hindered the response to COVID-19 such as the lack of an overarching strategy linking the test, trace, isolate and support elements, slow delegation of tracing to local councils, limited resources to support local action – particularly in areas of enduring transmission – and insufficient progress in securing the level of self-isolation payments that are essential.

As the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) develops there is a new opportunity to strengthen the partnership between local, regional and national parts of the health protection system. The upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review must deliver a long-term funding boost for health protection capacity in local councils to ensure Directors of Public Health can carry out their responsibilities effectively.

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