Members of of the Council’s Executive approved the funding for a more localised system at a meeting this week.
Nationally test and trace was set up to contact people who may have been in close contact with people who have since tested positive for Covid-19.
However there has been criticism of the effectiveness of the national programme, and a recent report revealed that in Bradford 27 per cent of cases and 58 per cent of contacts have been “lost to follow up” by the system.
Bradford Council announced plans to set up its own localised test and trace programme last month – which the authority said would involve a greater local knowledge.
A report to the Executive predicts any local system would deal with around 10 people per day.
It added: “In the absence of a vaccine, the most important measures for reducing spread of the virus is strict isolation of cases and close monitoring of their contacts in case they become infected. A local contact tracing service will help return life more to normal for Bradford and its residents, in a way that is safe and protects NHS, social care and other key operators. The service will be a critical part of the effort to contain COVID-19 and will provide the ability to trace the spread, isolate new infections and give early warning if the virus is increasing.”
The national test and trace system will be able to contact the local service if that are unable to contact people after 24 hours. If people cannot be contacted by phone, local workers will visit their home to make contact.
The Executive agree to fund the local test and trace system to the tune of £1.6m. That will fund the service for 12 months and provide 30 contact tracers and two team leaders.
At the meeting, which was held virtually on Tuesday, Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “How many times have I asked the Government to pay for test and trace?
“I don’t understand why they aren’t willing to pay for local test and trace. They seem to be able to find money for a national system but when it comes to local authorities the money is still not there.
“I genuinely don’t understand why they won’t pay for test and trace and we will have to fund it out of our own coffers.
“It is vital to getting the infection rate down.
“We need to make sure people who have the infection are aware of their obligations. If someone in your household has it the chances are you have it or are about to get it – so it is important you stay indoors. Local test and trace will be very helpful to get that message across.”
Councillor Mike Pollard (Cons, Baildon) questioned funding the system for 12 months, suggesting a seven month plan would be more sensible.
He said the compliance to test and trace in Bradford has been “pretty woeful” adding: “If it hasn’t proved its worth within six months it isn’t likely to.”
Chief Executive Kersten England said: “If there is no vaccine it is likely that local contact tracing will be required for at least a year.” She said it would be impracticle to employ and train staff for a seven month period.
Cllr Hinchcliffe added: “I met someone a couple of weeks ago who said it will all be gone by May. I jolly well hope that is the case, but as leaders we have to plan to make sure we go beyond that and keep the district working and safe well beyond May.”