Bradford Council’s Public Health team have hailed the launch of a new local level contact tracing model a huge success.

The model, which supports the National NHS test and trace programme aims to allow local authorities to use their own local expertise and resources to increase the proportion of people reached by the national Test and Trace programme. Bradford was one of the first 10 Local Authorities in the country to start Local Test and Trace.

With COVID-19 infection rates in Bradford still high, increased community engagement has been key in containing the virus, particularly in areas with the highest numbers of positive cases.

Since the start of the local contact tracing programme in August, Bradford has seen an increase in the number of local contact tracers and of people being reached.  The proportion of all those who have been successfully contacted following a positive Covid-19 test result has gone from 73% to 86%. The 86% contact rate exceeds the target set by Public Health England of 80% overall success rate. All locally gathered information is fed back into the one National central Test and Trace database.

Contact tracing helps to identify those people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore are at a high risk of infection.

If you test positive for coronavirus, NHS Test and Trace will send you a text or email alert or call you with instructions of how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited.  People will be asked to either share this information online via a secure website or will be called by one of the contact tracers.  If NHS Test and Trace contact tracers are unable to contact positive cases within 24 hours, they then pass contact details of these cases onto the local authority contact tracers to follow up by phone or in person.

The team of contact tracers in Bradford will then make contact via telephone and if they are still  unable to make contact, then they will make face to face visits providing advice and support on keeping safe by staying at home and self-isolating.

These teams of local ‘contact tracers’ are trained to support the national NHS Test and Trace team by calling, texting and visiting the homes of people who have tested positive for the virus. They will talk with people who have tested positive, and ask them who they may have come into close contact with and who might need themselves to self-isolate.

Bradford has recruited 60 contact tracers over the past months, both full-time and part-time, and the team is now making approximately 180 calls a day.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council said:

“Local contact tracing has allowed us to reach out to those people that the national team were unable to contact. Identifying people and contacts who have Covid-19 is crucial and allows us to help minimise the spread of the infection, so it is very welcome news that our teams have been able to contact and contribute to such a high percentage of people. It will help in our efforts to combat the virus. I want to thank the teams for all the valuable work they are doing.

“We need to continue to push the message, if anyone does test positive, please play your part and make sure you self-isolate to prevent the spread to others.  We all know this virus can kill. The local contact tracing programme is a critical element of our work in Bradford. It goes alongside a wide range of other initiatives the Council and its partners are doing to slow the spread of the virus and save lives so that we can ease restrictions and return to more normal lives.”

Dr. Mark Evans, Consultant in Health Protection, who is leading on the Local Contact Tracing programme for Bradford said:

“We have built up a team of Local Contact tracers over the last few months who have been working hard to reach those that the national Test & Trace team could not contact. We have actually exceeded the national target set and want to continue to strengthen the team to  allow more door to door visits in the future. This is to support those who need to self isolate and at the same time  collect details from those not reached previously”