New NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 pilot programme starts in Cheshire West and Chester

21 April 2021

Cheshire West and Chester Council has launched a pilot scheme with NHS Test and Trace to help reach people who have tested positive for Coronavirus sooner and offer them the support they need to self-isolate.

The joint initiative brings the Council in from the start of the tracing journey, at the same time the case is entered into the national NHS Test and Trace system.

Council contact tracers now contact the individual directly rather than the national service and are responsible for instructing the individual to self-isolate. 

The team is also able to provide support to people who have tested positive and for members of their households who have to self-isolate – making sure people have all they need to stay indoors for 10 days.

The pilot scheme helps to ensure that the team at the Council are able to use local knowledge and expertise to determine where people may have caught the virus, which will help identify possible local outbreaks. 

Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Since November last year our team of local contact tracers have been working on the cases that the national NHS Test and Trace service was not able to contact within 24 hours.

“This has had a great impact already. Our local team reaches those people who are more difficult to get hold of and helps to make sure they have everything they need to self-isolate successfully and break the chains of transmission.

“Not only are our local team faster but we have seen that one in four of those they have spoken to have benefited from additional support and signposting for such help as finance, mental health and wellbeing.

“Being a part of this pilot means we can get involved from the very beginning and are able to make the most of our local knowledge to offer the right support to people, as well as spot patterns and local outbreaks.”

The team prides itself on building relationships with those they contact and helping people work out what they might need to be able to self-isolate for the full 10 days, from financial support to advice on shopping.

Local contact tracer Angela said: “We’re here to make sure you’re ok and safe and see if there’s anything you need.

“Some people don’t know where to go for help but we can let them know where to go for local support while they self-isolate.

“All anyone wants is for us to get back to normal and that’s the result of all of this.”

The team of contact tracers are based at Wyvern House, in Winsford, and all hail from within the borough.

Kev, who started working with the team earlier this year, said: “The most rewarding thing is that you’re helping your local community.

“I live in Northwich and this is a way of making a significant impact on my doorstep.

“I think in general that the public are adhering to the rules but anything that we can do to minimise the risk is a massive benefit and, because we live in the borough, for us it’s personal.”

Fellow contact tracer Lucy said: “I wanted to do something to improve the pandemic and turn things around.

“People sometimes ask why we need the information we ask for and I say that we’re looking for trends, not to point fingers – if we can spot trends and outbreaks we can contribute to the effort to contain the virus.”

Anyone in Cheshire West and Chester who tests positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by the team during their 10-day period of self-isolation and is urged to work with the service to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

An online pack is also available to residents to help them through the self-isolation period and also to plan ahead for if they have to self-isolate.
This includes information on when and how to self-isolate, how to avoid spreading the virus at home, how to treat any symptoms and what to do if symptoms get worse.

It also includes information on financial help, wellbeing, support with shopping and caring responsibilities and even how to stave off boredom for the 10-day period.

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