Kingston and Surbiton Labour party is making an urgent call for Covid-19 Test and Trace systems to be back in local control, before winter.
Conor Bollins, chair of the party, said he thought the national testing system, run by Deloitte, had failed the community with a backlog of people trying to get tested.
He said: “The Government has excluded local public health services from being involved in the Test and Trace programme by awarding contracts to private companies instead.
“Our concern is that social care and health care workers, and the general public more broadly, are going to be unable to get hold of tests in the run-up to winter.”
Privatisation of test sites
Health secretary Matt Hancock replaced local schemes with a centralised national system using private firms such as Deloitte running local drive-in and walk-in test sites.
The £12bn Test and Trace system “is having a marginal impact” in reducing the transmission of the virus, according to the Government’s scientific advisors.
Bollins agreed and said: “Without an adequate test and trace service, the government runs the risk of losing control of the virus.
“This could lead to more unnecessary deaths.”
Nora Pierce, a retired Kingston Hospital nurse and midwife, met with Bollins at the Government’s flagship Chessington test site which has been privatised.
She visited the centre twice, in May and August, as part of a research group for King’s College London, and both times the site was empty.
“I do think it [privatisation] has had an impact without a doubt…if you are launching a Test and Trace system, would you not employ the people, or use the people that are already employed by you the government and paid for by us, the taxpayer,” she said.
‘What they do for a living’
Pierce suggested public health officials and GUM (Genitourinary Medicine) clinics that both do Test and Trace every day would be perfect.
She said: “This is what they do for a living. So why wouldn’t we use them?”
Kingston & Surbiton Labour Party are campaigning for local public health teams to be in charge of the community’s testing and contact tracing.
They have called for Kingston Council to support their campaign and have set up a petition to involve residents.