Hillingdon Council brings COVID-19 contact tracing in-house to ensure quicker support for those who test positive
Wednesday 5 May: A pilot localised contact tracing scheme launched by Hillingdon Council earlier this month to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 is already seeing positive results.
The council is one of several local authorities taking part in the 'Local-0' scheme, which enables them to support residents who test positive more quickly.
Those in Hillingdon who get a positive COVID-19 test result will get a call from the council, rather than being contacted by a national call centre. Localising the service helps the council get people more immediate access to help, such as the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme and services from the council's COVID-19 Community Hub.
The hub offers a range of support services, from financial advice and emotional support to befriending services, priority online shopping slots and food bank referrals. To find out more call the hub on 020 3949 5786, or visit www.hillingdon.gov.uk/community-support.
Through Local-0, the details of any residents testing positive are shared with Hillingdon Council, as soon as possible after the result.
The council's contact tracing team will then then call the resident to ensure they've filled in the NHS questionnaire to detail who they've had contact with, when their symptoms started and places they've visited. This local contact helps make the process a little more personal.
Residents who've tested positive have eight hours to fill in the online questionnaire. If the council's dedicated call centre team can't make contact by phone, a specialist council team will make a socially distanced, home visit.
Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council said: "We're doing all we can to ensure those who test positive in our borough get the all the help they need as quickly as possible.
"Under the previous system, some residents had already been contacted multiple times to complete the questionnaire and so were understandably less receptive by the time the council got in touch.
"Being first point of contact means residents have someone familiar make contact at what is likely to be a difficult time. If this encourages them to fill their questionnaire in quickly, it in turn helps us stem the spread of this virus.
"So, by bringing contact tracing in-house we're also helping improve the scheme's success rate."
The scheme went live on 6 April and has already seen an increase in contact rate with residents (reaching nine out of 10 people) compared to the centralised system used previously.
The council is receiving on average details of 18 new residents per day, which is about three times as many as were being received prior to the launch of this project. To date, more than 270 residents have been contacted.
If you've tested positive you will need to self-isolate for 10 days. Some people who test positive may be entitled to the government's £500 Test and Trace Support Payment if they meet the eligibility criteria. Find out more and apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment at www.gov.uk/test-and-trace-support-payment.
Anyone with one or more of these symptoms - a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste - should book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test, or by calling 119.