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Tuesday 19 May 2020

NHS Scotland commences contact tracing tech trial

Scottish Government logoNHS Scotland has started trialling its contact tracing technology, which is intended to play a key role in the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (TTIS) strategy. The two week pilot will take place in NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland.

Whilst the Scottish Government has not ruled out supporting the rollout of the NHS Covid-19 App (see NHS Covid-19 App developments), it is, at least initially, taking a different approach. The technology being developed by the Digital Health and Care Institute in Scotland is a secure web-based tool, which is accessible on smartphones or computers. It has been built upon existing contact tracing technology in place in NHS Scotland, and is designed to help contact tracers collect the information that they need digitally, rather than provide a proximity-based system like the NHSX-developed app.

The technology is designed to make resource intensive traditional contact tracing more efficient. It is intended to facilitate contact tracing on a large scale and ensure public health teams can identify outbreaks more rapidly, helping to break the chain of transmission.

Over 600 staff from NHS Scotland are available to start contact tracing in Scotland, but the Scottish Government has faced criticism over the speed of hiring additional support. It is in the process of recruiting up to 2,000 people to support the strategy, but despite 8,000 applications none have yet been hired. The Scottish Government remains confident it will have 2,000 contact tracers available by the end of May, as applicants make their way through pre-employment and disclosure checks, and through additional support from other groups, such as the St Andrew's First Aid Service.

The technology is expected to be rolled out to all health boards in Scotland by the end of May and then further enhanced during June.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: nhs   scotland   covid-19  

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