Meet one of our heroes, Mini First Aid trainer, Elaine McInnes. As well as delivering paediatric first aid training to staff looking after key worker’s children, Elaine has returned to her previous nursing role. Back on neonatal intensive care, she is also working for Public Health England’s Track and Trace Service. True hero. This week she has taken time out of her busy schedule to tell us more about the track and trace service.
My role as a Contact Tracer with the NHS Test and Trace Programme explained. There are some 25,000 contact tracers, or 'Tier 3' call handlers. Because of my background, I am one of the 3,000 or so Tier 2 clinical contact tracers and I was recruited by NHS Professionals, the organisation that supplies temporary staff to the NHS.
My role involves calling people from 0300 013 5000 who have tested positive for Covid-19, getting them to talk through who they've come into close contact with in the two days before exhibiting symptoms and seven days afterwards – and feeding the details into the system. We have to walk them through where they have been – we are specially trained in techniques to jog their memories – and whom they met. We establish who is a close contact and who is a proximity contact and then someone calls the close contact to advise them that they need to self-isolate for 14 days. We do not disclose who the person was. We are all trained in data security and bound by codes of confidentiality due to our professional registration and no information is shared out with the Test and Trace system.
The biggest concern is that not everyone has symptoms but can still be infectious. The most infectious period is 2 days before symptoms develop so people don’t know they could be spreading the virus. Acting quickly is essential and if it is not convenient when we call we can re-schedule at a more convenient time. It would help hugely if you have contact details of close contacts you may have had to hand.
We record every contact: someone who has been in the same household as the person who has tested positive or has been within two metres of the person for at least 15 minutes. Tier 1 is the managerial level comprising Public Health England workers who we refer any complex cases, non-responders and larger scale outbreaks of Covid-19 to.
We do not judge but we do support and advise and try to answer any queries you may have at this worrying time. If we can’t answer your query we can signpost you to further guidance and pass to our team leaders to help with your queries or call you back.
Contrary to the news the system is very effective and the training constantly updated however it requires the co-operation of the public to minimise the risk of spread and increasing the R rate to avoid us going into further lockdown. I personally know a number of people locally and nationally who have tested positive and while some have mild symptoms there are others who have ended up in intensive care and left with long lasting effects. Also there are some testing positive long after the initial 7 days. Don’t take a risk please remember to social distance.
The number you will be called on is 0300 013 5000 so if you add it to your phone’s contacts you’ll know it is genuine. You will NEVER be asked for your bank or credit card details by a genuine NHS Test and Trace caseworker.
For more information on the Test and Trace programme see
For information about support and guidance about Covid-19 see
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