A REAL NHS Test and Trace lab – at last

An NHS trust, working with the local authority in Newcastle, is to run a new ‘Lighthouse lab’ for Covid testing and tracing amidst growing evidence that the government’s privatised, delocalised ‘call-centre’ model (run by private firms Serco and Sitel) is failing to provide anything like an adequate service. 

DFNHS Chair, Colin Hutchinson:
“Doctors for the NHS welcomes the announcement of a new Lighthouse laboratory in Gateshead, to be run by Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust and Newcastle City Council. All the existing Lighthouse laboratories are run as private businesses. The centralised systems they have put in place may be quite good at accumulating information, but do not seem to have been designed to get the results of tests rapidly to the places they are needed – the communities, the businesses, the schools and the individuals – so that appropriate measures can be taken by local public health officers. The only means we have at our disposal  to control the relentless spread of this virus are through effective identification of people who are carrying the virus and supporting them and their close contacts to isolate themselves until they know that they no longer pose a risk to others. For this to work, we need a service that is fully integrated with the entire public health response, rather than the phenomenally secretive commercial laboratory system that sits outside. Doctors for the NHS hopes that the Gateshead laboratory is the first sign of a move to rebuild an effective public health laboratory service as a permanent investment in responding to infectious diseases now and in the years to come.”
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