Contact tracers in the north-east are coping so well with Covid-19 they are taking on cases from other parts of the country, the Evening Express can reveal today.
Teams of workers have been employed by NHS Grampian to keep people informed when they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
In some parts of Scotland, private firms have had to be enlisted because contact tracers cannot keep up with the number of cases they have to deal with.
But in the north-east, staff are making contact with more than 90% of the people they have to call within 24 hours – and the remainder are people who fail to answer their phones.
Such is their rate of success, they are also taking on some of the workload from other health boards which are coping less well with the demands of the pandemic.
Dr Derek Cox, the lead consultant for contact tracing at NHS Grampian, said: “The national contact tracing service has gone out to a couple of commercial firms to help with its efforts because the number of cases is accelerating faster than they can call people.
“However, in Grampian we haven’t used the national centre at all for six weeks. We are doing all our own tracing – and we are also helping out health boards in central Scotland where they are under a lot more pressure.
“When a case comes into the system, we almost always finish the interview with that person about who they have been in contact with inside 24 hours, and the ones we can’t make contact with is because they are not answering their phone.
“We know nationally the service is under a lot of pressure but in Grampian, the staff are coping really well.”
In addition to taking on cases from other health boards, staff in Grampian are also set to take on contact tracing for staff in care homes in a bid to ensure people who may have Covid-19 are tracked down as soon as possible.
Dr Cox added: “At the moment, nursing home testing is done through the UK Government’s ‘lighthouse labs’ – the Scottish Government and ourselves have nothing to do with it.
“But now they have asked us to take on some of the tracing for that. NHS Grampian is in the process of taking that on so there will be absolutely no delays in care homes.
“We are really on top of the situation here and that is testament to the staff who are doing a fantastic job.”