Keep Our NHS Public campaigners in Oxfordshire have launched a campaign to raise popular support for bringing a Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support back into local hands.
The Crush Covid campaign has garnered the support of local MPs and councillors, who agree with campaigners that locally run test and trace services are much more likely to succeed in helping to bring infection rates under control. The failures of private company SERCO to contact the people who had been close-contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19 have been well documented. The Government admitted failures when it emerged that SERCO had contacted less than 60% of close-contacts in October, despite £12billion of tax payers’ money being spent on the contract tracing system.
Independent SAGE responded to this admission of failure by the Government by publishing a ‘blueprint’ for contract-tracing, proposing a five-stage process of finding, testing, tracing, isolating and supporting those isolating in order to reduce infection rates.
Oxford Council then adopted a motion for full control of contact-tracing to be taken on board by local authorities in November and subsequently two other Oxfordshire councils have debated similar motions.
Campaigners have now launched a video calling on other local areas to launch their own Crush Covid campaigns, and demand local authorities run local contact-tracing services. They are asking: “Who is more likely to persuade a ‘contact’ to isolate – someone from a national call centre that usually deals with debt collecting – or someone from the council at your door offering practical support?”
Councillor Louise Upton of Oxford City Council says in the video: “We are in lockdown again. We are in lockdown as not enough people who tested positive for COVID-19 were tested, contacted and supported to stay at home. And that support to stay at home is absolutely crucial for the whole system to work.”
So far Lambeth has passed a similar motion and campaigners hope that they can persuade other local councils in London to do the same, with the aim of London region coordinating the local systems. ZeroCovid and WeOwnIt campaigns also back the Crush Covid demands.
Campaigner Liz Peretz says in the video: We hope that other areas in the country will set up similar campaigns, some we know already have. Together we can get the Government to change its mind.