Today, 4th November, sees the launch of Portsmouth City Council’s local contact tracing service as the authority works in partnership with Public Health England to reach residents who have tested positive for coronavirus.
The council team will take on the job of contacting those Portsmouth residents who have had a positive test and need to self-isolate, but who the national service has been unable to reach. Local knowledge and council-held information is the key to finding alternative ways to get in touch with those that cannot be reached otherwise.
Once the national service has tried to contact the Portsmouth resident for 24 hours, the details of the case will be handed to the local contact tracing team to progress for a further 72 hours. Helen Atkinson, Director of Public Health Portsmouth City Council, comments: “I’m pleased we’ve been able to get our local service up and running so rapidly to help in the effort to trace residents with positive test results so they can self-isolate as soon as possible. Once we’ve made contact, the national service can then progress, getting in touch with everyone the person has been in close contact with so they too can self-isolate – which is so important to keeping the spread of the virus under control in our city. Through the service, we will also ensure any local support services needed while self-isolating are put in place, which is vital for our more vulnerable residents.”
The council’s contact tracing team is made up of experienced council employees, who have volunteered to undertake this new role.
Cllr Matthew Winnington, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, is fully behind the local team getting involved in this vital work, he says: “It is so important that we in Portsmouth use what we have and what we know to make sure we can contribute the best knowledge and expertise in the fight against coronavirus. Where the incorrect contact numbers are recorded, or where people are unhappy responding to unfamiliar phone numbers, we feel our service can make an important difference by using accurate locally-held contact information, a local Portsmouth dial code and, importantly, those making the calls will be local people who know the city. I urge residents to familiarise themselves with the number we’ll be using so if we do have to contact you, you know it’s a call you can safely answer, and need to answer.”
If Portsmouth City Council’s team needs to make contact with any resident, it will be from the following number: 023 9268 7000, which will be seen in ‘missed calls’. Requests to call us back will be left in voicemail messages giving a ‘return call’ number to call back on. The local contact tracing service currently operates Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Local contact tracing services have been successfully trialled in other local authorities with results that showed people responded more readily to calls and call backs when a local team got in touched.