Leeds council boss at top of test and trace programme says working 'at the heart of Whitehall' possible from Yorkshire

The Yorkshire council boss appointed to oversee the rollout of the government test and trace programme has said it is possible to “fully participate at the heart of Whitehall” from Yorkshire as he stepped down from the role.

By Geraldine Scott
Sunday, 26th July 2020, 12:41 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th July 2020, 12:46 pm

Chief executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan was the national tracing lead for the programme which is the key to stopping coronavirus spreading widely in the community while scientists rush to find a vaccine.

It means that if someone tests positive for coronavirus all those who they have had contact with will be notified by the NHS.

And he said that the scheme would need “the strongest national and local partnership to succeed”.

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Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan. Photo: JPI Media

Speaking as he handed over chief executive of Oldham Council Carolyn Wilkins, Mr Riordan said: “Local communities, stakeholders and councils know how to tackle problems quickly, led by local public health professionals. [The] contain framework empowers local councils to act swiftly with support from Government when needed.”

Mr Riodan said Test and Trace had reached around 200,000 people “to self isolate and save lives”.

He said: “Without a vaccine and treatment, this is [the] best chance of returning close to normal life, 80 per cent contacts reached isn’t bad and can be improved by use of local teams.”

And posting on Twitter he added: “I did the job entirely from Yorkshire. You can fully participate at the heart of Whitehall with ministers and senior officials, work daily with entire national sectors and change Government policy from the North. It’s the future.”

In most recent figures, it was revealed that a total of 38,877 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England have had their cases transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system since its launch.

Of this total, 29,962 people (77.1 per cent) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts, while 7,614 (19.6 per cent) were not reached.

A further 1,301 people (3.3 per cent) could not be reached because their communication details had not been provided.

The figures cover the period May 28 to July 15.