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Covid-19: Could You Work as a Contact Tracer?

Covid-19: Could You Work as a Contact Tracer?


Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently announced a large-scale track and trace programme at a coronavirus daily briefing. The programme will involve the recruitment of some 18,000 contact tracers in an ambitious scheme that is still evolving. Of these 18,000 people, the government has proposed 15,000 call handlers, with 3,000 as trained public health staff with experience of contact tracing and knowledge of their communities.

NHS Professionals has now launched the recruitment drive for the 3,000 qualified clinical contact caseworkers as part of the Public Health England Contact Tracing Service programme. The clinical contact tracer caseworkers are required to have skills and experience at NHS Band 6, for which pay begins at £16.63 per hour. The job announcement says that applications from clinicians above this band who want to play their part on the virtual frontline are also welcome.

The contact tracer job is home-based and involves undertaking the initial interview of Covid-19 positive cases by phone. Successful candidates will be expected to use their clinical knowledge to conduct a public health risk assessment, identify contacts, provide public health advice where appropriate and help to escalate complex cases. Proficiency in electronic systems and databases, along with strong communication skills, are also required.

Candidates have a choice of shifts lasting four, eight or 12 hours, and are expected to conduct one call per hour. A three-month or 12-week commitment is asked with those who are selected receiving training. Furloughed NHS workers who register will be unpaid volunteers if they are taken on. Potential candidates are asked to register their interest on the NHS Professionals website.

It’s understood that a service outsourcing company will handling the remaining 15,000 non-clinical call handler roles, with public service provider Serco Group looking like the lead contender for the contract. However, this has yet to be confirmed and may be delayed as the government’s tracking and tracing operation piloted in the  Isle of Wight last week ran into initial difficulties.

Concerns regarding security mean that the coronavirus contact tracing app has been downloaded by just 40 per cent of people on the Isle of Wight. The app uses blue tooth technology to record when users are near each other. If someone reports that they have developed symptoms, anyone they have been in close proximity to will be alerted and provided with details on how to be tested. However, concerns have been raised that the centralised self-reporting symptoms leave the app open to abuse, particularly as the government have previously warned of a rise in opportunistic scammers during the crisis.

Health service bosses are coming under pressure to switch over to a version of digital contact-tracing which uses technology developed by Google and Apple specifically for their phones. This could prove critical if the app is going to provide the track and trace programme with the volume of users it needs when it’s rolled out to the rest of the UK.

It’s estimated that that’s around 50,000 – 100,000 people will eventually be needed to carry out the contact tracing, with public health officials suggesting that the programme might last until 2024 and beyond. Details about how to apply for all roles has yet to be announced, but those who are interested are advised to keep an eye on the jobs page here.

Contact Tracer is among a number of roles the NHS is actively looking to fill. If you’re returning to work on a temporary contract, Contracting Scout can assist with the administration of your billing and invoicing requirements to ensure you are set up quickly and paid promptly. To talk to a member of our team, call:  0203 603 1878