NHS Test and Trace Debate

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Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston

Main Page: Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston (Crossbench - Life peer)

NHS Test and Trace

Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston Excerpts
Monday 28th June 2021

(3 months, 4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord is correct that the Government allocated £22 billion to test and trace in the last financial year. As I said, more than 80% of that has been allocated to testing. He is absolutely right that we have sought opportunities to drive down costs where possible and free up resources. We have taken a number of steps to reduce costs, including through commercial negotiations with suppliers, which have released £2.2 billion of savings, and technological advancements. A further £6 billion of savings were achieved by lower demand, changing priorities and deferred activities during the national lockdown from December to March.

Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston Portrait Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, this pandemic is far from over. We also know that testing has to go hand in hand with tracing to be effective. The Minister mentioned local authorities playing a vital part. Is she satisfied that what we have at the moment is a sustainable system of sufficient support for our directors of public health, to marshal us for future demands in a way that is both effective and responsive to the communities they serve?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, we have recently increased the resources available to local authorities—for example, in the amount of money they have for discretionary payments to support those who are self-isolating. The noble Baroness is absolutely right about the importance of partnership in this work, and in particular the role of local authorities and directors of public health, to ensure that the uptake of testing is as high as we need it to be. We find that, once people are tested, they do tend to self-isolate.