Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Volunteer Contact Tracers (VCTs) will work to shield their local community from transmission of Covid-19, and speed the lifting of the lockdown and return to normality. They will work in cooperation with regional Public Health England (PHE) teams and Local Authority (LA) Directors of Public Health. If possible, they will receive supervision from, and report back to, the local Director of Public Health (DPH).

VCTs will maintain absolute confidentiality regarding clients’ identities, except when the client gives permission for information to be shared with agencies that need to know, e.g. care workers.

VCTs will work exclusively by phone, messaging, and email.

The client will be invited to make the initial telephone approach to the VCT in order to avoid any complexities regarding patient confidentiality and agreement. Clients will get information about the existence of the VCT from PHE, doctors, care workers, social workers, or through informal communications such as social media or word of mouth.

 The VCT will introduce themselves by name, explaining that they are a volunteer, and asking if the client is well enough to speak at present. In the case of people where the fever is intermittent, it may be better to speak at a time when the client is more able to speak.

VCTs will explain that there is no obligation to talk, but that contact tracing may help others to avoid getting ill, and get the country out of lockdown more quickly. We will explain that the aim is not to punish anyone, but to help to suppress the spread of the virus.

VCTs will ask about symptoms, to confirm that the picture is of Covid-19. [symptom list to be added] This enquiry will take place whether or not the case has been confirmed by testing, as it will increase the engagement between client and VCT, and also because it has proved impossible to provide adequate testing for Covid-19 in the UK.

We will allow the client to speak freely at first, as people often want to tell their story in their own way. Take notes as the story unfolds, and come back to salient points.

VCTs will ask how the client is managing,  and if there is someone looking after them. They can provide a leaflet on how to Nurse a Covid patient at home.  [version for self-care is needed for people without carer]. Contact numbers with appropriate agencies will be provided.

Having made sure that all needs are provided for, the VCT will now enquire about any contacts that the client may have had in the last 3-5 days. Although the incubation period may extend to 14 days or longer, viral shedding is at its most intense in the 3-5 days before symptoms appear, and asking people to retrace their movements over 2 weeks may be too challenging. The client or the carer may be able to supply other names after consideration.

Shops and supermarkets visited by the client in the five days before symptom onset will be identified.

An attempt will be made to discover where it is most likely that the client picked up the infection. Names of shops or supermarkets will be taken.

Contact emails, telephone numbers and addresses will be requested.

At the conclusion, an undertaking will be made to follow up in one week to log progress. The client should be made aware of red flag symptoms that would mean a 999 call for hospital.

The second phase of the operation is to call all people and places that may have been infected by the client and warn them that they are at risk of developing the illness. They will be asked about their state of health, and asked to test their sense of smell. They will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their meeting with the client. They will be asked about their household, and especially if it contains a vulnerable person. They will be provided with information about nursing a Covid patient, and a list of useful items to prepare.

At the end of the process, the volunteer will complete a case form and send it to the DPH,with a brief summary to be sent to the patient‘s GP.

Draft 1.00

Richard Lawson


Bill Rigby said...

I saw you across a crowded Zoom this evening! Have you had a chance to share this thinking more widely? I like it. Mercifully free of cyber-gismos

DocRichard said...

Hi Bill, NHS professionals is recruiting contact tracers. I am trying to fill in their registration form (I want to do the job) but it didn't work. So I tried to alert them to this, but their feedback form didn't work either. #omnishambles.