Kingston Council launches innovative hospital contact tracing pilot to support self-isolation

Kingston Council is playing a key role in nationwide efforts to boost self-isolation rates among people who test positive for COVID-19.

It is launching an innovative government-backed pilot that will introduce local contact tracing in the borough’s hospital. 

The council initiative, developed in collaboration with Kingston Hospital, is one of nine local authority schemes across the country to receive funding from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to trial creative ways of supporting people who need to self isolate, to reduce transmission of the virus. 

Kingston’s Public Health team devised the initiative, which will go live imminently, after analysis revealed a significant proportion of the cases its local contact tracing team was unable to reach were currently in hospital. 

Kingston Council’s Director of Public Health Iona Lidington said the scheme would help identify contacts and ensure vulnerable people across the borough received the support they needed to self-isolate effectively.

“People across Kingston have made huge sacrifices to help us reduce the spread of COVID-19, and I am incredibly appreciative of all their efforts. To continue to break the chains of transmission, we need to make it as easy as possible for people to engage with our local contact tracing service and offer support, including bespoke self-isolation support to those who are vulnerable or on low incomes. 

“Our evidence has shown that a significant group our local contact tracing service has been unable to reach are those in hospital. Through this pilot, two dedicated ‘on the ground’ contact tracers will be based within Kingston Hospital, to support our local team. They will be specifically trained to complete contact tracing in a sensitive way, particularly with those who may be more vulnerable.” 

The new contact tracers will increase the number of cases and their contacts completing tracing with the local team, and so help reduce transmission of the virus. 

Reaching these hospitalised residents will also allow the local contact tracing team to offer vital support to potentially vulnerable people to help them self-isolate effectively. This includes essential shopping, medicine deliveries and buddying through the council’s local support service, the Kingston Stronger Together Hub. 

Kingston Hospital’s Director of Infection Prevention and Control Sally Britain said the scheme was testament to the strong collaboration between the two organisations.

“We are delighted to be working with our partners at Kingston Council on this initiative helping to keep local people safe.”

Alongside the hospital pilot, Kingston Council is also introducing its own three month pilot of a 'Stay Home Support' voucher scheme for people on low incomes who may face financial hardship if they have to self isolate. The scheme is aimed specifically at people who, for one reason or another, do not qualify for current national £500 support payments.

Those eligible for the Stay Home Support vouchers will receive a payment for each of the 10 days they have to self-isolate. There will be a daily check-in from the council’s local contact tracing service to ensure recipients are complying with self-isolation rules. The aim is to ensure those who may otherwise face loss of earnings are financially supported, and are not deterred from coming forward for testing. It is hoped this will reduce the risk of non-compliance with self-isolation, and ultimately help break the chains of transmission.

Published: 25th May 2021