The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.
- This week’s cut from Cowper: We need to talk about Test And Trace
- Today’s covid contract: Government tenders £785m deal for home testing logistics
We’re not sure if NHS Test and Trace has been secretive about its leadership structure, or it’s just seen so much turmoil in its short existence that it has not made its way onto the website.
So now we know, for example, that there is only one clinician and/or public health expert on its “executive committee”.
Nor is there a great wealth of clinical or public health representation throughout its 80-odd “wider leadership”.
The bulk of the top level is made up of senior civil servants or national NHS managers; and several senior managers brought in from industry, including Waitrose, Jaguar Land Rover and Travelex.
One HSJ reader, making the case for NHST&T’s defence, observes: “This may be a controversial view, but how many clinicians does it need/require to be in on the board? This appears to me as a supply chain of industrial proportions of a relatively basic clinical test. There is no clinical complexity in taking the test, packaging it and getting it to a lab that requires a host of clinical leadership.”
It’s a good argument – in the early days, the UK’s testing effort was arguably too heavy on medics, and weak on good management. And certainly, running the test and trace system needs expertise in areas where the NHS, and perhaps local government, are weak.
There are some which do need public health and clinical knowhow, however: interventions to slow spread of infectious disease in the community and within health and care premises; helping the NHS know when it might need to be ready; and coordinating and interfacing with an enormous lab operation.
Then there’s live public health knowledge – the link with public health teams in local government has been a persistent problem with tracing and containment.