Test and Trace app could be delayed until the Autumn – Health Secretary must explain why
Delays to the Test and Trace app need urgent explanation, Labour’s London Assembly Fire and Resilience Spokesperson, Andrew Dismore AM, says. This comes after the London Assembly was informed that the App may not be ready before the Autumn, despite promises to the contrary by the Government. Writing to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, Mr Dismore urged clarity of the status of the app.
The Government pledged a “world beating” test and trace system by mid-May. This was then delayed until June. The contact element of the system has begun operations, but the app has been subject to serious delays. On Wednesday (10th June), the Health Secretary said he was still unable to say when the contact-tracing app will be ready to launch.
At Thursday’s London Assembly Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning (FREP) Committee, Assembly Members were told that the App is likely to be delayed until later this year.
Addressing the Committee, the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience, Dr Fiona Twycross, said: “I understand that its due to come out in the Autumn… when we get an app that works, I think we’d all support it… we have raised concerns that the app, although it might work on an island, may not work [in London].”
Dr Twycross told Assembly Members that developers needed to address a number of problems with the app, some of which will directly impact on the capital. This included the issue of Bluetooth confusion between residents of tower blocks in the capital.
In his letter to the Health Secretary, Mr Dismore urged answers on the state of the app, why predictable issues were missed, and the current timeline for the app’s launch. He also called on Mr Hancock to give clarity on what efforts are being undertaken to address the lack of capacity in the contact tracing system due to these delays.
Labour’s London Assembly Fire and Resilience Spokesperson, Andrew Dismore AM, said:
“We’ve seen from other countries just how vital test and trace is to the fightback against COVID-19. I fully recognise the importance of getting this right, and when we get the app we’ll make sure we join efforts to push take up. But the problems need addressing urgently and the Health Secretary must be upfront about delays.
“The Government told us this system would be world beating, how can that be true when predictable issues have been seemingly missed?
“A third of people who test positive for coronavirus are not being reached by NHS contact tracers. This makes it more urgent to get the app fully operational. This would mean more people can be asked for their contacts, and more contacts told to isolate – protecting everyone’s health.
“This is an opportunity for Ministers to prove they are on top of this issue – if they can’t do that they risk further losing the trust and confidence of Londoners. We don’t want that, we want to be assured they’re protecting the nation’s health, which is why I’m seeking answers today.”
- A copy of Andrew Dismore’s letter to the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, can be found attached; 200611 tracing app delay FINAL
- A webcast of the Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning meeting can be found here;
- The Government pledged a test and trace system by mid-May. This was then delayed until June;
- On Wednesday (10th June), the Health Secretary said he was still unable to say when the contact-tracing app will be ready to launch;
- Andrew Dismore AM is the London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden