What to expect if you're called by an NHS contact tracer
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
Scotland’s approach to implementing the ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ strategy, Test and Protect, has now been up and running across the country for several weeks.
The Test and Protect strategy, which was recently put to the rest and found effective in suppressing Covid-19 when a small outbreak of the virus appeared in Dumfries and Galloway, will help us gradually change the restrictions that help society to adapt to a new normal.
If you experience any one of the symptoms - a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – you must immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days.
As soon as you start showing symptoms you should go to www.nhsinform.scot or call 0800 028 2816 to arrange to get tested.
When contacting individuals who have tested positive, contact tracers will ask people to identify others who they’ve been in close contact with and places they’ve been 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms up until the time they’ve self-isolated. This information will then be inputted into contact tracing software and used to identify and contact those identified.
The positive individual will not be named by the contact tracer in line with patient confidentiality, unless they agree to have their details disclosed to help the contact tracing process.
Importantly, contact tracers will not ask anyone for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything. The data gathered will be stored securely by NHS Scotland and safely destroyed as soon as possible after the pandemic concludes.
Commenting, Borders-based SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse said:
“I understand that people may be worried about the risks of potential phone scams, but the NHS already has a number of protections in place to stop potential fraudsters and ensure all information is kept confidential.
“Contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify who they are calling by name. They will not ask for information about bank accounts or medical records, and they will not try to sell you anything.
“The tracers are supported by software which builds on a tried and trusted platform, allowing teams to identify outbreaks and reduce transmission for high risk groups here in the Borders.
“We’ve already seen how effective this can be quite close to home, when a cross-border cluster pf cases emerged between Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway. With Test and Protect, that outbreak was suppressed very quickly and kept under control.
“Trace and Protect is one way we will tackle this pandemic, but physical distancing and good hand hygiene continues to play a huge role as minimise the spread of infection.”
Test and Protect was rolled out across Scotland on 28 May 2020.
What people can expect when called by a contact tracer:
contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify the call recipient by name.
contact tracers will only ask for information about your movements and the people you have been in close physical proximity to.
contact tracers will not ask for personal information like bank accounts, or medical records and will not offer services to you, or try to sell you anything. They may send a text message or email to provide links to online guidance and support.
A privacy statement about the use of information as part of contact tracing can be found on the NHS Scotland site - https://www.informationgovernance.scot.nhs.uk/covid-19-privacy-statement/