Sheffield City Council has become one of the first in the UK to bring track and trace efforts under public ownership.
The move is part of a wider nationwide scheme called ‘Local-0’ that is aiming to encourage local authorities to tackle tracking and tracing coronavirus cases locally.
Alex Westeran, Operations Manager at Sheffield City Council said: “Our main approach is that everybody receives the support when they are told to self-isolate, but we want to make sure that people can do that when asked to do so.”
Unlike previous track and trace operations, the council is hoping it can plug into the social care sector with its existing links and make contacting cases more efficient.
The new approach will increase the capacity to contact up to 140 people per day, according to Westeran’s estimates.
It follows criticism over the government’s handling of track and trace and the lack of control local authorities had been given to handle local outbreaks.
Private providers like Serco have also come under scrutiny for running a centralised system that left councils out of the mix.
Pascale Robinson, Campaign Officer at We Own It said: “We are ecstatic that Sheffield is taking on local tracing.
“It’s absolutely vital that local teams are leading on this because Serco and other providers have shown time and time again that they can’t support people and trace contacts.”
We Own It has been campaigning for coronavirus tracing programmes across the country to be brought under public ownership and be run locally for months.
Previous polling by the group found that up to 40% of people were not willing to share their contact information with a private company because of safety fears.
It is hoped other regions and local authorities will now sign up for the Local-0 scheme as vaccination efforts ramp up and restrictions are eased.