NHS Scotland contact tracing technology will be tested in three health board areas from Monday, the Scottish Government has announced.
The pilot, which is expected to last two weeks, will allow NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland to test out the software which contact tracers will use to collect the information that they need digitally.
The Scottish Government said this builds on existing contact tracing technology in place across the NHS and will allow health boards to trace more contacts faster.
It said this is the first step in moving towards an extended test, trace, isolate and support (TTIS) approach which will be used to keep transmission in communities low as the country moves out of lockdown.
More than 600 additional NHS staff are ready to begin the work, as part of the process of recruiting up to 2000 staff.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Technology will be an important tool to help us move towards the test, trace, isolate and support approach and safely exit lockdown.
“The software we are developing in Scotland is built on a tried and trusted platform and will allow us to carry out contact tracing on a much larger scale than has been necessary until now.
“It will also focus on supporting public health teams to identify outbreaks and reduce transmission in high risk groups and settings by making it easier for staff to collect and record information.
“The test, trace, isolate and support approach is about breaking the chain of transmission of the virus but it remains vital that alongside this people continue to follow physical distancing advice and practise good hand and cough hygiene.”
‘From tomorrow NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland will test the contact tracing technology that health boards will use.’Health secretary Jeane Freeman
Freeman added during the Scottish Government’s daily briefing: “Currently health boards across Scotland do some contact tracing based on risk assessments and as part of our build up of contact tracing staff, an open recruitment process is under way to supplement the increase in contact tracing teams boards are currently working on.
“We now have 600 additional staff across our NHS boards who are ready to start and more are being trained as contact tracers.
“From tomorrow NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland will test the contact tracing technology that health boards will use.
“This technology builds on existing tried and tested technology and is designed to support staff to collect and record information and to trace more contacts more quickly.
“Together with the growing number of contact tracers, the technology allows us to carry out contact tracing in the much larger scale.
“The software which is being tested next week will be used in all health boards by the end of May and will continue to be refined and improved during June.
“It will play a valuable role in improving the speed and effectiveness of our work. Test, trace, isolate and support.”
The software will be rolled out to all health boards by the end of May and then enhanced further during June.
The TTIS approach aims to identify cases of Covid-19, find the people they have been in close contact with, and then ask those close-contacts to self-isolate for 14 days to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.
The Scottish Government said it is also working to develop support for those who will be required to isolate, building on the support currently in place for those currently shielding from the virus.