A WIRRAL MP has urged the Government to give contact tracing powers to public health teams across the country.

Margaret Greenwood made her plea in Parliament as part of a debate secured by Labour on local contact tracing.

In her speech, Ms Greenwood - Member of Parliament for Wirral West - criticised the Government's decision to overlook the expertise of local public health teams and instead give large sums of public money to private companies to run test and trace.

More than £12 billion of taxpayers' money has been spent on the test and trace system so far.

A recent document published by the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) showed that the largely privatised national test and trace system is only having a "marginal impact" on the transmission of coronavirus.

Over the last few months, a number of local authorities have seen much higher success rates in contact tracing compared to the national system.

Alongside the Tier 3 restrictions imposed this week in Merseyside, the Government confirmed that Liverpool City Region - which includes Wirral - will now be given additional funding and powers for a local Track, Trace and Isolate programme, but this will not be the case across the country.

During the debate, Ms Greenwood called on Health Minister Jo Churchill to clarify how these funds would be spent and asked her to commit to expanding local authority public health teams.

Speaking after the debate, Ms Greenwood MP said: "I have written to the government three times since May to ask them to make sure that our local public health experts in Wirral Council can have the data they need.

"It is astonishing that it has taken them five months to act on this.

"While Merseyside is being given additional powers for track, trace and isolate at last, this is not the same for all of the country.

"The Labour Party has been calling on the government to put contact tracing powers in the hands of local authorities for months.

"Instead, the Government has handed huge sums of tax-payers' money to private companies such as Serco and Sitel to deliver a test and trace programme that is clearly failing.

"In Wirral, the national contact tracing system is reaching just 63% of close contacts in the borough.

"In contrast, local health protection teams elsewhere have reached 97.1% of close contacts.

"At a time of national crisis, the Conservatives have allowed their obsession with privatising the National Health Service to overshadow the need to provide a comprehensive and effective test and trace programme.

"Local public health teams must be given control over contact tracing, as well as the resources to deliver an effective system.

"The Government cannot continue to squander public money on a failing model."

Margaret Greenwood’s speech from the debate can be read in full via this link: https://bit.ly/318pMso

Related story: https://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/18742924.margaret-greenwood-mp-calls-test-trace-fixed/