Working as a clinical contact tracer

clinical contact tracerFollowing on from his introduction to becoming a clinical contact tracer, Bhavin Patel explains what life as a contact tracer has been like as lockdown eases.

We are now over a month into the track and trace programme. We’re getting used to things and having the creases ironed out.

It is a very media-focused concept at the moment. I think a lot of the pessimism directed towards it is therefore unfair. It is such a vast task to create in such a short space of time. Focus is shifting away from how professionals have put themselves forward, moving out of their comfort zones to rise to the challenge this new role brings, with its own stresses and dilemmas. We are now trying to balance this new role with our existing professional commitments and family life.

Track and trace learning

As I mentioned in my previous article this has been very much self-directed learning. In some instances we’re now learning on the job. From the outset this was something we were aware of when we signed up. Literally thousands of healthcare professionals applied. With such an overwhelming response and inability to gauge the demand needed, they’ve had to pause the recruitment for now.

Various social media groups have been created from very early on. They’ve acted as an invaluable platform for us all to share information, concerns and also learn from each other. The admins and active members create such helpfulness and positivity – it’s great to be a part of.

Dentists have even created our own WhatsApp group of more than 30 members. Here, everybody is at hand to help and support each other with any difficult cases, booking shifts and also discuss any other issues we encounter within the role.

Life as a clinical contact tracer

Admittedly, it has been a slow start for us and we are not getting as many cases as we initially thought.

I see this as a big positive; firstly from a public health point of view, there’s not as many positive tests in need of tracing. Secondly, we can utilise this time to ensure we are up to date with all the evolving training modules that get released weekly. Therefore, we are best prepared for any difficult cases that do come through. Thirdly, it also allows us to really spend time with each call we have with patients who have the virus. We can provide thorough self isolation advice for them and their household, and accurately trace as many contacts as possible. This helps to reduce the spread of this deadly virus and get us all back to as close as normal as possible.

We have recently been assured the programme is here to stay as long as the virus is still around. As we all begin to ease back into some form of normality, I think it’ll be an increasingly valuable tool to the nation. Track and trace will help alert and contain local outbreaks, minimising the harm and devastation this virus can cause.

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