Westminster Health Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Scaling up the test and trace service in England and priorities for the National Institute for Health Protection

Morning, Thursday, 17th December 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will discuss the priorities for scaling up the NHS test and trace service in England, building testing capacity and improving contact tracing, as the new National Institute for Health Protection - whose primary focus is public health protection and infectious disease - is established ahead of formally operating from spring 2021.

It will be an opportunity to discuss the progress of test and trace efforts, and the challenges facing the service going forward, including:

  • Increasing testing capacity and the potential of mass screening
  • Faster turnaround for test results and less intrusive testing methods
  • Increasing proportions of close contacts reached by the track and trace service
  • Improved control and planning for local outbreaks and learning from those that have occurred so far
  • Widespread and inclusive use of a COVID-19 app - due for release shortly

The agenda:

  • Coordinating local emergency response planning and key capabilities of local government leading local test and trace efforts
  • Developing and implementing local outbreak control plans - engaging with local communities, utilising data to support vulnerable groups, and working with the new National Institute for Health Protection
  • National health protection capability, supporting local authorities to manage outbreaks and driving forward the test and trace programme
  • Priorities for scaling up testing capacity, improving accessibility and taking forward new generations of testing
  • Utilising behaviour change methods to drive trust, uptake and support in the NHS Test and Trace programme
  • Improving contact tracing, the role of a COVID-19 app, applying digital methods to tracing, and learning from international test and trace efforts

The context at a glance:

  • The creation of a new organisation which brings together PHE, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS Test and Trace as part of the National Institute for Health Protection to advance the response to COVID-19 and to prepare the country for the next steps and longer term response to the pandemic
  • The NHS test and trace business plan published in July which sets out its ambitions for the next 3 to 6 months, including plans for testing capacity to reach 500,000 a day by October
  • Funding and efforts to support local authorities implement and strengthen test and trace in their areas and develop local outbreak control plans
  • The recent announcement of a £500m funding package for testing using the latest technology, developing the next generation of testing and increasing testing capacity
  • Recent testing capacity challenges with people struggling to access tests, laboratories finding it difficult to process the tests, areas having to be prioritised for testing and people being offered tests outside of their local areas
  • A recent rise in cases through the start of September that has caused the Government to bring in new measures, including limiting the size of social groups
  • A release date for a COVID-19 app in England and Wales being recently announced as businesses are encouraged to engage with the app ahead of its start date on the 24th September, whilst trials are taking place in the Isle of Wight, Newham and with NHS volunteers

The discussion in detail:

National health protection capability and implementing local outbreak control plans

Following the creation of a National Institute for Health Protection - which combines PHE, NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre in an organisation that will take forward the national response to COVID-19 and provide wider health protections, delegates will consider:

  • Priorities for the new body and the role of the institute in coordinating and informing local outbreak efforts
  • What more can be done to drive forward the test and trace programme and what can be learnt thus far

With local authorities receiving extra funding to support test and trace and recent efforts being made to strengthen contact tracing in local areas, and with partnerships with local authorities being extended, delegates will discuss the management of COVID-19 in local areas, including:

  • Coordinating the local response to COVID-19 test and trace, providing local leadership and learning from best practice
  • Developing local outbreak control plans, assessing ways of implementing regional approaches to control the pandemic and ensuring there is capacity for implementation of plans
  • Using local health systems as part of an integrated care response
  • Improving contact tracing locally
  • Progress in identifying and containing local outbreaks and key lessons from the implementation of local lockdowns
  • Using data to understand the local area and its needs, target health inequalities and provide support to vulnerable groups
  • Engagement with local community groups, services and businesses, utilising local networks and communicating the importance of the programme to the public

Priorities for scaling up testing capacity, improving accessibility and taking forward new generations of testing

The agenda also includes sessions on the priorities for scaling up the testing capacity of the NHS Test and Trace programme, with discussion looking at:

  • Building up testing capacity across the country, reducing variation and improving accessibility
  • Overcoming the recent capacity challenges, meeting ambitions for increased testing to 500,000 a day by October and ways of scaling this up further
  • The research and development into increasing the turnaround times of test results, as well as making them less intrusive with a £500m funding package announced recently
  • Opportunities and benefits of mass screening, and the challenges of delivering mass testing

Improving contact tracing and the development of a COVID-19 app

Further sessions will examine what more can be done to improve contact tracing and increase engagement with the service, including:

  • How to improve the identification of close contacts and the number of them successfully reached by the test and trace service
  • The effectiveness of measures in place to support those who get contacted, making sure they understand what this means and what is required of them
  • The role of a contact-tracing app in improving tracing efforts as the new decentralised model is being trialled on the Isle of Wight, Newham and by NHS Volunteers, and the progress of the app as it launches from the 24th September
  • Data privacy and protection concerns around the NHS Test and Trace programme, how these have been addressed through the pandemic, enabling the safe use of data to contribute to the response to the pandemic
  • International test and trace efforts and what can be learned from their experiences to inform the NHS Test and Trace Programme

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from representatives from the NHS including clinical staff, Public Health England, local government, integrated health systems and CCGs, community organisations, public health professionals, diagnostics, healthcare professionals involved in the development of digital healthcare solutions, data analytics and data processing professionals and businesses, third sector, patient groups, research and development institutions, law firms and consultancies, academics and think tanks, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Professor Kate Ardern

Director of Public Health, Wigan Council and Lead Director of Public health for Health Protection and Emergency Planning, Greater Manchester Combined Authority


Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu

Regional Director of Commissioning, NHS England and NHS Improvement North West

James Roach

Programme Director, Integrated Care, NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group

Jason Strelitz

Director of Public Health, Newham Council