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)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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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

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

This conference will discuss policy options and next steps for the NHS test and trace service in England.

It includes a contribution from Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Chair, National Institute of Health Protection England; Executive Chair, NHS Test and Trace

The conference also looks ahead to priorities for the work of the new National Institute for Health Protection when it formally begins operating from spring 2021 and is due to take place shortly after new national restrictions are due to end.

Areas for discussion include the way forward for NHS test and trace in light of the new period of national restrictions including:

  • increasing testing capacity and the potential of mass screening
  • faster turnaround for test results and less intrusive testing methods
  • increasing success in close contacts being reached by the track and trace service
  • improving control and planning for local outbreaks
  • learning from the pilot of systematic testing in Liverpool and other areas
  • learning from successes and challenges so far

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DHSC; the MHRA; the Cabinet Office; the CMA; the Home Office; and DCMS.

The agenda:

  • Coordinating local emergency response planning and key capabilities of local government leading local test and trace efforts
  • Planning and implementing local outbreak control - local community engagement, utilising data, supporting vulnerable groups, and priorities for the 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

Key developments at a glance:

  • Government creates new National Institute for Health Protection - bringing together PHE, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS Test and Trace to advance the response to COVID-19 and to prepare the country for the next steps and longer term response to the pandemic
  • NHS COVID-19 app launches across England and Wales ­- with more that 16m downloads and issues including access, messaging and follow-up
  • ongoing developments - the city-wide testing pilots in Liverpool and elsewhere, and positive indications from the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine candidate
  • £500m funding for quick result COVID-19 test trials - government initiatives on raising testing capacity and rolling out latest technology
  • Summary of the effectiveness and harms of different non-pharmaceutical interventions - SAGE suggesting that the NHS test and trace system is having a marginal impact on transmission at the moment and outlining that the system needs to grow at the same rate as the pandemic
  • lockdown:
    • new national restrictions being introduced which require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes
    • a planned return to a  three-tier approach to local restrictions to address the localised rise in positive cases, at the end of the period of national restrictions 
    • local authorities to acquire more control of contact tracing and implement further measures to restrict the spread of the virus

Areas for discussion:

  • priorities for the NIHP:
    • its role - key issues for coordinating and informing local outbreak efforts
    • progress and moving forward - what more can be done to drive the test and trace programme. and what can be learnt thus far
    • collaboration - the potential impact of the partnership with Alan Turing Institute and Royal Statistical Society
  • management of COVID-19 in local areas:
    • resources - assessing the level and potential use of extra funding for local authorities to support test and trace, and recent efforts being made to strengthen contact tracing in local areas
    • partnership opportunities - with joint working between local authorities being extended, strategies for coordinating the local response to COVID-19 test and trace, providing local leadership, and learning from and sharing best practice
    • implementation - developing local outbreak control plans, putting in place regional approaches to control the pandemic, and ensuring there is capacity available to achieve local aims
    • utilising local assets - the integration of local health systems into the care response
    • improving contact tracing locally - progress and next steps in identifying and containing local outbreaks and key lessons from the implementation of local lockdowns
    • population health - using data to understand the local area and its needs, target health inequalities and provide support to vulnerable groups
    • effective messaging - engagement with local community groups, services and businesses, utilising local networks and communicating the importance of the programme to the public
    • enforcement - securing self-isolation and quarantine of those contacted, adherence to lockdown measures by the local population, and the role of local bodies and emergency services
  • scaling up testing capacity:
    • accessibility - building up testing capacity across the country, reducing variation and tackling the challenges of delivering mass testing
    • capacity challenges - latest thinking on how they can be overcome to meet ambitions for increased testing, as well as ways of scaling up further
    • innovation and ramping up rollout -  assessing the research and development speeding up test results, making test less intrusive for individuals, the use of recently announced funding, and learning from the pilot city-wide testing recently announced in Liverpool and planned elsewhere
  • contact tracing:
    • the NHS COVID-19 app - tackling bugs, how it can be further improved, and strategies for increasing engagement with the service
    • close contacts - improving their identification and the number successfully reached by the test and trace service, effective measures to support those who are contacted, making sure they understand the implications and what is required of them and the discussions over reducing the quarantine times
    • data privacy and protection concerns - looking at how they have been addressed through the pandemic
    • learning from best practice - international test and trace initiatives and what can be learned to inform the NHS Test and Trace Programme

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department of Health and Social Care; the DCMS; the Home Office; the Cabinet Office; the MHRA; and the Competition & Markets Authority.

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

Keynote Speakers

Professor Madelynne Arden

Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Centre for Behavioural Science & Applied Psychology, Sheffield Hallam University

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

Baroness Harding

Interim Chair, National Institute of Health Protection England; Executive Chair, NHS Test and Trace


Daniel Zeichner MP

Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences

Rosie Cooper MP

Member, Health and Social Care Select Committee


Emma Wright

Director, Institute of AI

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

Professor Alex Richter

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, and Senior lecturer and Consultant in Clinical Immunology, University of Birmingham

Dr Chris Streather

Group Chief Medical Director and Deputy Group Chief Executive, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Alison Navarro

Chief Executive, Community Action Sutton