As we pass the one-year mark since the WHO declared a pandemic, I have just pulled out of the NHS Test and Trace programme and instead put myself on the reserve list in case of future crises. Political and commercial nepotism has led to justifiable criticism of the programme, but that has meant some excellent work by frontline NHS staff has been largely overshadowed. So, I am going to attempt to partly redress the balance.

First, some figures from the NHS. Last week, 88.6% of those testing positive were reached, offered advice and support, and asked to provide information about their contacts, 93.9% of whom were then reached and told to self-isolate. This is an effective service, and no £3,000-a-day consultants can persuade me otherwise.

Like many ECPs, I joined up last April as a level 2 case worker but only started case work from November, dealing with ‘problem’ cases transferred from the level 3 call centres. ECP experience was good grounding for this; less useful was the Sitel corporate script I was supposed to dictate from, automaton-like, which even included a cheesy ‘how was this call for you?’ line. Was the money spent on this well-directed? Was enough spent on public education to reduce the time I wasted explaining things for the first time before checking contacts and checking well-being? Was there good reason I had to waste time finding out about help and support for cases at the other end of the country rather than working with familiar, local services?

I am confident we are now prepared for future infection, just as South East Asia was this time in those countries with effective test and trace. But might a highly paid consultant prefer to start a new one with a minister’s drinking buddy?

Stop press! Excellent new European guidance on myopia intervention just out and free to download at Axial length is important.