he Scottish Tories are set to publish a policy paper on Tuesday, with one of the main recommendations to wind down Scotland’s Test and Protect scheme.
The “Back to Normality” document will call for the end of contact tracing in the coming months, with funds instead re-directed towards bolstering the NHS.
The Scottish Tories also said the performance of Test and Protect has declined in recent months, adding that the requirement for confirmatory PCR tests after a positive lateral flow test being dropped has made the scheme “less useful”.
But on January 5, the day before the change was made, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots who receive a positive lateral flow test to report their result online to begin the contact tracing process.
We are urging the Government to adopt a new, more targeted approach to Covid
“We are urging the Government to adopt a new, more targeted approach to Covid,” said Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane.
“We would place a higher emphasis on protecting vulnerable groups and trusting the public, instead of blanket restrictions such as mandating face masks in classrooms.
“One of the key proposals is replacing Test and Protect. It was incredibly useful in earlier stages of the pandemic but it has become increasingly redundant in recent months.
“We are nearing the point where Test and Protect is no longer an effective use of scarce NHS resources.
“As we start to move beyond the pandemic, our approach must adapt to fit the new situation.”
The document will be released on the same day as the First Minister is due to provide an update to MSPs on the state of the pandemic.
A Scottish Government spokesman said that Test and Protect “continues to deliver an effective public health function despite record numbers of cases”.
“As case numbers have risen, more people are being contact traced through digital channels – contact tracing resource continues to be targeted to best protect public health including ensuring our objectives of protecting the vulnerable and targeting high risk settings,” the spokesman said, who added the Scottish Government would publish its strategy on how it will deal with the coming stages of the pandemic later this month.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Lib Dems called for more action on long Covid, after recent figures showed about 1% of people who reported having suffered lasting effects of the virus being referred to a Government-funded support scheme.
Following an exchange between the First Minister and leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland – the charity who deliver the service – said it was a “missed opportunity” that GPs could not automatically refer to the scheme.
Ahead of the First Minister’s statement, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The charity want to see the First Minister ensure that automatic referrals are put in place across the county so that sufferers don’t miss out. She should use her statement to announce those changes.”
The Scottish Government spokesman said: “While data sharing agreements are a matter for NHS Boards and the organisations that they are collaborating with, and cannot be mandated by the Scottish Government, we have offered our support to facilitate engagement between NHS Boards and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland to help overcome any issues.”