Hackney MPs Meg Hillier and Diane Abbott have joined with Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, to issue a challenge to the Government: Hackney is willing to be a pilot area like the Isle of Wight for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

They say in a letter to Matt Hancock, Health Secretary:

“We confirm that Hackney would be willing to be a pilot area for this important work, which will be essential as we move to the next phase of the crisis. Our population is very different to the Isle of Wight – young, ethnically diverse and with a clear digital divide.

“We also have high levels of poverty, overcrowded housing, low paid workers in essential jobs and these are likely to have contributed to the higher death rate in Hackney (127.4 per 100,000) reported as the third highest in London in the ONS figures released on Friday.”

The MPs and Mayor said that they would be happy to work with officials “or to draw up a proposal ourselves, working with public health colleagues in London and PHE”.

They have told the minister that there is in-house capability in the Council’s public health team, as well as resources in environmental health, sexual health and the local health system, the latter being already critical in supporting social care services.

“We have also been overwhelmed with local volunteers who could be trained as additional contact tracers.”

They add: “The political and professional leadership of the Council is dynamic, practical and has done a good job delivering services during the coronavirus pandemic. It has a solid track record of delivery and sound financial management.”

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South & Shoreditch

In an earlier letter to the Secretary of State, Mayor Glanville urged him to fulfil a commitment to keyworkers to have immediate access to coronavirus testing.

He said: “We urge your Department to make urgent funding and resources available to local authorities to help deliver these vital testing, tracking and tracing efforts to isolate those affected, shield our most vulnerable residents and protect our frontline workforce, and involve us in the detailed planning for this next phase.

“Public health has again become a core function of local authorities like Hackney and it must be at the heart of the next phase of the crisis. It simply won’t be good enough to find out about the next phase of the emergency response, especially on contact tracing and testing, at a 5pm press conference when residents are looking to us to provide an integrated response.”

Hackney Mayor, Philip Glanville

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14b – From Meg Hillier, Diane Abbott and Mayor Glanville re Hackney Council testing and tracing (1)

14 – Letter to Matt Hancock from Mayor Glanville and Cllr Kennedy re testing 4 may 20

7 May 2020

 

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