In seven short months, testing and tracing for coronavirus has become as important a public service as treating heart attacks, catching criminals and fighting fires. So, our new national test and trace service has to work. It would be easy to pretend that this is just a task for NHS Test and Trace. But, as in lockdown, we all have a role to play. Getting a test if we’ve got symptoms. Providing contacts quickly if the test proves positive. Self isolating if we’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Doing all this quickly, given that we can pass the virus on to our friends and family without knowing, particularly in the 48 hours before symptoms begin.

But we can’t do any of this without NHS Test and Trace doing its job. Making it easy to book and take a test. Providing the right number of tests in the right places, close to where we live and work. Processing the tests rapidly and accurately so the right result comes back the next day. Mobilising effectively to deal with local outbreaks.  

This long read explores what NHS Test and Trace needs to prepare for winter and manage a potential second spike of infections.

NHS Providers' role is to represent NHS trusts providing acute, community, mental health and ambulance services so we have a particular perspective on the development of NHS Test and Trace. However, we also recognise that our national testing strategy should be informed by a full debate with professionals from public health the epidemiological and scientific communities, politicians and local authorities.