As the UK starts to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, focus is being directed towards the government’s strategy to test people to see who has the virus, and then track who they’ve been in contact with. A smartphone app will help with this process in some areas. In other parts of the UK, the system depends on contact tracers, whose job it is to speak to or email people who might be at risk. There’s a huge recruitment drive to get as many people as possible trained up. Here’s what you need to know if you think you’d be good at the job.
Don’t I Need Medical Training?
Some of the roles in contact tracing are reserved for people who have some sort of medical training. Nurses who don’t want to be back on the ward, or recently retired doctors are being encouraged to take up contact tracing jobs, which will allow the to use their medical skills and knowledge. However, there are many other roles within the sector which do not require specialist medical knowledge.
The NHS have a need for people who are skilled in administration and customer service, as well as people who have medical training. Many of the roles can be done online, or at home after an initial period of training. As nobody can predict how the coronavirus epidemic will develop, these roles could be perfect summer jobs for students, or short-term employment possibilities for people who are furloughed from their full-time position. Search online for jobs to see what is available through the NHS in your local area.
Even though many of the contact tracing jobs involve working from home or online, without any direct patient contact, most staff who are working in contact tracing will require a DBS Check. The NHS processes thousands of DBS checks annually and has considerable expertise in getting these processed as quickly as possible. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, rules around DBS checks have been relaxed. The Disclosure and Barring Service are now fast-tracking applications from people who will be working in the NHS. In the first instance, this means a quick preliminary search of the records and a check against the central register of people barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. If this initial check comes back clear, then the applicant can start work straight away. The full certificate will follow in due course.
If you are thinking about applying to be a contact tracer, the other paperwork required will depend on the role. Everyone working in the UK has to be able to prove they are in the country legally. The NHS trust will therefore ask to see your passport, or a visa proving you have the right to live and work in the UK. For technical roles, you might be asked for certificates to prove any qualifications or experience you are claiming. Interviews are mainly being held over the telephone, or on video conferencing to take account of social distancing requirements.