News

Contact tracing information gathering

Published: 31 May 2020 00:01

Protecting data as part of Test and Protect.

Information used by NHS Scotland contact tracers will be safely and securely gathered as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) Test and Protect approach.

When contacting individuals who have tested positive, contact tracers will ask people to identify others who they’ve been in close contact with and places they’ve been 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms up until the time they’ve self-isolated.

This information will then be inputted into contact tracing software and used to identify and contact those identified.

The positive individual will not be named by the contact tracer in line with patient confidentiality, unless they agree to have their details disclosed to help the contact tracing process.

The data gathered will be stored securely by NHS Scotland and safely destroyed as soon as possible after the pandemic concludes.

Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman said:

“Contact tracers will be supported by software which builds on a tried and trusted platform and will allow us to securely carry out this work on a much larger scale than has been necessary until now.

“It will also focus on supporting public health teams identify outbreaks and reducing transmission in high risk groups and settings by making it easier for staff to collect and record information.

“We understand that people are alert to the risks of potential phone scams and Public Health Scotland is undertaking work to reassure people when they are contacted. The primary method of getting in touch will be by phone call or text message.

“Contact tracing is one part of our work to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical distancing and good hand and cough hygiene continues to play a vital role in helping to minimise the spread of infection.”

Background

Test and Protect was rolled out across Scotland on 28 May 2020.

What people can expect when called by a contact tracer:

  • contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify the call recipient by name
  • contact tracers will only ask for information about your movements and the people you have been in close physical proximity to
  • contact tracers will not ask for personal information like bank accounts, or medical records and will not offer services to you, or try to sell you anything
  • they may send a text message or email to provide links to online guidance and support

A privacy statement about the use of information as part of contact tracing can be found on the NHS Scotland site.