It’s often hard to remember what day it is during lockdown – let alone who you might have bumped into during the past couple of weeks.
But for NHS test and trace workers that’s exactly what they need to do.
Trace worker Atif Hussain, from Rochdale, is usually a Locum Optometrist providing routine and acute eye care.
But the 32-year-old has been using his experience of talking to patients on a day to day basis to play his part to help save lives by stopping the spread of coronavirus.
As an NHS Clinical Contact Caseworker, his job is to call people that have tested positive for coronavirus.
And staff have been trained to use special ‘memory jogging’ techniques to help members of the public build up a picture of who they have been in recent close contact with.
Atif (above) explains: “As an optometrist I give advice and information to people about their eye health and general wellbeing. I am very used to dealing with anxious patients and regularly reassure and support them through bad news. So, when I read the job description, I instantly knew my skill set fitted perfectly and that I could make a vital contribution to the national effort.
“One person I spoke to was working in a homeless shelter and was routinely tested at work. Through using memory jogging techniques, I unravelled that two weeks before this person tested positive they had experienced a sore throat and had felt unusually unwell for 24hours.
“They had continued to work as they did not think they had coronavirus. That meant they had potentially transmitted the virus to work colleagues and the public over the last couple of weeks. I gathered the details of their close contacts and escalated this case to my contact tracing colleagues in Public Health England. This meant quick action could be taken to temporarily close the shelter, disinfect it and help stop further transmission.”
Through NHS Test and Trace, Atif has been able to support vulnerable people above and beyond advising on symptoms, isolation and gathering contacts.
He adds: “I reassure people that all the information they share with me is held securely in line with data protection and is solely used to protect their family, friends and the wider public. This information is then passed onto my contact tracing colleagues who will call the identified close contacts, check on their well-being and ask them to self-isolate for 14 days to stop further transmission of the virus.”