SOUTHAMPTON'S Green party is calling on the government to hand over control of the test and trace system to local authorities.

Following the outbreak of the South African variant of Covid in Southampton in February, and and now again in South London, the Green Party has called on the government to decentralise its "calamitous" test and trace system and hand over control of the system to local authorities.

The demand comes soon after Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley led the party’s call for a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Green Party candidate for Portswood, Katherine Barbour, a former NHS worker, said: "Greens have always trusted in our local services.

"Lives could have been saved if Matt Hancock had taken our advice and funded local public-health teams to trace and contain the coronavirus rather than giving wasteful contracts to his friends who have utterly failed.

“The government’s test-and-trace system turned out to be a disaster for the nation, failing to prevent thousands of unnecessary fatalities and wider suffering for so many Britons.

"The government must be held to account for this failure. People can’t forget the pain this nation has experienced at their hands despite the vaccination programmes continued success."

She added: "Restrictions will be relaxed soon and we need an effective system in place to identify who is infected and isolate them from others.

"We also must ensure that people receive sick pay so they can afford to isolate themselves if asked to do so."

The national NHS Test and Trace service has been operational since May 28 last year, and a pilot service was launched in Southampton in December 2020.

Local call handlers have dealt with 868 cases and successfully contacted 428 residents since the pilot began.

The local service will now operate across the whole of Southampton, following its success in reaching residents that the national NHS Test and Trace Programme could not make contact with after an initial 32-hour period.

Southampton Test and Trace works in partnership with Public Health England and the national NHS Test and Trace Programme.

The Daily Echo contacted the Department of Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Office for a comment but they did not respond.