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Test and Trace

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

by Paul Plater

Image: NHS Test and Trace Logo / Credit:

What happens when you get Covid-19? In the UK the NHS Test and Trace system funnels you through next steps. Paul Plater, a quizzing professional and veteran call centre caller, was bemused, and yet comforted, by his encounter with the Test and Trace calling regime following a positive test.


Calling after Covid

As some of you will know, I have just crawled through my own Covid-19 episode. Yesterday I filled in the 111 survey sent to me. I found both the 111 and 119 services useful, informative and at times comforting. My self test PCR kit was dispatched promptly and arrived the following day. I completed the test, posted and waited.

On Saturday morning, I was informed I had Covid and I could go online to register or wait for a phone call from NHS Test and Trace. I was so ill I thought I would wait for the call.

The first call was one of those 'Hallo Hallo' calls. Defined as when you can hear the other person but are connected in no other way. This lasted about a minute before the phone went dead.

The second call came when my phone was on charge. The voicemail was a piece of music followed by a Welsh accent telling me to expect a call the next day. It arrived on Sunday morning, a French girl. Together we set about retracing my steps. I was a bit surprised when I had to spell the city 'Brighton' and jokingly asked her where she came from?

'We are not allowed to say.'

The line became more difficult, one of those lines when you have the impression you are speaking to someone underwater. I suggested she call me back. After a few more watery noises I thought she must have agreed because the line went dead.

Hallo Hallo

The next call was another 'Hallo Hallo' call. Different person, foreign again, but male. The next call had me back on known territory. It started as a 'Hallo Hallo' call but then the music kicked in and I was told in a Welsh accent I would be receiving a call either in the evening or the next day.

The last call from NHS Test and Trace was made to me by a four-year-old child. It consisted of the mother negotiating the telephone back into her hands in French and then putting the phone down.

On Monday morning I received a call from my local council, Brighton and Hove City Council, working with the national Covid-19 Test and Trace service. I was informed I would receive a call from a Brighton number, or I could call them. I telephoned the number, gave my details.

'Hmm, I think Hannah is dealing with your case, I'll see if she is available.' Hannah duly appeared and noted I had partially answered some of the questions. I volunteered I had had seven calls and began describing them. Hannah professionally deflected my attempts to goad a response from her and the call was completed within seven minutes.

Dido Harding, your legacy lives on.... but, thank God, with modifications. And thank you Hannah!

This article was first published in December 2021 on Paul Plater's LinkedIn page.



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