Testing and tracing – an abject failure of management

Sir, – Your lead story "Tech issues slow down Covid-19 test and trace programme" (News, May 13th) made for depressing reading. The critical programme of testing and tracing is not fit for purpose because of the use of inaccurate manual systems, the absence of a system for laboratory information management, the fact that our hospitals operate on different computer systems so that their computers "don't talk to each other" and, wait for it, because we don't have a unique patient identifier system yet.

It has been acknowledged for months that a functioning test-and-trace programme was critical both to efforts to contain the spread of the virus and to plans to safely reopen the economy so that we can begin to pay for this disaster. And this is where we are.

We may be disappointed but we should hardly be surprised. If the entirely predictable annual winter flu results in chaos in our health system, it would be naive to expect that the response of our health bureaucracy to an onslaught of which we had only several months’ rather than the usual year’s notice might be any better than it has been. And, as ever, the issue has not been any lack of funding or any shirking of duty by our heroic doctors, nurses and hospital support staff. Rather it is, as ever, an abject failure of management. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 6.