A pub landlord has criticised the NHS Test and Trace system after issues with contacting customers during a recent coronavirus scare.
Four people tested positive for Covid-19 after drinking in pubs in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, on 31 July and 1 August.
Despite the pubs requesting customers’ details Derbyshire health experts said “a significant number” of pub-goers’ information was “illegible” or “wrong”.
A government spokesperson said NHS Test and Trace “is working”.
Derbyshire County Council said the four people who had tested positive drank in The Market Inn, The Observatory and The Harrow.
The council said steps had been taken by all three venues to carry out extra cleaning, to restrict customer numbers and to collect customer details for tracing.
But despite their efforts, the council said NHS Test and Trace found “a significant number” of customers had left “incomplete or illegible details”.
This led Erewash Borough Council to set up a temporary Covid-19 testing centre in the town centre.
Currently customers only need to provide their details on a voluntary basis, and there is no centralised system for collecting pub-goers’ details.
Market Inn landlord Peter Byrne said he had received “no guidance” from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on how to take customers’ details.
“We have a slip of paper, which asks for the name and address, phone number, and date and time in,” he said.
“I looked around what other people were doing, and it appears everybody’s doing something different. It’s confusing, there should be one system for everybody, I’ve been arguing for that since the beginning.”
He added that he expected some people “to write Mickey Mouse” on the slips because “not everybody wants to give their phone numbers”.
‘Room for improvement’
The DHSC said businesses had “the freedom to collect the data in a way that best suits them”.
A spokesperson added the test and trace system “is working” and “hundreds of thousands of people” had been contacted.
Derbyshire’s director of public health Dean Wallace said there was “always room for improvement”.
“I think the pubs in this case have done all they can, if we get to a place where a digital system, or people can do it via a mobile phone app, that would remove the issue of handwriting being difficult to read,” he added.
A temporary drive-through coronavirus test centre has been set up because of the four customers’ positive test results.
People who socialise in Ilkeston with coronavirus symptoms have been told to visit the test site at Erewash Borough Council’s Pimlico car park.
The centre will open on Friday, and closes on Monday.
Mr Wallace said it “is an opportunity” for Ilkeston “to act quickly” and suppress an outbreak.