Greenwich Council has maintained it’ll pursue an increased amount of “input and control” over local efforts to combat coronavirus, after councillors voted in favour of breaking away from a national effort described as a “total shambles”.

Among the measures the authority had said it is considering is opening its own council-managed testing sites within the borough.

The authority would also look to use council staff to conduct contact tracing.

In a statement to the local democracy reporting service, the council said it was currently in discussions with the NHS, the Government and other London authorities regarding an increased level of independence from the national testing scheme.

“The council expresses deep concern at the ongoing issues of the test and trace service,” a spokesperson for the authority said.  

“Protecting the health of people who live and work in the borough is our highest priority, and the council motion reflects this aim.

“We are in discussions with other London boroughs, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that local authorities have an increasing level of input and control over the local testing offer and we are planning to roll out additional testing locations to improve access points to tests for local residents.”

“At this stage we ask residents to continue to use the test and trace service, but only if they have COVID-19 signs and symptoms or have been asked to get tested by a doctor or public health professional.   

“Details of next steps will be confirmed once we have more information.”

Councillors last month voted in favour of taking over control of coronavirus testing in the borough.

It came after residents in the borough were among those directed to locations as far away as central Scotland and rural Wales for coronavirus tests.

“There’s absolutely no denying…testing has been at the heart of the Government’s strategy but execution has been an absolute and utter scandal,” council leader Dan Thorpe, a staunch critic of the Government’s test and trace system, told the September meeting.

His opposite, Conservative leader Nigel Fletcher said “there is nothing to be gained” by himself and Labour leader Thorpe “having a slanging match”.

“We all share the frustrations and we all understand the anger about access to testing in this borough,” he said.

Greenwich already handles testing in care homes within the borough, the result of an agreement with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.