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Part of Coronavirus programme updates 19 June 2020

Delivering digital services for the Test, Trace, Contain and Enable (TTCE) programme

Delivering robust, scalable and secure services for the coronavirus (COVID-19) TTCE programme through provision of digital infrastructure, live service operations, cyber services and service design expertise.

Close up image of the coronavirus COVID-19.

Current Chapter

Current chapter – Delivering digital services for the Test, Trace, Contain and Enable (TTCE) programme

Our role

Since March 2020, NHS Digital has been the key delivery partner for the digital infrastructure for ‘Pillar 2’ testing, working alongside an increasing number of other third parties. During late May and June 2020 the TTCE organisation formed and started to formalise its operating structure. On 17 June 2020 it was formally announced that we will be the digital delivery partner for TTCE going forward and we are now working to define the operating model and formalise supply chain arrangements under our command.

Digital platform for testing

Antigen testing


  • implemented changes to strengthen the digital infrastructure and expand testing functionality
  • enhanced data provision to the tracing service
  • introduced continuous processing for files and SMS from 8am to 6pm (previously one batch each day)
  • delivered changes to support testing of children under 5
  • added fields to capture ethnicity
  • initiated pilot on 15 June 2020 to ensure patients tested ahead of elective procedures - patients from 5 acute trusts will receive text messages directing them to request home testing kits 7 days ahead of elective surgery for specific, low-risk specialities. The pilot has started with low numbers of patients, with target to increase to 500 tests per day across the 5 Trusts. Strategic solution to support restarting the system is being developed in parallel.

Antibody testing

We started the build-out of the existing digital platform for antibody testing. The target for release of the minimum viable product is mid-July 2020 - it will leverage the home testing functionality developed for antigen testing. Decisions on eligibility for antibody testing are being progressed outside of NHS Digital.

Sending test results to GP systems

We delivered the new middleware solution on 12 June 2020 so new test results can be automatically sent to GP systems.

~45% of new results cannot be automatically sent due to data quality issues (for example mis-spelt names). An additional matching process has been established for these records (target go-live is 26 June 2020). Additional, up-front verification is planned for July to maximise data quality going forward

Results of historic tests had been stored by NHS Digital until they could be sent to GP systems. ~90k historic test results have been sent to GP systems.

~1.7m historic results with missing or incorrect demographic data will be matched through the remediation process described above and will be sent to GP systems starting 26 June 2020.

Live services


  • mobilised a Testing Live Service Operations team, operating from 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week to ensure reliability, performance and security of digital infrastructure of testing
  • established out of hours cover for all high-severity service incidents - all high-severity incidents impacting live service have been responded to and resolved under hyper-monitoring of the service
  • took full control of all 12 test centre releases since 22 May 2020, through the Live Service Operations team

Test, Trace, Contain and Enable (TTCE)

Enabling people to access services and take appropriate action at the right time requires full coherence across systems developed by NHS Digital, PHE, NHS BSA and NHS X (via third parties).

Systems for Trace

Manual tracing services were stood-up using the (PHE-owned) CTAS and Synergy systems. Greater functional capability is now required, and NHS Digital has been asked to work with the TTCE CTO to determine whether major extensions to CTAS or deployment of an alternative third party solution is preferable. We will then lead delivery of the target solution.

NHS Digital has had no involvement in the design or build of the NHS COVID-19 Tracing App, development of which was stalled on 18 June 2020. We are supporting work to define strategic options for the future of this app. 

Contain: Data dashboards for local government

We delivered interactive, private dashboards on 12 June 2020 to show the number of tests completed per 100K population and number of positive COVID-19 tests. ~500 authorised users from local authorities, CCGs, PHE and central government are currently using the dashboard. Work is underway to provide lower-level geographic views to support local responses to potential outbreaks.

End-to-end service design

We completed a review of digital services supporting initial triage, testing and tracing for coronavirus to ensure coherence between services rapidly established by PHE, BSA, NHS Digital and NHSX (via third parties). This highly collaborative exercise leveraged NHS Digital’s recognised system leadership role in content, design and user research. Further user research is currently underway with “seldom heard” groups to ensure their needs are fully understood and the service is designed to work for all citizens.

The service design review led by NHS Digital across Test and Trace has provided a clear framework for achieving coherent user journeys and ensuring consistent public health messages across services.

Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC)

We rapidly established cyber security services for NHS Test and Trace and have matured the capability for incident response, protective monitoring and operational management since go live on 22 May 2020.

Live services

We have established additional service monitoring for all critical COVID-19 data services, dashboards and the Contact Tracing and Advisory Service (CTAS).

Last edited: 25 June 2020 8:57 am