Contact tracers in England were locked out of their work accounts this morning, preventing them from reaching people who could have contracted coronavirus, Sky News understands.
A Tier 2 COVID-19 contact tracer has told Sky News that anyone whose Amazon Web Services (AWS) account was activated on 13 May had been unable to log in.
AWS provides the infrastructure for the coronavirus test and trace system being used in England, which was set up by NHS England and customer management business Sitel.
Sky News has contacted Sitel and Public Health England for comment.
It is not known how many contact tracers have been affected by the sudden expiration of their passwords, but a contact tracer who spoke to NHS Professionals was told: “A lot of workers have contacted us about this.”
NHS Professionals is a staffing agency that supplies tens of thousands of doctors and nurses to UK hospitals.
At the service’s launch on 27 May, the government said it had 25,000 contact tracers ready to go.
These tracers are split into tiers:
- Tier 3 workers are call handlers who don’t have any medical experience
- Tier 2 workers have clinical backgrounds
- Tier 1 workers are Public Health England employees
Sky News understands that workers from all three tiers had been registered during the beta trial of the service on 13 May.
In a Facebook group for contact tracers, numerous staff have expressed concern that they can’t log in to work and potentially won’t be paid.
One user on the group wrote: “Just tried to log on for my shift and AWS is saying my password has expired and I need to contact an administrator. Does anyone know if this is Sitel and on which number I should call please?”
The password reset site run by Sitel has also crashed, a source told Sky News.
Contact tracers who have phoned the company about their issues have been told to wait, and informed that Sitel can’t reset their passwords over the phone for security reasons.
One worker on Facebook told others they needed to contact NHS Professionals using the live chat feature to let them know about the problems, in order for a note to be made on their profiles so that they will still be paid.
“For anyone having problems logging onto AWS this morning because of their password being expired: You need to contact NHSP on the live chat to let them know you are having problems and they will make a note on your profile so that you still get paid,” they said.
“I have just asked if everyone needs to do this and they said yes,” they added.