MPs say ‘no clear evidence’ Test and Trace scheme works in critical report

A cross-party group of MPs has said there’s “no clear evidence” the £22bn Test and Trace scheme contributed to lower coronavirus (Covid-19) infection levels. “Staggering” Meg Hillier, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) behind a critical report, urged the government to justify the “staggering investment of taxpayers’ money”. The MPs said ministers had justified the vast expenditure on preventing a second national lockdown. But they they questioned the programme’s effectiveness noting that England is currently living under its third lockdown. They also urged the scheme, led by Tory peer Dido Harding, to “wean itself off” reliance on thousands of “expensive” consultants and temporary staff. Some of…

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Financial watchdogs criticise government’s car crash handling of Test and Trace

Financial watchdogs have sharply criticised the government’s handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) Test and Trace operation and insisted it must do better.Not enough and too fewNot enough test results are delivered within 24 hours, and too few contacts of infected people are being reached and told to self-isolate, an interim study by the National Audit Office (NAO) found. With the budget for the Test and Trace service for 2020-21 soaring to £22bn, the financial watchdogs said the situation needed to improve.The NAO found that while the government had “rapidly scaled up” the operation from a low base, at times “parts of the national tracing service have barely been…

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Boris Johnson shamelessly uses an MP’s Covid diagnosis to plug his failed Test and Trace system

Boris Johnson has, once again, made news headlines for being exposed to coronavirus (Covid-19). And yet again, Downing Street appears reckless in taking the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. Not one to miss a trick, the prime minister grabbed the opportunity to shamelessly plug the Test and Trace system in a home-made propaganda video. It’s a futile attempt to cover up just how much the Tories have failed us, and just how disgraceful the Test and Trace system has been so far. Flouting his own rules. Again. Tory MP Lee Anderson travelled from Nottinghamshire to meet with the prime minister inside No 10 on Thursday,…

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Serco profits soar while Test and Trace reaches lowest ever proportion of contacts

The NHS Test and Trace system has reached the lowest ever proportion of contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) in England.Four in 10 close contacts of people who tested positive are still not being reached by the system, at the same time as it recorded its highest weekly number of positive cases.A total of 137,180 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to 28 October – an increase of 8% on the previous week and the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.According to the latest figures, 59.9% of close contacts of…

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Firms urge government to sort out the outsourced Test and Trace system

The government needs to sort out the outsourced Test and Trace system because the welcomed extension to the furlough scheme is just a short-term fix, business leaders have said.They point out that it’s a key weapon in the fight against the virus, it would boost confidence, and mean workers are not asked to self-isolate without decent sick pay.Lockdown part twoPrime minister Boris Johnson, speaking at a Downing Street press conference, announced that non-essential retail and hospitality services will be forced to close – while schools stay open – during a four-week national lockdown.It means that pubs, cafes, and restaurants will shut, except for takeaway and delivery services, from…

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Pressure mounts on government to sack NHS Test and Trace chief

The government is resisting pressure to sack the head of NHS Test and Trace. It comes amid deepening concern from ministers and MPs that the system is failing to stem the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). “Untenable” Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis insisted that baroness Dido Harding was doing “a very good job”. This is after one Conservative MP called for her to be replaced by a senior military commander. However, Labour warned that Harding’s position was “untenable”, after it emerged that ministers were considering cutting the time people have to self-isolate if they’ve been in contact with someone who has the disease. They were considering the change because…

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Billions to track and trace

We need your help ... The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads. Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion. We have been fighting against an…

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MPs slam government for paying £7k a day to private sector Test and Trace consultants

Opposition MPs have slammed the government for paying £7k day rates to private sector consultants who’re helping the government to set up and run its testing system. Michael Gove has defended the practice. Sky News has reported that it had seen documents revealing Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was paid about £10 million for around 40 consultants to provide 4 months’ work. This was between the end of April and late August. The broadcaster said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) received a 10 to 15% discount from BCG. Its day rates for public sector work reportedly range from £2,400 to £7,360. The report comes amid ongoing criticism…

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Serco profits set to soar as contract for ‘broken’ Test and Trace system is extended

Outsourcing giant Serco has said it expects profits to exceed expectations in 2020 as a result of the uptick in work since the global pandemic. Updating the London Stock Exchange in an unexpected announcement, the company said the excess profits could now be returned to shareholders, with a consultation on dividend payments under way. The company which is leading the UK government’s Test and Trace scheme said it had achieved strong revenue growth in the three months from July, highlighting extensions to contracts to provide test sites and call handlers. Test and Trace has been described as a “broken system” and ‘unfit for purpose’. Satisfaction Serco bosses claimed…

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Test and Trace consultants paid ‘£7,000 day rates’ by government for ‘shocking broken system’

Private sector consultants are being paid day rates of around £7,000 by the government to help with its coronavirus test and trace system, according to reports. Sky News said it has seen documents revealing Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was paid about £10M for around 40 consultants to provide four months’ work between the end of April and late August.The broadcaster said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) received a 10 to 15% discount from BCG, whose day rates for public sector work range from £2,400 to £7,360 for the most senior consultants.Its report comes amid ongoing criticism of the government’s £12bn Test and Trace system. (PA…

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