There is ‘no clear evidence’ Britain’s £22 billion Test and Trace scheme contributed to a reduction in
On Wednesday, the British parliament’s Public Accounts Committee decried the ‘unimaginable’ costs of the programme, saying the system has not yet proven its worth as there is little evidence of its overall effectiveness.
The MPs said ministers had justified the vast expenditure on preventing a second national
They also urged the scheme led by Tory peer Dido Harding to ‘wean itself off’ reliance on thousands of ‘expensive’ consultants and temporary staff, with some receiving £6,624 per day.
There is ‘no clear evidence’ Britain’s £22 billion Test and Trace scheme contributed to a reduction in coronavirus infection levels, a cross-party group of MPs have said. Pictured: Dido Harding, chair of the National Institute for Health Protection and head of the NHS Test and Trace system and Health Secretary Matt Hancock leave 10 Downing Street
‘Despite the unimaginable resources thrown at this project Test and Trace cannot point to a measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic,’ Hillier said.
‘The promise on which this huge expense was justified – avoiding another lockdown – has been broken, twice.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year promised a world beating test and trace system as part of the route out of the pandemic, though attention has now shifted to the rollout of vaccines.
He has laid out plans for a cautious but irreversible route out of the third national lockdown which began on January 5, based on an aim to give everyone a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July, as well as more regular testing.
Last year scientific advisers said Test and Trace was not significantly reducing the spread of the coronavirus. England then entered a second lockdown in the autumn.
Asked about the current impact of the system, Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance on Tuesday said the testing system was now good, and while the test and trace programme worked less well when infection levels were high, the system would take on renewed importance in the coming months.
Meg Hillier (pictured right speaking in the House of Commons) Labour party lawmaker and the chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) behind a critical report, urged the Government to justify the ‘staggering investment of taxpayers’ money’ on Test and Trace
The PAC said the programme does publish a significant amount of weekly data, including some that shows full compliance with the self-isolation rules relied upon by the scheme can be low.
But it criticised the data for failing to show the speed of the process from ‘cough to contact’ and therefore not allowing the public to judge the ‘overall effectiveness of the programme’.
The MPs also criticised the scheme for struggling to consistently match supply and demand for the service, and therefore ‘resulting in either sub-standard performance or surplus capacity’.
And they said it remained ‘overly reliant’ on contractors and temporary staff after having to initially act quickly to scale up the service rapidly.
The report said the scheme admitted in February that it still employs around 2,500 consultants, at an estimated daily rate of around £1,100, with the best paid consultancy staff on £6,624.
‘It is concerning that the DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) is still paying such amounts – which it considers to be ‘very competitive rates’ to so many consultants,’ the report said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year promised a world beating test and trace system as part of the route out of the pandemic, though attention has now shifted to the rollout of vaccines. Pictured: Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on Monday, March 8
general view of the entrance to the lateral flow testing centre February 22, 2021. The MPs said ministers had justified the vast expenditure on preventing a second national lockdown, but noted England is currently living under its third in questioning the programme’s effectiveness
After England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned of another ‘surge’ in the virus later in the year, the PAC called for ministers to set out how the scheme will ‘cost-effectively maintain a degree of readiness’.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget last week included an additional £15 billion for Test and Trace, taking the total bill to more than £37 billion over two years.
Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said the report shows the significantly outsourced system has ‘failed the British people and led our country into restrictive lockdown after lockdown’.
‘It underlines the epic amounts of waste and incompetence, an overreliance on management consultants, taxpayers’ cash splashed on crony contracts, all while ministers insist our NHS heroes deserve nothing more than a clap and a pay cut,’ she said.
Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Government’s refusal to increase statutory sick pay had ‘massively undermined Test and Trace’.
Pictured: Graphs showing the number of coronavirus infections per day in the UK (top) and number of coronavirus-ralted deaths in the UK (bottom)
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said nurses ‘will be furious to hear of the millions of pounds being spent on private sector consultants’.
The Government said a further 231 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Tuesday. There were a further 5,766 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
Data up to March 8 shows that of the 23,773,959 jabs given in the UK so far, 22,592,528 were first doses – a rise of 215,273 on the previous day.
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