PAC report lays bare ‘huge failings’ of Test and Trace system and ‘scandalous’ waste on private sector, says BMA

by BMA media office

Press release from the BMA. 

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 10 March 2021
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Responding to the Public Accounts Committee report1 into the NHS Test and Trace system in England, which details the enormous amount of money spent on the private sector and the inadequacies of the system itself, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“This report lays bare the huge failings of the Test and Trace system and the scandalous, eye-watering sums of money wasted on the unaccountable private sector as opposed to the public sector. The already established and experienced public health teams could have done much more with much less resource and were significantly hindered by a catalogue of errors they had to deal with owing to the shortcomings of the contract tracing system.

 “The BMA has consistently raised concerns about its inadequacies, from a lack of accessibility, to processing issues and delays - all of which undoubtedly contributed to greater infection spread. The process simply did not work as a proper proactive system, making it much harder to identify local outbreaks and control spread, thus leading to more restrictive measures and further lockdowns.

 “While not solely to blame, the ineffectiveness of Test and Trace has contributed to a higher number of cases, greater pressure on the NHS and ultimately a higher death toll – now the highest in Europe. 

 “An overreliance on outsourcing functions to the private sector to run Test and Trace has been clearly a huge part of the problem, and this stands in stark contrast to the success of the NHS-led vaccine roll out. It is vital that the Government is held accountable over this prolonged failure and accepts the recommendations in this report as well as ending its reliance on the private sector for such operations. Following a decade of huge public health funding cuts, this is a vital lesson in the importance of funding national and local public health services for the future.”

Notes to editors

  1. For further info on the report please contact: Jessica Bridges Palmer - 07917 488 489.