Thank you to those of you who have contacted me about the provision of the Test and Trace service in England.
I share your concerns that the current system is fragmented, ineffective and not fit for purpose. Concerns have repeatedly been raised about the speed at which test results have been returned, the number of contacts of positive cases being reached, and the extent to which data about confirmed cases is shared with local authorities and local public health teams.
The outsourcing of Test and Trace to private firms has been widely criticised by experts, including the British Medical Association, which maintains that an over-reliance on firms such as Serco, Deloitte and Capita has hampered our ability to respond to the virus.
A report published recently by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) highlighted the “unimaginable” cost of Test and Trace and criticised the Government’s over-reliance on expensive contractors and temporary staff.
The conclusions of the PAC report – that Test and Trace has failed to deliver its central promise of averting a second and third lockdown – is a reflection on the failure of outsourcing. I am concerned that it underlies the vast amount of waste and incompetence.
While I recognise that the pandemic has been a significant challenge for the Government, the current fragmented system is failing to operate effectively. It is my view that the Government should urgently move away from this overly outsourced model and start localising contact tracing into our local public health teams.
I have long argued that local public health teams and the NHS would be more effective at contact tracing. Alongside other key local government staff, who know their local areas, local public health teams have years of experience in contact tracing and case finding
I will continue to make the case for a Test and Trace that is publicly run and administered, led by local areas, and backed with resources and national support.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.