Almost three in four people think failing private contractors Serco and Sitel should be booted out of their role running so-called “NHS Test and Trace” according to a Survation poll, as evidence mounts of serial incompetence, widespread non-availability of tests, disastrous software failures sending people on ridiculous long journeys for tests, and lengthening delays in getting test results.
But Tory peer Dido Harding, appointed as “testing czar” by Matt Hancock, has “strongly refuted” claims the system is failing. She also confesses to having been surprised by the “unexpected” increased demand for Covid testing … as the schools and universities reopened, people were urged back to offices, and more restrictions were lifted.
The failures of Serco and Sitel have been compounded by delays and failures in the five part-privatised “Lighthouse” laboratories which ministers insisted on setting up rather than expanding the existing network of NHS and public health laboratories.
A sixth Lighthouse lab in Newport has been delayed, and a seventh due to open next month – ignoring warnings from the Institute of Biomedical Science that the lighthouse laboratories have become “a parallel but disconnected testing stream for COVID-19,” and have “failed to deliver robust data”. The IBMS warned in June that “Links with clinical systems are still poor and the data generated raises more questions than it answers.”
Full story in The Lowdown, 28 September 2020