It appears nothing succeeds more than failure. Serco, one of the two corporations with key contracts to deliver the shambolic UK “test and trace” system has picked up another extension to its contract of up to £400m amid devastating new figures on how poorly the service is performing. The failures continue despite employing an army of management consultants on daily rates of up to £7,000: just 15% of test results are being returned within 24 hours, and only 46% of close contacts reached.
And while under-funded NHS trusts face the deadly combination of a second uncontrolled wave of Covid infections with winter pressures, together with financial penalties if they fail to reach performance targets set by NHS England bureaucrats, failing Serco has proudly announced a big increase in profits above its projections for the year, promising that the extra cash will be shared out with investors.
Health Minister Helen Whately has confessed that the contracts for the test and trace service explicitly contained no penalty clauses to deter Serco and call centre operator Sitel from failing to deliver, claiming – falsely – that “Contractual penalties are often unenforceable under English law.”
Full story in The Lowdown, 26 October 2020