The Guardian reports that the Department of Health and Social Care is set to create a new national framework for testing which would replace current arrangements, with further details released “in due course”. This would involve awarding coronavirus testing contracts worth an estimated £5bn to commercial bidders. Critics fear this is a “backdoor” subsidy to the private sector.
The vast new budget, which works out at £2.5bn per year and will be managed by Public Health England (PHE), is equal to the entire annual spend on English NHS laboratories. The new plan, outlined in a public notice, dwarfs the budget for the current framework. NHS sources said they had been told the cash would be used to fund an expansion of the private Lighthouse laboratories, created to boost Covid-19 testing capacity.
Full story in The Guardian, 2 July 2020