23rd Oct, 2020

End the “scandal” of test-and-trace outsourcing, Coventry MP challenges Boris

COVENTRY South MP Zarah Sultana yesterday (Tuesday September 22) summoned Boris Johnson to end the “scandal” of test and trace outsourcing.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Sultana told Boris Johnson “the Prime Minister calls it ‘NHS Test and Trace’, but wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it Serco Test and Trace? It’s been outsourced, like other health contracts, often to friends or family of Tory MPs, lining their pockets while taking the public for a ride.”

Last Thursday amid growing anger and lengthening queues at UK testing centres, Dido Harding, head of the £10bn NHS test-and-trace programme, told MPs: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.”

In spite of widespread criticism of the test and trace system,  Serco has been handed hundreds of millions of pounds worth of test and trace contracts. This includes a contract revealed last week that Ms Sultana highlighted was worth £45 million.

Serco’s chief executive is Rupert Soames, brother-in-law of Conservative MP Phillip Dunn and brother of former Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, while Health Minister Edward Argar was previously a chief lobbyist for the company.

Ms Sultana concluded her remarks saying: “These giant corporations put private profit before public health. Isn’t it time to end the scandal of outsourcing and bring these contracts into public hands for a genuine NHS Test and Trace?”

In response, the Prime Minister said: “We should reach out across the entire UK economy – and indeed the armed services – to help us deliver on this enormous project and we will continue to do so.”

A new poll, commissioned by We Own It and conducted by Survation, found that an overwhelming 74% of people want to see test-and-trace run publicly with just 14% disagreeing.

Speaking after her question, Ms Sultana said: “Public funds are pouring into these outsourcing contracts. It’s making a killing for friends and family of Conservative MPs, but it’s failing people in Coventry and across the country. It’s about time we ended outsourcing and put test and tracing in the hands of the NHS and local authorities.”

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