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Test & Trace private consultants £1 million a day


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England’s Covid test and trace spending over £1m a day on consultants


England’s flagship test-and-trace service is still spending more than £1m a day on private consultants, official figures reveal weeks after MPs lambasted it as an “eye-watering” waste of taxpayers’ money that is failing to cut Covid infection levels.


Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), who is responsible for NHS test and trace, told MPs in July there was a “very detailed ramp-down plan” to cut the number of consultants.


But latest figures show that at the end of October it employed 1,230 consultants. Test and trace has average daily contractor rates of £1,100, potentially equating to £1,353,000 a day.


At the same time, new contracts worth millions of pounds are still being awarded to private consultancy firms, the Guardian has found, despite repeated pledges to curb their use.


The government has quietly published details of at least seven new NHS test-and-trace deals with private contractors, together worth more than £17m. One runs until at least September 2023.


The revelations come after a report by MPs concluded that test and trace had “not achieved its main objective” to enable people to return to a more normal way of life.


Meg Hillier, the chair of the committee, said she was concerned the organisation was treating taxpayers like an ATM machine.


Some of the private consultants have been paid rates of more than £6,000 a day.



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