England’s test and trace repeatedly failed to hit goals despite £22bn cost

Posted: December 14th 2020


£22bn down the line we seem to have replaced any interest in test and trace with the vaccine. I suspect in part because one suggests inconvenience and the other freedom! It will be interesting to see how this all pans out in the next month or so…

The government’s test-and-trace programme to combat Covid-19 in England has repeatedly failed to meet targets for delivering test results and contacting infected people despite costs escalating to £22bn, a damning official report has revealed.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the centralised programme is contacting two out of every three people who have been close to someone who has tested positive, with about 40% of test results delivered within 24 hours, well below the government’s targets.

The report said a target to provide results within 24 hours of in-person testing deteriorated to a low of 14% in mid-October before rising to 38% in early November.

Call handler contracts for those working on test and trace were worth up to £720m but many staff had very little to do, auditors said.

By 17 June, the utilisation rate – the proportion of time that someone actively worked during their paid hours – was 4% for health professionals and 1% for call handler staff, the report shows.