The NHS Test and Trace program “failed to achieve its primary goal” of allowing people to return to a more normal life despite being given sums of money that were “watery”, according to a report by MPs.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the results of the program were “mixed up” and a number of its objectives were “overstated or not achieved”.
He has now been handed the equivalent of 20% of the NHS ‘total annual budget – £ 37 billion over two years.
The committee also criticized the way the money was handled, stressing that the program had still failed to reduce the number of expensive contractors – who receive an average of £ 1,100 a day – and failed to develop a “flexible” approach to the use of laboratories have the “risks of wasting public money”.
Test and Traces “continued over-reliance on advisors is likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds,” the report said.
It focused on getting programs up and running rather than “paying less attention to making sure those programs were delivering the benefits they promised,” she adds.
And use of the services provided by the Program is “variable” as some vulnerable people are much less likely than others to take a test.
Bipartisan MPs said the program needed a “proper long-term strategy” as it moved to the new UK health security agency.
Dame Meg Hillier, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said, “The National Test and Trace Program received staggering amounts of taxpayers’ money amid a global health and economic crisis.
“It set bold ambitions, but failed to achieve it despite the enormous sums that are thrown on it.
“Out of 691 million lateral flow tests sent, only 14% had results, and who knows how many took the necessary action based on the results received, or how many were never used.
“The continued reliance on the overpriced consultants who ‘supplied’ this condition will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds alone.
“For this huge amount of money, we need to see a legacy system ready to go when needed, but it’s just not clear what it will show in the long run. This legacy must be a government focus if we are to see any value for the money spent. “
The conclusions of the report include:
– NHS Test and Trace “has failed to achieve its primary goal of breaking the chains of Covid-19 transmission and allowing people to return to a more normal way of life”.
– The program’s “continued over-reliance on consultants is likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds”.
– The use of the services provided by Test and Trace is “variable” and “only a minority of people with Covid-19 symptoms will get a test”, with some groups less likely to take tests than others.
– The programme’s laboratory approach and use of the contact center are “not yet flexible enough to meet changing demand and there is a risk of public money being wasted”.
MEPs have made a number of recommendations and suggestions for improving the program.
The test and trace program was quickly developed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, led by Baroness Harding, with the aim of testing the nation and tracing contacts of positive cases.
Dr. Jenny Harries, executive director of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said in a statement: “NHS Test and Trace (NHSTT) has played an essential role in combating this pandemic.
“As the Audit Committee admits, there have been improvements in testing capacity, turnaround times, and the speed and reach of contact tracing – and improved collaboration with local authorities.
The fact is, NHSTT saves lives every day and helps us fight Covid-19 by breaking chains of transmission and detecting outbreaks wherever they exist.
“There have now been more than 323 million tests across the UK. NHSTT has now contacted more than 19.9 million people to help slow the spread of the virus.
“Testing, contact tracing, and the defensive wall built by our immunization program are all fundamental to our ongoing efforts to keep people safe as we return to more normal lives.”
A government spokesman said: “We have rightly drawn on the extensive expertise of a number of partners in the public and private sectors who have been invaluable in fighting the virus.
“We built a test network from the ground up that can process millions of tests per day – more than any other European country – and provides a free LFD or PCR test to anyone who needs one.
“The new UK Health Security Agency will consolidate the knowledge that is now in our health system to help us deal with future pandemics and threats.”
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