The UK government is laying the groundwork to expand its Covid-19 testing and tracking system to 2025 to mark how long officials fear the pandemic can continue, according to contracts announced recently. this.
The UK Health Security Agency, which carried out checks and tracing in October, has signed at least four contracts with consultants Deloitte and Voice mark regarding the delivery of the program, which is likely to last until April 2025.
The documents also indicate that travel restrictions may remain, at least intermittently, for several years.
Accenture has been asked to work on digital systems to “track and monitor compliance with international travel regulations regarding arrivals from red, amber and green countries.” “.
The transactions would total up to £111m if extended, suggesting health authorities have had contingency plans in place for Covid testing to continue for several years.
Under two of the new contracts with UKHSA, Deloitte company gets paid up to £67.2m for inbound contact tracing work and as a ‘shipping partner’ providing IT support. Two new Accenture contracts worth up to £43.9 million.
The agreements went into effect on October 29 and have an initial term of 18 months but can be extended for another two years.
“Health authorities want to ‘put in the void so they don’t get swept out if another emergency occurs’,” said one consultant.
Contracts were awarded despite downward pressure Reliance on external consultants to maintain inspection and monitoring systems.
Wes Streeting, shadow medical secretary, said: “The Conservatives are handing out significant taxpayer dollars to management consultants, every penny of which means less investment in the team. frontline workers who keep our NHS going.”
Deloitte has been awarded a £56.5 million contract by NHS Digital to continue to provide IT systems for the national pilot program until March 2022, taking the total value of the related public sector contracts. consultant’s pandemic-related issues in excess of £500 million. NHS Digital told the Financial Times a search for an IT service provider from April 2022 was underway.
The company paid its 691 partners more than 1 million pounds on average last year, was also hired by the Ministry of Health and Social Care to advise on Covid cards to enter hotel and entertainment venues.
Officials said in August that the number of consultants working on testing and monitoring had fallen in four months to 1,864 from a peak of more than 2,500.
“They need to abandon this approach, especially if it is likely to run until 2025,” said Meg Hillier, Labor MP and chair of the Commons public accounts committee.
In October, the committee found that despite being allocated a budget of £37 billion over two years, checks and failed to achieve its main goal reduce transmission and help get life back to normal.
“With that amount of money, they have repeatedly said that they want a legacy, and that the estate should not pay consultants on a regular basis. This should be the bread and butter for UKHSA,” Hillier said.
However, Craig Beaumont, director of external affairs for the Federation of Small Business, welcomed the contingency planning, saying that “for too long, comprehensive testing has not been a priority”.
“To keep their economies and operations open, businesses will need robust testing infrastructure alongside vaccine deployment. Covid will be with us for a long time. he said.
UKHSA says: “Relying on the expertise of our private sector partners to deliver specialized technology and services is often critical to our work to respond quickly and at scale. with health threats.
“We continue to build a strong team of general and specialist civil servants and are always recruiting into the civil service wherever we can.”
“The National Audit Office, the public account commission and government agencies all recognize that consultants can be an important source of skills and expertise for public sector organisations, ‘ said Deloitte.
The Ministry of Health and Accenture declined to comment.
Additional reporting by Daniel Thomas