England’s test and trace service is being sub-contracted to a myriad of private companies employing inexperienced contact tracers under pressure to meet targets, a Guardian investigation has found.
Under a complex system, firms are being paid to carry out work under the government’s £22bn test and trace programme. Serco, the outsourcing firm, is being paid up to £400m for its work on test and trace, but it has subcontracted a bulk of contact tracing to 21 other companies.
Contact tracersworking for these companiestold the Guardian they had received little training, with one saying they were doing sensitive work while sitting beside colleagues making sales calls for gambling websites.
- Two-thirds of the private sector capacity that was block-purchased by NHS England was left unused over the summer
- Unprecedented block contracts in place for almost all the private hospital capacity, thought to be worth around £400m per month
- Comes as waiting times for elective care and diagnostic tests have steeply increased
- Capacity to carry out chemotherapy treatment was among that not fully used
- Insiders blame confusion and communication over contracts, and some argue the contracts were not needed
This article is from 28 March 2018:
There are many things policymakers can do to fight fake news and propaganda. New legislation for websites could require transparency about sponsored content and who is financing them, and the amount of money for sponsored content could be capped. They could attempt to clearly define illegal hate speech.
But they must be careful to avoid creating incentives for mass removals — and ensure they don’t find themselves mimicking the behavior of authoritarian countries.