Tag Archives: trace

Surge in Indian variant of Covid-19 shows what happens when you trust private firms with your health

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he took to referring to it constantly as “NHS test and trace” in the hope that people would blame the nationalised health service that had nothing to do with it. They didn’t.

Failures in a Covid-19 response system that some people didn’t realise was still working have made possible a surge in the Indian variant, according to a report seen by the BBC.

Despite £37 billion in public funding to the privately-run organisation behind the test and trace scheme, famously – and badly – run by ex-jockey Dido Harding whose husband happens to be the Tory anti-corruption tsar (ha ha!), or three weeks in April and May, eight local authorities in England did not have access to the full data on positive tests in their area.

That’s what you get when you trust private firms run by dimwits with your health.

And people have realised it:

They want action:

You can bet that Boris Johnson will delay as long as possible. He won’t want us to know any inconvenient facts.

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Serco profits have doubled – because the Tories PAID for its test-and-trace failure

The Tories have been pigging out on public money again: Serco is run by the brother of a former Tory MP who also happens to be the grandson of Winston Churchill.

Happy days are here again for government outsourcing firm Serco.

The company’s shareholders have enjoyed a £17 million dividend after the company doubled its profits in 2020.

What was the source of these profits? Government contracts to handle Covid-19, including huge amounts for ‘Test and Trace’.

And what did Serco provide in return for those contracts? Absolutely nothing, it seems. The National Audit Office said there was no evidence the £22bn programme had reduced rates of Covid-19 in England.

If that’s the case, then Serco failed to honour its contract, which was to deliver a system for tracking Covid-19 infections in order to isolate the people spreading the virus and stop it from progressing.

Why, then, did the government pay up?

Could it be because Serco is run by Rupert Soames, brother of former Tory MP Nicholas and grandson of legendary Tory PM Winston Churchill?

Could it be that Serco is yet another arm of the Tory ‘Chumocracy’?

If you’re in any doubt, remember this: Soames himself has pocketed a whopping £4.9 million for his contribution to the fiasco.

Source: Serco brazens out Covid calamity as the profits roll in | Serco | The Guardian

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Why are Tories hiding details of £37bn ‘Test and Trace’ boss’s meetings – on grounds of expense?

Useless: Tory money pit and expertise vacuum Dido Harding.

The hypocrisy is stunning. It seems clear that Dido Harding has done something embarrassing that Boris Johnson wants to hide.

That’s the only reasonable explanation for the Tory government’s decision not to honour a request for details of meetings she held with other people and organisations since taking on the job of running the ‘Test and Trace’ organisation that has cost £37bn so far.

The Tories are saying honouring the Freedom of Information request by the Good Law Project would cost more than the £600 permitted for such matters, but this is ridiculous; these details have been deliberately omitted from a schedule of all meetings held by Department of Health and Social Care officials, ministers and advisers on a quarterly basis.

We can only conclude that the government does not want us to know who Harding has been meeting, what they discussed, and how much money she spaffed away as a result.

£37 billion is an enormous amount of money. Some commentators have suggested that ‘Test and Trace’ is nothing more than a conduit through which the Tories are corruptly draining the public purse, pumping money into the hands of people who are already extremely rich, in order to make sure poor people who really need help are deprived of it.

This response from the government shows that it really has no answer to that.

One appropriate reaction might have been to refer the matter to the government’s anti-corruption champion – but that would be John Penrose MP, who happens to be her husband. People are having doubts that he’ll do his job properly, for some reason…

And they certainly aren’t accepting the Tory line on this:

Some have even gone for the nuclear option – denouncing Harding for a lack of credibility on a stellar scale:

The simple fact is that the government should have published details of Harding’s meetings and chose not to.

This has focused attention on them. People want to know who she met, what was said, whether any money changed hands (without going through the normal tendering process) and if so, how much.

The longer the Tories drag their heels, the worse it will be.

Perhaps Harding could save everybody the bother by going back through her diary and producing a list? That wouldn’t cost £600 or even 600 pennies.

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Johnson and Hancock are jeopardising Covid recovery by prioritising useless ‘Test and Trace’ over hardworking NHS staff

At breaking point: the UK’s National Health Service. The Tory government could make it better by paying NHS staff what they’re worth – but Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock have spaffed billions on Dido Harding’s useless and lazy ‘Test and Trace’ white elephant instead.

It has been calculated that a one per cent pay rise for NHS staff will cost around £82 million per year, or 0.22 per cent of the £37 billion that has been spaffed on Test and Trace as run by Dido Harding.

The full 12.5 per cent pay rise for NHS staff would cost £1.025 billion – only 2.75 per cent of the spending on Test and Trace.

And Test and Trace has been useless. Employees notoriously spent their days doing nothing at all – and being paid £1,000 per day to do it, while NHS staff slaved in conditions that made them highly vulnerable to Covid-19 because the Tories couldn’t be bothered to secure PPE for them.

Many NHS staff are working overtime or using credit to afford essential bills, visiting food banks so they can eat, and struggling with both mental and physical health problems.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s attitude seems to be, “So what? I’ve offered you one per cent, which is more than you thought you were going to get!”

He and other Tories have made false claims that nurses have actually received far more, already, than they’re saying.

But this is nonsense. The fact that they cannot afford to survive is clear evidence that they are not paid fairly.

Stunningly, Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defended the one per cent pittance, saying it is

“what we think is affordable”

Could the UK have afforded the deaths of millions if those doctors, nurses and support staff had not been there to keep Covid victims alive? Of course not. Hancock was talking gibberish. He rarely does anything else.

This Site broke news of health professionals’ disgust at the lack of respect being shown to them on Thursday – before any of the mainstream news sites. At the time, strike action was being demanded by only one group – Nurses United UK.

Now strike calls are being taken up by the British Medical Association, Unite, the Royal Colleges of Nursing and Midwives and Unison.

And what if an NHS strike happens before Boris Johnson’s arbitrary deadline for reopening the UK economy – which is already looking shaky because health professionals are planning for another wave of Covid admissions in July?

All his plans will be dashed – because he decided to pay Dido Harding and her minions to sit on their fat backsides rather than supporting our hard-working NHS staff.

Source: NHS pay: More health unions join backlash against 1% pay rise – BBC News

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ANYBODY could have predicted that Dido Harding would be wrong on Covid-19 mutation. Here are some of the funniest responses

Useless: Tory money pit and expertise vacuum Dido Harding.

Brace yourself because this is a doozy: Dido Harding, the wife of the Tory anti-corruption minister who was corruptly appointed to head the government’s Covid-19 test and trace organisation has just explained exactly why she should never have been allowed anywhere near it.

In front of a Commons select committee, she said, “Nobody could have predicted that the virus would mutate.”

This is a fact that is taught to seven-year-old children:

Doctors and scientists have been tracking Covid-19 variations since last spring – before Harding was appointed to run Test and Trace:

Her comment has created a torrent of hilarity:

This one is particularly pertinent:

And of course there is only one conclusion to be drawn:

She won’t because she doesn’t have to. No Tory ministers have been harmed by her stupidity.

Although, considering their own mentality, would they even understand it if they were?

But you and I need to know that imbeciles like this are responsible for our Covid-19 response and that is why the UK is the laughing stock of the world.

Johnson wants us to forget the £22 BILLION he wasted on ‘test, track and trace’. Why should we?

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he is trying to forget about it, concentrating on his new project: messing up the vaccination programme.

Boris Johnson’s recent speeches make it clear that he is pinning all his hopes for the defeat of Covid-19 on the recently-approved vaccines. Some hope!

He seems to have a pathological urge to interfere. So after Pfizer made it clear that vaccination consists of two doses of the same drug, three weeks apart…

… Johnson had to stick his oar in and demand that the jabs must be three months apart. Then he said the second injection might be of a completely different vaccine that works in a completely different way (after Oxford/AstraZeneca was approved). Now he’s saying people might only get a single injection.

He’s chasing positive headlines and the approval ratings that he thinks will come with them if he’s able to show that large numbers of the population have been injected. Fat chance!

The issue here is immunisation, not injection. The people who have had the vaccine might as well have been injecting heroin for all the good it will do them if they don’t get the booster shot of the same vaccine three weeks later.

They certainly won’t be immune to Covid-19 – in any of its forms – if Johnson gets his way.

His obsession with the vaccine indicates that he has turned his back on what was formerly the Great White Hope of his anti-Covid campaign: test, track and trace.

No doubt he hopes we will all do the same. Again, fat chance:

In fact, Johnson has now spaffed £22 billion on the scheme which was handed to private companies including the discredited Serco under the government’s emergency procurement system (meaning there was no process to find the best possible choice), to be run by former jockey and failed businesswoman Dido Harding (who is ironically married to the Tories’ anti-corruption chief).

Johnson’s hope that this would be swept under the carpet is forlorn. We already know that the system has been a catastrophic failure. According to The Guardian,

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.

Utilisation rates remained well below a target of 50% throughout September and for much of October. This means substantial public resources have been spent on staff who provided minimal services in return.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak went on the record to say public borrowing has to be reined in after the huge amount of expenditure related to Covid-19. This was before Johnson announced the so-called “Lockdown 3” and he had to shake the Magic Money Tree for another £4.6 billion to help businesses survive the next seven weeks.

Perhaps he should take steps to claw back the UK public’s £22 billion that was thrown away on a “test, track and trace” system that not only did not work but, it seems, was never serious in even trying?

Perhaps he should claw back the hundreds of billions that he and Johnson spaffed on other contracts, using their now-notorious “fast-track” procurement system to hand huge contracts to relatives of Tory donors or personal friends running cowboy operations, while ignoring bids by people with genuine expertise?

But no. There’s no hope of that happening!

It would require common sense – and there’s no sign of that in the Johnson government.

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If this is how Boris Johnsons’s test and trace system works, no wonder he’s self-isolating

Test: wouldn’t it be nice of the Randox operation – if it can be called that – had been found to have been running in a professional way? It wasn’t.

If you still think the Johnson government is doing a good job fighting Covid-19, you need to watch Channel 4’s Lockdown Chaos now.

The programme by the channels Dispatches team went behind the scenes at Randox, one of the private companies selected by Boris Johnson’s privatisation-crazy cronies.

You’d think this place must be the best testing facility in the world, after Johnson’s insistence that his government would have a “world-beating” test-and-trace system, earlier in the year.

Not a bit of it!

According to Channel 4’s report on the programme, its undercover footage includes:

  • The Dispatches reporter being told that used tests sent to to Randox for analysis are sometimes not unpacked properly and accidentally discarded with cardboard packaging waste. An expert who viewed the footage and has run an NHS pathology lab for 10 year said that not only does this mean people not getting their test results, it would present a contamination risk to waste handlers. He added, “We would be shut down if we performed that way.” Randox responded to Dispatches, saying there has “never been an issue of samples being mistakenly disposed of”. Staff are adequately supervised and instructed on the need to ensure “samples are correctly processed”.

  • Evidence that one particular type of red-lidded test sent to Randox frequently leaks and has to be voided meaning no results are available. Randox is aware the red lidded tubes are “more likely to leak” but say they do not manufacture them.  They say they “raised this concern” with the Test and Trace programme coordinators in August. The DHSC told Dispatches on Saturday that they have “started UK-based tube manufacturing with these tubes designed to minimise leakage.” These “will be in place across all Lighthouse labs and will mitigate against void results.”

  • During the undercover operation, the Dispatches reporter discovers that although leaking samples are often spotted whilst still in their plastic bag, this is not always the case. He finds that leaks from  tests can spill over the gloves of employees and is told by one staff member that his gloves aren’t always thrown away but sprayed down with disinfectant. During his time in the lab, he was told to place leaking samples – whether loose or still inside their bags – into a cardboard box.  Randox says a leaking tube “is not removed” from its bagging “under any circumstances,” so claim there is “no cross contamination.” An expert told Dispatches that this way of dealing with leaking tubes shows a “cavalier approach to safety” and could lead to cross contamination and potentially wrong test results. Randox say the boxes are disposed of as “clinical waste” and there is “no cavalier approach to safety.”

    • Once used tests are received by Randox and unpacked, they are wiped with a cloth which is occasionally sprayed with disinfectant. Undercover footage shows the tubes being freely mixed together with other test tubes in a cardboard tray. Experts who have viewed this footage believe this process risks cross-contamination of test samples. Randox denies this, telling Dispatches there is “no cross contamination.” Samples are “not mixed together” but “immediately placed in an upward position on a rack”
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that Randox’s high-paying “VIP” clients, some of whom are from the rugby and travel sectors, are being given “priority” over some other tests. Randox denies VIP tests are given priority, saying it “does not prioritise private clients” under any circumstances and denies that “VIP” tests delay the processing of other tests.
    • Samples from England may take twelve hours or more to arrive at the Randox laboratory in Northern Ireland.  Unpacking of large shipments may take more than a working day, and sometimes more than 24 hours. Randox, which has no control over travel times to the laboratory, says it consistently “meets the agreed turnaround times,” and processes samples mostly within 24 hours from receipt.
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that samples are colour coded according to a traffic light system based on how long it is since the sample was taken. Randox told us green is up to 38 hours, amber up to 77 and red up to 114 hours – nearly five days.

There’s a lot more information in the C4 News article (link below). The effect on the public who use the social media has been galvanising:

This last tweet leads us to ask why the work was outsourced to cowboys.

Ah yes – that will be the answer.

The backlash has been overwhelming, the condemnation universal.

And what is the Tory government doing about it?

Source: Dispatches uncovers serious failings at one of UK’s largest COVID-Testing Labs | Channel 4

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Dido Harding’s evidence to MPs shows why Tories shouldn’t give jobs to their cronies

The head of Serco – not NHS – Test and Trace demonstrated the failures, not only of her fake Covid-19 response organisation, but of the system that allows Conservative ministers to appoint their buddies to important jobs – just by turning up to talk about it.

Dido Harding – whose qualifications to run a business charged with contact tracing people who may have Covid-19 include having been a jockey and failing to run a telecoms/internet supplier – duly made a fool of herself before a joint meeting of Parliament’s health and social care committee and science and technology committee.

This Writer didn’t see the session so I’m relying on information from Twitter sources – and it isn’t flattering:

It’s a good point to make because the private firms do not come up to the standard of service we expect from the NHS – and that the NHS would provide.

So now we see not only that private companies are being paid a hell of a lot of money to provide very little, but also that the public authorities that have had to take up the slack and actually do something are not receiving any of this funding to do it. What a bare-faced charlatan Ms Harding was showing herself to be.

Worse was to follow:

The conclusion? Some commenters resorted to satire:

But many drew the obvious conclusion – as epitomised here:

That’s right – and Boris Johnson, together with his colleagues in the Conservative government that he heads, is responsible for employing them, using a system that bypasses competitive tendering by claiming it’s an emergency and time is of the essence.

It is now a year since Boris Johnson was first made aware of Covid-19. He wasted four months pretending it wasn’t any reason for concern and then used that system to appoint personal friends of his who achieved nothing.

It’s time the madness was stopped and competitive tendering was reintroduced so we can clear out the cowboys and bring back the professionals.

And it’s time Johnson and his cronies were brought to book for their cavalier spaffing of our cash on know-nothing amateurs.

Strangely enough, it seems that’s exactly what is going to happen…

Source: Typhoid Dido proves fluent in management bollocks and contradiction | John Crace | Politics | The Guardian

#LevellingUp or #ToryCorruption ? Serco-employed test and trace managers take £1.5m per year

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he refers to it constantly as “NHS test and trace” in the hope that people will blame the nationalised health service that has nothing to do with it.

The Serco Test and Trace scandal gets worse and worse; it has just been revealed that some employees receive £7,360 per day to pretend to find people with Covid-19 and trace their contacts.

That’s the equivalent of £1.5 million a year. These are people from companies with strong connections to the Conservative government, that won their contracts via an emergency system which avoids the normal tendering process.

And it has already been established that most contact tracing personnel spend their time playing computer games because they are not being given work to do.

City AM says,

Sky, citing leaked documents, reported that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has paid BCG around £10m. That was for a team of 40 consultants to work for four months on test and trace.

BCG’s “day rates” for public sector work – which determine the cost of its service – range from £2,400 to £7,360 for its most senior employees.

The report said BCG is giving the government a 10 to 15 per cent discount. Although this would still equate to day rates equivalent to around £1.5m a year.

BCG declined to comment.

Sky also said that 165 more consultants had been hired to work on test and trace. They include 84 from Deloitte, 31 from EY and 50 from KPMG.

So much for Boris Johnson’s claim that he was “levelling up” the UK. Tory friends are being paid millions in public money while those who desperately need it are being starved.

While ministerial salaries are being frozen, all MPs are getting a pay rise of £3,300 per year – equivalent to around two-thirds of the current annual rate of Universal Credit for an adult aged over 25.

The lowest MP salary will be £85,291 per year. Compare that with nurses on £24,000. Who does the more important job?

What about care workers, who receive an excruciatingly-low £18,553 per year. Who does the more important job?

The Durham-based family of Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings have been excused from paying £30,000 in backdated council tax on houses they built without planning permission 18 years ago – while child poverty in the Durham North constituency has rocketed by nine per cent – to total one-third of all children living there – in the last four years… after housing costs were taken into account,

The social media are seething with discontent:

I think the following three tweets put the current situation in a nutshell, using the current northern lockdown as an example of Tory corruption at its worst. First, let’s set the scene:

Now we can go into details with this excellent speech by Labour MP Dan Carden:

Lastly, let’s remember that there was an alternative – but people were steered away from it by liars in the mainstream media who shilled for the corrupt Tories instead. Now what, do you think, encouraged them to do that?

Source: Government paying test and trace consultants equivalent of £1.5m salary : CityAM

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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After This Site suggested it, Tories are letting experts tackle Covid-19 instead of their chums

I know. It’s just a coincidence.

But isn’t it interesting that, the day after This Site asked, “Don’t you agree that giving control of the response to Coronavirus back to people who actually know what they’re doing might turn the tide?” the Tories are talking about doing just that?

I had suggested, “Let’s see the Tories reopen the contract system to multiple tenders, with assignments of Covid-related contracts going to the firms best-suited for the work. Or – indeed – to the public organisations and authorities best-placed to handle it.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick made the admission that this will happen on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today (October 11): “People who know their own community… are bound to be better than Whitehall or national contact tracers.”

Here’s the clip:

There’s an obvious question to be answered here:

Yes – why weren’t they used in the first place?

The obvious answer is that individuals within the Johnson government have corruptly and opportunistically used the pandemic as a chance to funnel cash to their fellow-Tory friends. Certainly there is a movement now to find out how much money has been wasted on so-called services that haven’t worked at all:

That question of wasted time is crucial because many people have died.

What happens if we find that those deaths happened because the Tories were giving money to their friends – for nothing – rather than to people who could actually keep that death toll down?

Will there be any accountability?

Or will Boris Johnson just shrug his shoulders, say “Now is not the time,” and forget about it?

For further information, here‘s the Mirror‘s piece.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook