The Minister is right to say that we want everything to go well, but what we can do is learn the lessons. In my constituency in Brent, people were trying to get access to the NHS database—the Contract Tracing and Advisory Service—and they were met with just “No, no, no” so many times. Will the Minister tell the House the average wait time for local authorities to get access to CTAS? That is vital if they are going to do local test and trace.
I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and I will be coming on to access. As she rightly points out, it is hugely important that local and national systems are in lockstep so we get a better picture of the virus and how it is affecting our local communities.
I will try to keep my contribution to factual information, unlike some of the speeches that we have heard today. I would like to thank the Prime Minister for acknowledging and apologising for the failures of the test and trace system the other day.
Here are some general facts. The minutes from SAGE on 1 May reported that any delay beyond 48 to 72 hours before the isolation of contacts results in a “significant impact” on the R rate—so every time this goes wrong, there is a significant impact on that rate. SAGE also reported that “at least 80%” of contacts of confirmed cases would need to isolate to ensure an effective track and trace system.
Therefore, every time it is said that Serco has reached 60%, that means that it is failing because it is not an effective test-and-trace system. It also states that 65% of people who test positive have no symptoms. It is wrong, therefore, for the Secretary of State to say that people who have no symptoms are not entitled to go for tests.
Randox won a £133 million contract—unopposed—for a test-and-trace system. It disposed of 12,401 used swabs in a single day, voided more than 35,000 used test kits and disposed of 750,000 unused coronavirus kits owing to safety standards. Even though there is an ongoing investigation it is important that we know where taxpayers’ money is being wasted. I would like the Minister to confirm whether Randox is charging the taxpayer for voided tests. How many tests has Randox voided to date, and how much is the taxpayer being charged for each voided test?
Professor Jon Deeks says that New Zealand tests people at least three times, whereas we in the United Kingdom have a leaky testing problem in contact tracing and run the risk of missing the disease. That is the problem. There has been a backlog of 185,000 Covid-19 tests, and some tests have been sent to Germany, and some to Italy. How many of our tests are processed in the UK, and how many are processed in Europe, which, incidentally, said we are not a priority? I wonder why.
Serco is one of the top outsourcing companies. Serco and Sitel are going to be paid £1 billion for their work. I would say that the money should be given to local authorities.
The BMJ released details of a leaked Government briefing stating that there will be 10 million Covid tests a day as part of a £100 billion expansion. That £100 billion should be given to local authorities.