Commenting on the Public Accounts Committee report on Test and Trace, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said:

“This report is scathing about the government’s disastrous handling of test and trace. Over two years, £37 billion has been dished out to government contacts in the private sector for a system that completely failed to do what it was supposed to. 

“Time and again, ministers were told that local authorities and health services were best placed to run test and trace in their own areas. Time and again, the government ignored the evidence and continued ploughing money into outsourced services that were overly centralised and ineffective. 

“Even ignoring the issue of cronyism at the heart of government, ministers’ dangerous obsession with privatisation – to the point of serious detriment to the public health and repeated economic shutdown – cannot go unacknowledged.

“The creeping tide of privatisation that ministers have used NHS Test and Trace to further is still ongoing and is designed to impact health services years into the future.

“As Unite has previously warned, Dido Harding’s organisation is setting up unneeded testing laboratories across the country that will be run by profit driven firms at the expense of local NHS services and personnel. 

“The Tories justified starving the NHS of funds for years in the name of fiscal responsibility. Yet they are more than happy to blow billions upon billions on a privatised system that was a horrible failure when it was most needed and cost countless lives as a result.

“Members of the public will be rightly asking why billions are available for Tory mates to fail miserably, while NHS staff are denied a fair pay rise after months of selfless public service.” 


During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.