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Government accused of ‘misstep after misstep’ after contact tracing applicants wrongly told hiring paused

Michael Gove said 17,000 contact tracers have now been hired (PA)

2 min read

The Government has been accused of “misstep after misstep” in their plan to develop a track and trace programme to combat coronavirus after applicants were wrongly told hiring was paused.

Michael Gove heaped praise on his Cabinet colleague Matt Hancock on Sunday as he claimed 17,000 contact tracers have now been recruited for the job.

But it has emerged that some of those hoping to take on the role received an email saying their recruitment is “on hold” because of an alleged delay in the roll out of the NHS track and trace app.

The firm in charge of hiring, HR GO Recruitment, said it was a “miscommunication and false”, while a Government spokesperson called the email was “inaccurate” and “wrong”.

But Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, said: “Test, trace and isolate is fundamental to managing and controlling this virus and safely easing lockdown – yet the Government's approach has been increasingly chaotic, with misstep after misstep.”

The automated email from Friday, seen by HuffPost UK, told hopeful applicants: “Thank you for your online application for this role. Unfortunately earlier today the roles were put on hold.  

“This is due to a delay in the launch of the ‘Track and Trace’ App itself while the government considers an alternative App.”

John Parkinson, HR GO’s group chief information officer, said: “What has been said is a miscommunication and false. 

“We are not aware of any reason why track and trace would not be continuing as it should.”

And a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “This email is inaccurate and we are trying to ascertain its origin because it is both wrong and could cause confusion.

“Our recruitment of contact tracers for our online and phone-based contact tracing service continues at pace. For those already recruited, their training programmes continue.

“The NHS contact tracing app is not on hold – and it would be completely wrong to suggest otherwise.

“There is no alternative app and the NHS continues to work constructively with many other organisations that are helping to develop and test the NHS Covid-19 app.”



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