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Robert Jenrick Admits Damning Report On Test And Trace Failures Is "Concerning"

Robert Jenrick Admits Damning Report On Test And Trace Failures Is 'Concerning'

The report found NHS Test and Trace had failed in its main objectives (Alamy)

3 min read

Former minister Robert Jenrick said the government should "pay heed" to the findings of a report into NHS Test and Trace, which said the program had "failed to achieve" its main objectives.

The report by the Public Accounts Committee of MPs said that the programme's main aims have been "overstated or not achieved" and that its "continued over-reliance on consultants is likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds".

"It is very concerning what they've said," Jenrick, who was housing minister for much of the pandemic but left the Cabinet in September, told Sky News.

But Jenrick also sought to defend the scheme, which he still believed had played an important part in tackling the pandemic.

"It is a programme that has led to 320 million tests being done over the course of the last year. 20 million people have been contacted," he added.

"Are there lessons that can or must be learned from it? I think absolutely. And we're all going to have to pay heed, particularly the government, to what is said by the Public Accounts Committee."

The highly-critical report by the committee of MPs also argued that Test and Trave did not prevent national lockdowns or reduce the number of Covid-19 cases.

It criticised the program's failure to monitor its own progress, highlighting the fact that only 14% of the 691 million rapid lateral flow tests distributed have been registered.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today show, Meg Hillier, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said MPs had expected some money to be "thrown at projects that wouldn't be successful" during the pandemic.

But she added that Test and Trace "kept promising things and not delivering, and kept hoping and not learning from what it was doing".

"It set up big infrastructure from scratch, then it relied a lot on consultants, which was very expensive, didn't bring that learning in house and for that £37 billion that's been allocated for its first two years," she said.

"We can't really see what the legacy will be. For £37 billion that's not a good record."

Hillier continued: "In the end, it massively over promised for what it delivered and it wasted eye-watering sums of money. 

"We haven't seen a health project this big for a very long time. That's really one of the biggest concerns, that it was almost as if the taxpayer was an ATM machine.

"That lack of regard for taxpayer funding is a real concern for us as a committee."

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