testing is crucial to controlling the spread of the coronavirus
epidemic because it allows those who are infected to self-isolate
while helping identify hot spots and trace those who are infected.
you land in Rome there is a swift and well organised Covid test with
the result given in 30 minutes.” Richard E Grant
in the UK some people have made round trips of more than four hours
and even in England’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspots people
reported being unable to get a test.
Bolton, Cath Dodds, whose young daughter has a chronic lung condition
and asthma, and who developed a cough and a temperature, was forced
to make a 240-mile round trip for a test after three days of trying
to get one locally.
In Yorkshire. Gavin
Kaps, a photographer who had a cough, no sense of smell or taste, a
blocked nose and fatigue, was unable to book a test anywhere. “There
were literally no options,” he said, so he went direct to a
testing centre. “I was asked if I had an appointment and
informed that the government had said they couldn’t accept people
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s incumbent on all of
us to take a responsible approach and tell our constituents that
tests are available in large numbers and the average distance
travelled is 5.8 miles … And people should take this seriously and
not game the system.”
What’s going on?
Covid-19 is allowing for the escalting takeover of the NHS by the
privateers is what’s going on.
in the UK testing has been sub-contracted to private companies such
as Serco, G4S, Capita and Deloitte. They have won significant work on
providing Covid testing, and have been awarded £1.3bn of NHS work in
the last eight months .
secured contracts worth £157m between February 1 and September 7,
2020, including a job mobilising 10,500 contact tracers for the NHS
Test and Trace programme.
the five years before the pandemic, share prices of these companies
had underperformed and so Covid-19 has been a life-saver for them, if
you will pardon the pun. Serco said it had won enough Covid-19
response work to offset “the significant negative impact of the
pandemic in other parts of our business”. Readers will be
relieved to know that by August, Serco had offset losses with a
range of government contracts both in the UK and overseas, much of it
focused on health ‘care’.
are not alone in their financial ‘relief’. Capita, ‘won’ two
awards worth £34m, and the security firm G4S a contract worth £9m.
It's a small matter, but Serco
had to apologise after breaching data protection rules on its
test-and-trace contract and was fined £1 million for
failures on another government contract. The company has received
larger fines in the past, notably more than £19m as part of a
settlement with the Serious Fraud Office over failures in electronic
tagging dating back to 2010.
latest fine does not appear to have hampered Serco’s ability to win
other government contracts. Alongside the test-and-trace contract, it
secured an £800m prisoner custody contract and a £200m contract to
manage immigration removal centres.
Covid-19 contracts have been awarded without a competitive tendering
process under emergency procurement measures that were put in place
government is using the Coronavirus epidemic, to siphon billions of
pounds into the pockets of friends who have no experience in the
field of public health. Amongst them, a rodent infestation company
pocketing a multi-million pound award to get in on the lucrative
and The junior health minister, Edward Argar, is a former Serco
lobbyist and Serco’s chief executive is Rupert Soames, grandson
of Sir Winston Churchill and brother of Tory MP, Sir Nicholas Soames.
have personal experience of Serco’s leading role in the
privatisation of the NHS. When I was a patient at St Barts Hospital
in 2018, I wrote that Serco’s employees, loving, gentle and caring
health workers, once worked directly for the NHS, but as Serco
employees, were earning £8 per hour and hadn’t seen a pay rise for
“I love the idea that the military is listed
alongside healthcare and 'other citizen services' by SERCO. Also nice
to know that the inmates of Wormwood Scrubs receive the same food
services as we get in this hospital. I wonder if they have the same
problem – a shortage of small spoons. In the Scrubs they may be
being put to use tunnelling their escapes and probably don't ask why
there is a shortage. There was no answer for me when I asked this
question. Breakfast was tepid tea or coffee, cereal or porridge and
toast. As I bite into the cold, spongy “toast” I could imagine
Serco executives meeting to discuss how to cut back their costs to
increase their profits. 'Let's start with breakfast'.”
the intervening years things have only got worse. I look forward to
the day when we put a Serco prisoner van to good use and take their
CEO to prison for profiting off the suffering of the people.