Demonstration about Test and Trace is held outside Leamington Town Hall

Supporters of South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public want the Government to scrap its contract with outsourcing firm Serco for running its contact tracing call centres

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 2:46 pm
Supporters of South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public (SWKNOP) demonstrated outside Leamington Town Hall yesterday (Tuesday April 27) about Test and Trace.

Supporters of South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public (SWKNOP) demonstrated outside Leamington Town Hall yesterday (Tuesday April 27) about Test and Trace.

The group gathered with placards in the morning.

Anna Pollert, SWKONP secretary, said: ‘We are here to tell the government to scrap its contract with Serco for running its contact tracing call centres.

"The government is obsessed with outsourcing lucrative contracts to private companies and sidelining public health and the NHS.

"It’s great that the vaccine programme is successful, but Covid is still here and with potentially resistant variants we need an effective testing, contact tracing and quarantine system.

"To be successful, contact tracing should be decentralised and run locally, with community knowledge, trust and support for those who are asked to self-isolate. The last thing it needs is remote call centres and corner-cutting companies.

Carolyn Pickering, another SWKONP member, added: "Test and trace has been proven in countries with a properly functioning system to be a successful strategy to manage and contain COVID. Numerous experts have repeated that, to be effective, testing and tracing needs to be managed and carried out at a local level

"However, instead of funding local bodies, which have the expertise, experience and vital local connections, this Government has squandered billions of pounds of public money on private companies dishonestly named ‘NHS Test & Trace’.

"In startling contrast, we have seen that the remarkable success of the vaccination programme is due to its being handled by a national public service but at local levels - namely the real NHS, providing vaccination at a local clinic which everyone can reach.

"Leamington people can be vaccinated in Leamington, instead of having to drive to Coventry to be tested.

Rupert Soames, Serco's chief executive, has defended the scheme.

He told the BBC's Today programme: "It [test-and-trace] is now a remarkable success and I acknowledge it has taken quite some time to get there."