back to article UK Test and Trace finding consultant habit hard to break: More contracts go to Deloitte and Accenture

Global IT consultancies Accenture and Deloitte have scooped up nearly £94m in contracts from the UK public health agency after it took charge of the Test and Trace COVID-19 response. The government has repeatedly committed to reducing its reliance on external consultants in the £37bn Test and Trace efforts amid criticism from …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone traced Dido Harding?

    Haven't seen her around for some time now.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Has anyone traced Dido Harding?

      Let sleeping dogs lie.

      If I haven't seen her, or heard about her, then it means she doesn't exist. And I'm alright with that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has anyone traced Dido Harding?

      "She added that many were no longer needed..."

      So when do we start outsourcing the House of Lords?

  2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "£37bn Test and Trace"

    That's very misleading. That was money allocated, not spent.

    And the vast, vast majority of that money went on testing. Ie: the test kits.

    And given that we're testing about 6x per capita more than Germany, it's not exactly money wasted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >And given that we're testing about 6x per capita more than Germany, it's not exactly money wasted.

      Perhaps given our transmission, case and death rates are multiples of those found in Germany there's a reasonable argument that it was money wasted. This is the argument put forward by the Public Accounts Committee last month, who noted that despite having the equivalent of 20% of the NHS's entire budget to spend barely 15% of tests procured were ultimately registered.

      The only success coming out of "NHS" Test and Trace will be seen in the bank accounts of Deloitte partners this year.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Deloitte - which isn't exactly known for healthecare or pandemic control - was raking in £1,000/day for call centre droids who did fuck all. It still is. Their top consultants cost HM taxpayer £6,000+/day. I'd call all of that a waste of money.

      Baroness Dildo Harding's text and trace has been an epic fail with nothing to show for it. Except bulging wallets for those who had their snouts in the trough. I'd call that a waste of money.

      Our body count for COVID19 is about twice Germany's: ~10M cases and 150K deaths compared to 5M cases and 90K deaths. If your claim of 6 times more tests than Germany is correct, that hasn't resulted in better health outcomes. I'd call that a waste of money - and human lives.

      BTW comparing the numbers tested is a mug's game when you're not testing the right people. There would be no point testing for prostate cancer in a nunnery.

    3. R Soul

      The National Audit Office and House of Commons Public Accounts Committee disagree with you. The latter said Test and Trace was "muddled, overstated and eye wateringly expensive".

      1. notyetanotherid
        Facepalm

        And the government is awarding contracts to consultants to help them ramp down the use of consultants...

        https://www.civilserviceworld.com/news/article/dhsc-spending-40000-a-week-on-consultants-to-develop-business-case-for-new-health-body

        https://www.consultancy.uk/news/26222/cabinet-office-asks-consultants-to-help-lower-reliance-on-consultants

        For some reason turkeys and Christmas spring to mind.

    4. Alex Stuart

      Ah, the test kits - the same ones the USA have thrown in the trash and were sold to us by brokers making millions in profit off the taxpayer just for arranging the delivery as far as Shanghai airport.

      With their profit margins not even scrutinised by the Govt as they threw all rules out of ther window to let the pigs feed at the trough.

    5. Chris G Silver badge

      To give that £37Billion scale, it would pay the UK average annual wage (2020) of 1,117,000 people.

      Somebody, somewhere is taking the piss.

      If nobody has seen Dido for a while, it is probably because she is furnishing her new hollowed out volcanic island and is busy with her Feng Shui consultant, trying to decide where to place the toilet reserved for throwing surplus money into.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        "the toilet reserved for throwing surplus money into"

        Don't forget the cost of the fluffy white cat - they're very expensive, both to buy and to maintain.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "the toilet reserved for throwing surplus money into"

          Could Dildo Harding be trusted with a fluffy white cat?

    6. teebie

      The figures for 'testing' include figures for 'sending kits to Immensa, who did not properly test them'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And the backhanders - sorry consulting fees - Randox paid to the disgraced former MP and minister Owen Paterson.

    7. MrMerrymaker

      More like Conservative of Tunbridge Wells

  3. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    Why would anyone join the civil service to do computer/digital/techy stuff? You would be guaranteed to be treated with contempt by the PPE types (posh boys) in charge, underpaid, overstressed with no career path in sight. The alternative is to be a consultant - higher pay, less stress, less responsibility.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "with no career path in sight."

      I'm sure that's the case. I don't see what would have changed in the 35 years since I abandoned that ship.

      Actually the career path was in sight. It was just over there. It was always just over there. That was the problem.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Career path for Civil Service IT

        I thought the career path was to get well trained in IT specialities and then find a much better paid job in industry, outside the civil service. (NOT a joke. The civil service has great difficulty retaining highly skilled IT experts as the commercial sector pays staff a lot more.)

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    IR35

    Dream come true for the big guys.

    1. macjules

      Re: IR35

      Wondered when someone might mention that. As for the "because the skills NHST&T was trying to recruit for ...," they just did not want to pay the appropriate rate for the job, hence the lack of takers.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

    My question is when does it all end? Deaths from covid-19 are now at endemic levels in comparison to other endemic diseases, and has been since the week of March 5th, 2021 when influenza/pneumonia deaths surpassed covid-19 deaths (ONS link here https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/weeklyprovisionalfiguresondeathsregisteredinenglandandwales)

    Week of March 5th, 2021:

    Influenza/pneumonia: 2,350

    Covid-19: 2,105

    This has continued all year where sometimes influenza was registering sometimes as many as 8x more deaths.

    latest stats are as follows

    Week of 12th Nov,2021 deaths:

    Inf/pneum: 2159

    Covid-19: 1020

    So still beating covid at a factor of 2x but these are endemic disease nowhere near the top of the food chain in cause of death - looking at leading cause of death in the UK , again from the ONS data (the only data we have):

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/monthlymortalityanalysisenglandandwales/october2021

    Alzheimers, dementia and ischaemic heart disease.

    But then we could argue the aim is to stop the NHS being overwhelmed, not to stop people dying from Covid, which is exactly the problem - what is the aim here?. I lost track a long time ago of what the aim was, I recall '3 weeks to flatten the curve' (ie. control infections) to 'save xmas' (stop NHS getting overwhelmed) but now it's all muddled, like a constant 'orange alert'. We risk turning covid-19 into an industry whereby private companies are funnelled public money for everything from apps to testing for very little added value to fight a disease that isn't going away and that has long since become endemic.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

      The aim is to derail the economy, to narrow the gap between the UK and China. Struggling SMEs will be ripe for Chinese take over and then "build back better" infrastructure contracts will go split to Chinese "companies" and Tory controlled corporations.

      In the meantime any opposition will be sent to Covid camps "for their own good", as it starts happening in Australia.

      Interestingly not even a murmur about where did the Covid come from, no investigations. Just happily accepting big pharma money to push "vaccines" (why would you call a vaccine something you have to take every few months).

      1. R Soul

        Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

        Keep wearing that tinfoil hat. It's clearly working.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

          The part about Aussie quarantine camps is unbelievable but sadly true.

          https://twitter.com/BernieSpofforth/status/1462740215571918849

          https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/21/nt-communities-of-binjari-and-rockhole-in-hard-lockdown-as-covid-outbreak-expected-to-worsen

          1. Twanky Silver badge

            Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

            From the linked Guardian article:

            ...a 21-year-old infected woman who illegally entered the NT in late October after contracting the virus in Victoria and lying on her border entry form.

            You have to fill in a border entry form to go from Victoria to the Northern Territories?

            Can anyone tell me if this border form-filling is part of the pandemic response or just normal internal controls in Oz?

            1. batfink Silver badge

              Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

              It's not normal. Normal is just being able to drive across any of the internal borders without slowing down, as in the Schengen area. Or just take an internal flight with no checks.

              Once upon a time there were quarantine checks at borders, as you're not supposed to bring certain plants between certain States, but that's been dropped for years (decades?) now.

              BTW Victoria and the Northern Territory don't share a border - she would either have had to fly or traverse at least one other state in between.

              1. Twanky Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

                Many thanks.

                I knew Victoria and NT don't have any common border. I certainly thought that traveling state-to-state (or territory) was open borders. Interesting that you compared it to Schengen where I was thinking England/Scotland border.

                Cheers.

        2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

          Make sure to bookmark my comment and come back in a year or two.

    2. teebie

      Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

      You are comparing the death rate when spending a huge amount to fight covid and the death rate when spending a small amount to fight influenza, which isn't a fair comparison.

      I'd be very surprised if the government has a plan for when to cut covid spending, but if there were a plan a reasonable starting point would be something like 'funding will be reduced to around the amount we spend fighting flu at the point when doing so would mean the death rates are similar to those for flu'

    3. batfink Silver badge

      Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

      Of course the hospitals being full of Covid patients has no knock-on effects on fatality rates from other causes...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

      > My question is when does it all end? Deaths from covid-19 are now at endemic levels in comparison to other endemic diseases, and has been since the week of March 5th, 2021

      When does it all end you ask? Well, the answer might be in the very first bullet point of the second report that you link to

      https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/monthlymortalityanalysisenglandandwales/october2021

      where it points out that there are still excess deaths compared with the 5 year average for the same period. Covid will be over when the excess deaths are down to a suitably low-level.

    5. colinb

      Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

      I have some sympathy with the view all healthcare companies are amoral profit machines as it predicts exactly what they would do but your figures are misleading.

      Firstly the report notes that

      "Note: deaths may be counted in more than one cause category, for example a death may have an underlying cause of COVID-19 but also have influenza and pneumonia mentioned as a contributory cause of death."

      I'll translate: the influenza figures you quoted can include Covid cases. Even a not very bright person should know that Covid can cause fluid buildup in the lungs (i.e. pneumonia).

      Second they are not the figures for actual cause of death but the ones that have flu/pneumonia mentioned anywhere on the Death certificate.

      The actual figures for underlying causes of Death are

      12-Nov-2021

      Influenza and pneumonia 392

      Covid 858

      So not like the Flu, the Flu will be mainly over 70's, Covid has a wider age range affected, also by current figures worldwide 260,000 have died of the flu and 5 million by Covid, so no not like the Flu at all.

      Probably not endemic yet as you can see the Flu has a narrow monthly range of ~250-400 deaths whereas Covid deaths were 57 in June and now is 858, far more variable.

      So not sure what your 'logic' is but it sounds like you propose letting it go and fill what little ICU is left with Covid cases or maybe just push them onto balconies and let them die like the old days?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

      Following the link you gave shows the following results for the week of 5th of March 2021.

      Deaths due to influenza and pneumonia (underlying cause): 308

      Deaths due to COVID-19 (underlying cause): 1,685

      Latest stats (week of 12th November 2021 are 392 for flu/pneumonia (underlying cause) and 858 for COVID-19 (underlying cause).

      These figures are available on tab "Weekly figures by cause". These figures (taken from the citation you provide) directly contradict you.

      You have instead quoted the "any mention on death certificate" figures, and misinterpreted them. Pneumonia is a common factor in deaths (as is heart-failure), where there is a different underlying cause of death. In the case of the last two years it has been common for COVID-19 patients to be recorded as having pneumonia - COVID is a lung disease, after all.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

        And of course if you get a positive covid test and linger on for a couple of months before death (e.g. in ICU) you have passed the time (28 days) then you don't show on daily COVID death figures (but if doctor done their job will have COVID contributory factor on death certificate) - so headline COVID death figures can be way off.

        Add in people not getting tested & death influenced by COVID, cause of death may not mention COVID at all e.g. if old and COVID exacerbated existing breathing issues.

        So, as has been said, excess deaths is a useful thing to look at.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When do you shut down the covid-industrial complex?

      "Deaths from covid-19 are now at endemic levels in comparison to other endemic diseases"

      You do realise that "endemic" simply means the level of cases is stable (i.e. R = 1), don't you..? Given that we're seeing the equivalent of 50,000 deaths a year (pro-rating the current average), and the UK will on average see 650,000 deaths per year, that means on average 1 in 13 deaths will be due to COVID (naive maths, but you get the point). That's before we start to consider the knock-on effect in hospital capactiy due to infection control measures, the fact that a COVID patient is more likely to end up in ICU, and every COVID patient in ICU means a scheduled major surgery (e.g. heart operation) can't go ahead (because they need the spare ICU bed in case the surgery doesn't go well).

      Also, there is debate on the reporting of flu fatalities, as it gets combined with pneumonia (which it is associated with), e.g. one Professor of Public Health stated that the 25,000 reported flu & pneumonia deaths one year, 1,500 were directly due to influenza, with a large number of the pneumonia deaths being due to privation, and pointed out that the Scandinavian and other European countries don't see the level of flu & associated deaths that we do.

  6. da39a3ee5e6b4b0d3255bfef95601890afd80709
    Facepalm

    Peanuts …

    … monkeys. “Skills in short supply”. Next.

  7. cantankerous swineherd

    there is an existing functional test and trace organisation at the local clap clinic that just needs funding and beefing up.

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