We deserve to see the test and trace contracts with private companies

29 July 2020

Over 100 public figures have signed a letter to Matt Hancock demanding to see Serco's contact tracing contract, as well as all test and trace contracts made with private companies.

More than 100 public figures have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock demanding he publishes the contracts given to Serco and other private companies for the test and trace system. The list of signatories - comprising academics, doctors, public health registrars, and trade union leaders - includes high profile figures in the field of public health John Ashton, Anthony Costello and Allyson Pollock. 

The letter can be found below:

Dear Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care,

A comprehensive test, track and trace programme is vital to get out of lockdown safely and protect lives. 

According to the Treasury, £10 billion of public money has been allocated for spending on the Test and Trace system in England, yet only £300 million additional funding has been offered to local authorities across England to support the system.

This leaves over £9 billion of funding unaccounted for, of which some will be spent on contracts to Serco, Sitel and Capita. However, the value for money and effectiveness of these contracts is not known. McKinsey is reported to have been asked to review the contact tracing service, following several media reports of the system not working well.

We believe that it is essential for the public and the wider health community in the NHS and local government public health teams to have a better understanding of these contracts, and write to request that the government publishes

  1. A full list of all contracts, including their monetary value and the length of contract, for testing and contact tracing services. 
  2. Details of the deliverables, performance indicators, and break clauses for these contracts, as well as how contracts are being monitored and by whom? 
  3. Details of all subcontractors, and their contractual agreements.
  4. How many staff have been hired, on what terms, with what training, and what competencies? 


Signed by:

  • Professor Allyson Pollock, Clinical Professor of Public Health and director of the Newcastle University Centre for Excellence in Regulatory Science
  • Professor David McCoy - Director of the Centre for Global Public Health at Queen Mary University of London 
  • Prof Anthony Costello, Institute for Global Health, UCL
  • John Ashton, Former Director of Public Health for the North West 
  • Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary at Unite the Union
  • Christina McAnea, UNISON Assistant General Secretary
  • Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary
  • Clive Lewis MP, Labour MP for Norwich South
  • Caroline Molloy, editor, openDemocracy UK and openDemocracy OurNHS
  • The Sheffield Community Contact Tracers
  • Mary Fitzgerald, Editor in Chief openDemocracy
  • Martha Dark, Director of Foxglove
  • Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It
  • Tony O'Sullivan, Co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public  
  • Doctors in Unite
  • Professor Colin Talbot, Professor of Government, University of Manchester (Emeritus), and University of Cambridge Research Associate, Centre for Business Research
  • Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Past President, European Public Health Association
  • Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group
  • Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council
  • Liz Peretz, Spokesperson Oxford Keep our NHS Public
  • Dr Mike Tomson Retired GP and SCCT steering group member
  • Annabelle Mark, Professor Emerita of Healthcare Organisation, Middlesex University 
  • Kathy Swain
  • Lee Swain
  • Kevin Donovan, Secretary Defend Our NHS
  • Dr Jo Franklin Retired Hospital Practitioner
  • Dr Antony Marshall Retired GP
  • Dr John Puntis, co-chair Keep Our NHS Public
  • Ian Simpson, Consultant Adult Psychotherapist (NHS retired), Group Analyst and Organisational Consultant
  • Fran Bury, Public Health Registrar
  • Dr Aalaa Jawad, Public health Registrar
  • Dr Katie Clare, Public Health Registrar
  • Dr Judith Eling, Public Health Registrar
  • Carly Jeffrey, Spokesperson, Save Our NHS in Kent
  • Eleanor Lakew, Unite Member and Conservation Officer 
  • Dr Anna Livingstone, GP Clinical Lead Problem Substance Use
  • Professor David Hall, Visiting professor and former Director of the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) at the University of Greenwich Business School
  • Dr S Walpole, Infectious diseases registrar, RVI Newcastle, Associate Clinical Lecturer, Newcastle University
  • Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the UK Women’s Budget Group
  • Dr Coral Jones, GP
  • Carol Saunders, Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public
  • David Fuller 
  • Gillian Arrindell
  • Steven Carne, Chair 999 Call for the NHS
  • Mary Whitby
  • Steve Battlemuch, Councillor for Wollaton West, Nottingham City Council
  • Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch
  • Holly Brazier Tope
  • Adele Williams, Labour Councillor for Sherwood
  • Wendy Smith, Councillor for Bilborough 
  • Linda Woodings, Councillor for Basford Ward, Nottingham City Council
  • Zafran Khan, Labour Councillor for Wollaton West, Nottingham City Council
  • Cate Woodward, Labour Councillor for Wollaton West, Nottingham City Council
  • Samuel Gardiner, Labour Councillor for Bulwell Forest Ward,  Nottingham City Council
  • Maria Joannou, Labour Councillor for Bulwell Ward
  • Dr Nick Mann GP
  • Rosamund Mykura, Newham Save our NHS
  • Paul Atkinson, Free Psychotherapy Network
  • Dr Sonia Adesara, National Medical Director Clinical Fellow 2018/19, Secretary London Socialist Health Association 
  • Deirdre Haslam 
  • Rebecca Devitt
  • Joseph Suart, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist
  • Arthur Musgrave
  • Guy Gladstone, Group Psychotherapist, The Open Centre, London
  • Arthur Musgrave
  • Rosalind Davy
  • Ameen Kamlana, GP
  • Mary Burnett WF Save Our NHS 
  • Jess McQuail
  • Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, anaesthetic Consultant 
  • Abigail Cheverst XR 
  • Kate Drummond
  • Maggie Palmer, NHS Family Therapist, Unite Rep
  • Frank McEntaggart, Defend our NHS Wirral
  • Lynne Lacock, Counsellor
  • Pascale Robinson, Campaigns officer, We Own It 
  • Gay Lee, member of Lambeth Keep Our NHS Public
  • Erika Adler
  • Robert Jenkins, retired NHS psychotherapist
  • Ruth Williams, Integrative Psychotherapist 
  • Graham Chapman, Councillor 
  • Neghat Khan, Councillor 
  • Greg Dropkin, Keep Our NHS Public Merseyside
  • Beatrice Millar, Person-Centred Therapist
  • Dr Seb Randall, Psychotherapist
  • Cheryl Barnard, Councillor for Bulwell Forest Ward
  • Angela Kandola, Labour Councillor for Berridge Ward
  • Salma Mumtaz, Basford Councillor, Nottingham
  • Paul O’Brien on behalf of Cities of London and Westminster CLP
  • William Davies 
  • Steven Jones
  • Anthony Johnson, Registered Nurse and Lead Organiser, Nurses United UK 
  • Geoff Earl, Mental Health Nurse, Nurses United UK
  • Dr Tim Watson, Defend our NHS Wirral
  • John Lister, Editor of Health Campaigns Together
  • David Buglass
  • Dr Ben White, Doctor and Researcher 
  • Keith Venables, Keep our NHS Public Executive
  • Alia Butt, Psychotherapist 
  • Elly Badcock, occupational therapist, Unison steward
  • Christina Sosseh, Retired NHS Nurse 
  • Tom Barker, Secretary Save Our NHS Leicestershire and Unison steward
  • Jane Wilson, NHS family therapist
  • Dr Brian Fisher GP and Chair of Socialist Health Association
  • Dr Katie Townsend
  • Kate Sheehan, Registered Nurse and Committee of Save Southend NHS campaign
  • Helen Holly MSc, MCIEH, Retired Environmental Health Officer

  • Jon Gardner, Research Nurse, RCN & Nurses United



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Karen Anderson replied on Permalink

Thank you! I'm a great believer in the NHS but was beginning to feel like giving up as it feels like we are being governed by lunatics who appear to be ignoring the facts and instead are trying to brainwash the nation with lies . Wonderful to know that there are good people still championing the cause. I salute you xxx

Allan Price replied on Permalink

I'm a retired oncologist. I see excellent advice about how to deal with the current emergency from Devi Sridhar, Allyson Pollock, Anthony Costello and others, but ignored by the UK government. Thankfully it is heard in Scotland and we may yet eliminate the virus here and in Ireland.

Adrian Bateman replied on Permalink

Local expertise is way matters. Not exploiting the situation to further enrich this kleptocracy.

jacky chambers replied on Permalink

Time is running out for this Government to put right the public health response to this pandemic . Time for local public health teams and primary care to take back control and

Frances Bell replied on Permalink

Of course our government inner circle of MPs thinks the removal of democracy, like in Hungary, is more valuable than the life and death of its citizens. Democracy is already suffering as are many of the government's citizens. In Australia there is a new upsurge in coronavirus (trashing a near elimination) when a private company was given the running of a quarantine locality. Not only did the private staff get infected but they proceeded to go out into the city to enjoy themselves

Pascale replied on Permalink

Hi Frances, Can you send a link? We'd love to see this!

Michael Gibson replied on Permalink

i dont think the government have our health at the heart of there policies

Colin Halsall replied on Permalink

My issue is simple, why as a nation are we not incensed by the flagrant misuse of public funds given to the private sector, instead our media is full of a 'Migrant Crisis' in the English Channel. This media bias is brainwashing UK citizens, they are refugees not migrants. Humanity is now looking like a long lost ideal.

Kim Edwards replied on Permalink

Making this and similar Government decision making and spending on profit focused companies public knowledge is the only way to force change. I applaud all of you and am immensely grateful to all those who wrote and signed the letter.

Sue Taylor replied on Permalink

I have been so horrified by story after story of misuse of the public purse. Clearly the moral compass has been seriously lost . Thank you so much for putting up a resistance. I realise it's hard work!! Of course local councils are more efficient than a million sercos, they care about their community.

What do we have to do to halt the Tory rampage.

Tom replied on Permalink

This is blatant corruption on a massive scale. Where are the investigative journalists who should be chasing this, instead of creating and perpetuating scare stories about 'migrant invasions'?!

Tracy jane replied on Permalink

It's a scary time when now we find ourselves witnessing the blatant mishandling of public funds,while our health and our livelihoods are bleeding out with nothing but sticky plasters to hold our wounds together.

What can we do? We need answers. These people should be accountable for the decisions they are making without real solid reason or rhyme!!!.

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