Local Contact Tracing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:42 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Labour, Putney 6:42 pm, 14th October 2020

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the issue of track and trace. I and other Opposition Members are rightly furious at the amount of money being spent on private companies that could have been invested in our own NHS and in local public authority systems.

This issue is of huge interest to my constituents in Putney, Roehampton and Southfields. More than 100 people have written to tell me about where it has gone wrong with testing and tracing, and more than 700 people have signed my joint letter with my hon. Friends the Members for Tooting (Dr Allin-Khan) and for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova), asking for a permanent testing centre in Wandsworth borough. Deloitte has been sent to find one, but it cannot find a place, so we do not have one; we rely on the Army to pop up every now and again. One mother was left in a car park, having to travel to another testing centre. She could not find a QR code on her app. The testing centre was almost empty, but she was not able to go in.

The Minister talked about a spine and ribs, and the whole system working together. We have a spine in this country: it is the NHS. It is a national health system. We should have used that from the start rather than spending £12 billion on systems that have entirely failed us. SAGE has now said that track and trace had a minimal effect on stopping the virus, but it should have been the core of our reaction and our action to stop the virus.

The existing privately outsourced system has failed. We have no permanent testing area in Wandsworth—will the Minister meet me to talk about that? My constituents have told me it is not working; local councils have told the Government that it is not working; and now scientists are telling the Government it is not working. It is time to give Serco a reboot; in fact, it is time to give Serco the boot. I ask the Minister to trust our local authorities and give them the contract for testing and tracing.