Serco boss defends test & trace performance as contract extended
Serco PLC (LON:SRP) has had part of its controversial COVID-19 test and trace contract renewed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The new contract is to run testing sites and worth an estimated £322mln over twelve months with a possible six months extension.
Britain currently is seeing infections rise sharply again due to the spread of the Delta variant of Covid and Serco added that the actual size of the contract might differ markedly from that amount depending on need.
Serco will provide test site operations, asset administration support, cleaning and security services at around 20% of sites in England and Northern Ireland, including a mixture of drive-through and walk-in testing centres, as well as mobile testing units.
The UK’s ‘test and trace’ system has been heavily criticised for being ineffective, especially when compared with the performance of similar schemes in other countries, but chief executive Rupert Soames defended its performance.
“We are proud of the part we have played in building and operating the UK’s highly successful Covid-19 testing infrastructure,” he said in a statement.
“From a standing start in March 2020, NHS Test & Trace has grown a network of regional, local and mobile sites which have delivered over 18.5 million individual tests, an average of 51,000 tests a day.
As well as running testing sites for the NHS, Serco also organises the tracers who inform people they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
Earlier this month, the group raised its profit forecast for the current year due to a larger contribution than expected from the test and trace programme.
Serco said then that volumes on both its testing and tracing contracts had continued to be strong and demand will continue into the second half, which is longer than previously anticipated.
Soames added today: “We are delighted that the DHSC has selected us to continue to support them in providing these services for at least the next twelve months.”