More than a thousand Deloitte consultants are reportedly working on the NHS Test and Trace programme, further highlighting the government’s reliance on the private sector through the pandemic.
Department of Health documents released under a Freedom of Information request by Sky News reveal there are currently 1,114 consultants working on the scheme, equivalent to the size of a small government department.
The management consultancy can charge up to £2,360 a day for each of its consultants.
While the government has not disclosed Deloitte’s fee Sky News reported that on the basis of the charge sheet and, on the assumption the consultants have been working since April, the cost could run as high as £300m.
The documents show they outnumber the other management consultants from Mckinsey, BCG, PwC, KPMG and EY which total just 144.
The cost of the Test and Trace programme is already budgeted at around £12bn but has been responsible for a series of embarrassing failures in the government’s response to the pandemic.
The latest error led to nearly 16,000 positive cases between 25 September and 2 October not being included in national statistics or passed onto contact tracers.
Deloitte has been involved in the creation and management of the system along with other private firms involved in what is reportedly known as Pillar 2, a centralised private sector arm of the testing operation.
The scale of the government’s reliance on the private sector has been laid bare in recent weeks, and the Prime Minister has promoted it as integral to the coronavirus recovery.
In his speech to the Conservative party conference Boris Johnson warned about the extent of state intervention: “There comes a moment when the state must stand back and let the private sector get on with it. We must not draw the wrong economic conclusion from this crisis.”
A spokesperson for Deloitte said: “Deloitte is immensely proud to have been able to step up and answer the government’s call to British businesses to support the national testing programme when the pandemic first emerged.”
“At short notice we have provided the capacity, skills and expertise at the scale needed to support this critically important programme.”