The improvement in performance was driven by the extension of the test and traceability contract, as well as the US government contracts for healthcare and emergency management, Serco said in an unscheduled market update. scholarship holder.
Serco was one of several private companies hired by the UK government to test people for the coronavirus and trace their recent contacts. Serco manages a quarter of the 500 testing sites in the country and provides managers who call possible contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus.
The system has come under heavy criticism for its reliance on the private sector, including multiple outsourcing companies and expensive consultants, for a program seen as a key part of the UK’s efforts to contain the pandemic.
One of Serco’s contracts with the Department of Health and Social Affairs could potentially be worth up to £ 410million. It was criticized because its call managers reached a lower proportion of contacts from people who had tested positive than their local public health counterparts.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow cabinet minister, said: “It is sinister beyond belief. As Serco reap the benefits, people are paying the price for its failed contact tracing. It also appears that this money is going straight into the pockets of top executives, while shareholders and workers are left in the dark. It is totally unnecessary and impractical that after this long series of failures, Serco extended his contract. ”
Rupert Soames, chief executive of Serco, told the Guardian that Serco had done everything the government had asked him to do and that the broader testing and traceability system had been unfairly criticized.
“Part of the narrative of this is completely wrong – this dialogue says everything is a mess and it doesn’t work,” he said. “Does someone turn around and say, ‘Wow, to start and test 3.5 million people [a week]’? They’ve done really well – not to say error free, but no system that tests 3.5 million people every week will be error free.
Soames said it was up to the company to pay a dividend or not, but no decision would be made before the end of the year.
The GMB union, which represents some Serco workers, called on ministers to intervene to move testing and tracing away from private companies.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: “We need a real public interest tracking and tracing system, run by the local authorities who know their area best, with full funding – not a system. defective that lines the pockets of shareholders. ”