Outsourcing firm Serco has announced its profits are set to soar after being paid to operate NHS Test and Trace.
The company announced that extra cash could be funnelled to shareholders in the week the performance of the part-privatised contact tracing system hit a new low.
Campaigners have labelled the profit alert “obscene” while a group of independent scientists have called for the contact tracing system to be “dismantled”.
Serco was handed £108 million of taxpayers cash to set up contract tracing call centres which have been beset by problems. Its contract was then extended in August which could see them handed up to £410 million extra.
But doctors have called the system Serco has set up a “shambles” and it has heavily under-performed rival versions set up in places like Wales that simply use the NHS to run test and trace.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, the chair of the Doctor’s Association UK, said last month: “The current arrangements for Covid-19 testing are an utter shambles. We have key workers, such as GPs and hospital doctors, who are unable to access testing, having to self-isolate and ultimately not see patients.
He added “With an already stretched NHS workforce and 8,274 doctor vacancies in England alone prior to the pandemic, we can ill afford to have doctors self-isolating due to a lack of available testing.
Pascale Robinson, officer at campaign group We Own It, said: “The fact that Serco is celebrating increased profits and making plans to pay out dividends to shareholders shows everything that’s wrong with the Government’s handling of this pandemic.