NHS Test and Trace Debate

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NHS Test and Trace

Lord Balfe Excerpts
Monday 28th June 2021

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, more than 80% of the budget for test and trace goes towards the testing part of that programme. That has proved highly effective. The programme is working to increase its partnership with local authorities and local directors of public health. We are also reducing our reliance on private sector contractors by around 17%, but we recognise the work that those partners have done with us in building up the system over the past year and continue to work with them where it is in the best interests of the country.

Lord Balfe Portrait Lord Balfe (Con)
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My Lords, the latest variant is pretty mild—deaths have gone right down—but we are spending billions of pounds on this, while huge waiting lists are building up in the NHS. Is it not about time that this programme was wound down and the money spent on the millions of delayed operations and procedures?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, we are looking at the evidence in relation to the variant and the effectiveness of the vaccine against it all the time. I assure my noble friend that additional resources have already gone into the NHS to catch up on those waiting lists that have grown because of the pandemic. If we were to get this wrong and there were increased hospital admissions due to Covid, we would not be able to make the progress that he and we all want to see on tackling those waiting lists.