NHS Test and Trace chief Dido Harding should be axed over testing fiasco, says top Tory MP

1 month ago 6

A TOP Tory MP says NHS Test and Trace chief Baroness Dido Harding should be axed from her job over the UK's testing fiasco.

Boris Johnson ally Sir Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the powerful Liaison Committee of senior MPs, told Sky's Sophy Ridge, says the "heart of the problem" is "lack of overall strategy".

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An ally of Boris Johnson says Dido Harding must be axed as the head of Test and Trace

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An ally of Boris Johnson says Dido Harding must be axed as the head of Test and TraceCredit: Getty Images - Getty

It comes as Government officials plan to slash the self-quarantine period - as Brits aren't complying

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It comes as Government officials plan to slash the self-quarantine period - as Brits aren't complyingCredit: PA:Press Association

Baroness Harding oversees the Test and Trace programme - but Sir Bernard Jenkin has now called for her to be replaced by a military leader

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Baroness Harding oversees the Test and Trace programme - but Sir Bernard Jenkin has now called for her to be replaced by a military leaderCredit: London News Pictures

He made the comments on the day it was revealed Boris Johnson could cut the 14-day self-isolation period in half - because Brits are ignoring the Test and Trace system.

Experts working on the Prime Minister’s coronavirus taskforce are reportedly questioning whether the current period should be cut down to between seven and ten days.

New Sage documents revealed just one in ten Brits stay home for two weeks when told to self-isolate.

And this morning, Sir Bernard said the management of the crucial system is "bloated and muddled".

"The Test and Trace capability needs to move up several gears," he said.

"There is a sense that there is a lack of overall strategy that is at the heart of the problem."

Sir Bernard also wrote in The Telegraph that Baroness Harding "should be given a well-earned break" - adding that "the immediate priority is to fill the vacuum of leadership in Test and Trace".

Test and Trace hit a record low this week, with just 59.6 per cent of contacts successfully tracked down

Test and Trace hit a record low this week, with just 59.6 per cent of contacts successfully tracked down

Sir Bernard says the public has lost confidence in the system

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Sir Bernard says the public has lost confidence in the systemCredit: Reuters

It comes as millions of Brits - including those living in Manchester - face stricter measures under tier three

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It comes as millions of Brits - including those living in Manchester - face stricter measures under tier threeCredit: ASP

Bars and pubs in Manchester have been forced to close under the measures - unless they can provide a full meal to customers

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Bars and pubs in Manchester have been forced to close under the measures - unless they can provide a full meal to customersCredit: ASP

And he said a military leader should now be put in control of the programme - as the public have lost confidence in it.

"The challenge for the government is becoming one of public confidence," he said.

"Much incredible work is being done, but we are still a long way from the 'world-beating contact tracing system' promised in June."

The Government has promised to carry out 500,000 tests every day by the end of October.

But Test and Trace hit a record low this week, with just 59.6 per cent of the contacts of people who tested positive for the disease being successfully contacted and told to self-isolate.

The Government's own advisers say 80 per cent need to be contacted for the system to be effective.

The immediate priority is to fill the vacuum of leadership in Test and Trace

Sir Bernard Jenkin

But this afternoon, health chiefs hit back - with one Government official telling The Sun: “Dido Harding and her leadership team – drawn from the military, public and private sectors – have built the largest diagnostic industry the UK has ever seen.

"It is the equivalent of building an operation the size of Tesco in a matter of months.

“The NHS Test and Trace system has built a testing capacity of 400,000 tests a day, from a starting point of 2,000 a day in March. 

"This capacity is bigger per head than France, Germany, Italy and Spain and we have contacted over 1.1million people and asked them to self-isolate. We

need to improve in areas and we are very much focused on that, but we should be talking it up not down."

This week, the PM and his chief scientific adviser publicly admitted for the first time that the system is not working effectively.

At a Downing Street press conference on Thursday, Mr Johnson said he shares the public's "frustrations", adding: "I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we need to improve it."

And chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: "It's very clear there's room for improvement on all of that."

Mr Johnson is said to have become “disillusioned” with Test and Trace statistics after it was proved some were incorrect.

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The contact tracing system has missed more than 250,000 close contacts of people who tested positive for the virus.

And only 15 per cent of people received test results back within 24 hours.

The system has been consistently missing 40 per cent of contacts over four months, according to analysis by the Labour party.

It comes as the number of people testing positive for the virus has surged

It comes as the number of people testing positive for the virus has surged

Sir Bernard says Britain is a 'long way from the world-beating Test and Trace system promised in June'

Sir Bernard says Britain is a 'long way from the world-beating Test and Trace system promised in June'

Boris Johnson also publicly acknowledged the system's failures at a press conference this week

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Boris Johnson also publicly acknowledged the system's failures at a press conference this weekCredit: AP:Associated Press

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admits govt are looking at cutting coronavirus isolation times

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