The first is how its budget has ballooned from £22bn, a sum comparable to the Department for Transport’s annual expenditure, to £37bn – and that this was still not sufficient to prevent, as intended, a second national lockdown from which Britain is only just beginning to emerge.
Next is the finding that consultants are still being paid £1,000 a day by the public purse – and how these arrangements, a legacy of Test and Trace’s poor leadership and reluctance of Baroness Harding to submit herself to regular questions in the House of Lords for example, risk making a mockery of the Government’s pretence that it can only afford to give NHS staff a one per cent pay increase.
Finally, Parliament’s watchdog clearly has little confidence in the organisation’s ability to put the necessary steps in place to prevent future outbreaks of Covid spreading and becoming a far greater risk to public health.
Even though the Government is still reluctant to call a Covid public inquiry now, it should be using reports like this to enhance Britain’s readiness for future pandemics and giving civic leaders the resources that they need for more bespoke local testing which is key to avoiding future lockdowns.
Rather than operating in a silo, Ministers should be embracing all constructive criticism – and ensuring, as Labour sets out, that public health policy and pandemic planning are developed in tandem in future.
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