JUST 14% of the British public think that the coronavirus track and trace system should be run by private companies, as the Westminster Government has done.

A new poll, commissioned by We Own It and conducted by Survation, found that an overwhelming 74% of people want to see the system run publicly.

The percentage of people wanting the programme run by local public health protection teams and local health services has increased by seven points since Survation last asked the same question in June.

Speaking in May, Boris Johnson said: “We have growing confidence that we will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating and yes, it will be in place by June 1.”

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Since then, around £10 billion has been spent on England’s track and trace system, which is run by private companies despite the NHS name attached to it.

The national track and trace system in England is currently managed by outsourcing giant Serco and call centre company Sitel. The companies were initially contracted to run the system up to August 23.

However, their contracts were extended, potentially up to the value of £528 million and for an undisclosed period.

On June 18 it was announced that the contact-tracing app which the UK Government had been developing would be entirely scrapped due to functional issues. Its replacement has still not yet been rolled out nationally.

The coronavirus testing system, run by Deloitte, which handles Lighthouse Labs, has also seen huge issues. In recent weeks people have been sent hundreds of miles and sometimes across oceans to access a test.

Commenting, We Own It director Cat Hobbs said: “To get out of this crisis, to see our family, and hug our loved ones again, we desperately need an effective track and trace system.

“Sadly, the Government’s much promised ‘world-beating’ system is anything but. And the public understands this.

“This poll is a damning indictment on the Government's track and trace system.

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“The overwhelming majority of the public want to see it run by the people who know what they’re doing - local public health protection teams and the NHS.

“It’s absolutely staggering that the Government is clinging doggedly to its failed, privatised system.

“It’s time for them to face reality. It’s time for them to kick the private companies out of the system and give local public health protection teams the resources to run it instead.”

We Own It has been campaigning for private companies involved in the system to have their contracts ended.

Survation polled 1003 people aged over 18 and living in the UK. The fieldwork was conducted between September 15 and 16, 2020.

Their petition calling on the Government to scrap Serco’s involvement has received over 25,000 signatures.

A spokesperson for the UK Department of Health said: “This survey fails to recognise the integral role that public health teams and local authorities already play in NHS Test and Trace.

“This unprecedented national effort – drawing on the expertise and resources across the public and private sectors – has allowed us to build the largest diagnostic testing facility in British history, with a network of 400 testing sites across the country, allowing us to process over one million tests a week.”