NHS Test and Trace Is Changing To “Test, Trace and Contain”

NHS Test and Trace Is Changing To “Test, Trace and Contain”
Tap News / Weaver

They are not planning for this “pandemic” to end any time soon. On 17 November the UK Health Security Agency (“UKHSA”) published that a contract had been awarded to Accenture (UK) Limited for a “Trace, Contain & RTTS Delivery partner.” RTTS is the acronym for “Real Time Test Service.”

The contract value is £10,800,000 to £25,400,000 and it runs for three and a half years, from 29 October 2021 to 29 April 2025. It is for processing Test and Trace (“T&T”) data for UKHSA’s employees, visitors, business partners, suppliers, customers, potential customers and all the aforementioned’s employees. Data processing activities include: analysing, storing, copying and sharing data with third parties as instructed by UKHSA.

Services provided under the contract specifically relate to RTTS including “in support of COVID Certification.”

Crown Commercial Service Order Form, page 18

UKHSA was established in April 2021 and became fully operational on 1 October. It was created to integrate and replace NHS T&T and Public Health England (PHE) but also includes the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and the Centre for Pandemic Preparedness. “The UKHSA will bring together our national public health science and response capabilities, including cutting edge analytics and genomic surveillance, strengthening our national defences against all health hazards,” the Department of Health & Social Care (“DHSC”) stated when announcing the change.

According to a UK Public Accounts Committee article published in March 2021, in May last year NHS T&T was set up with a budget of £22 billion. “The £22 billion for test and trace is about the annual budget of the Department for Transport,” Meg Hillier MP said.

Since then, NHS T&T has been allocated £15 billion more: totalling £37 billion over two years. The DHSC “justified the scale of investment, in part, on the basis that an effective test and trace system would help avoid a second national lockdown – but since its creation we have had two more lockdowns,” the Public Accounts Committee wrote.

This is not the first T&T contract awarded or extended this year. In June Serco was awarded a fresh contract with the DHSC and on 23 August 2021, IBM was awarded a contract extension to provide its “Strategic Trace Solution” to the NHS T&T service for England which is expected to end in November 2023.

Accenture also has an ongoing contract with DHSC T&T, extended on 9 August 2021 for an additional year. At the time, Accenture was the third-highest ranked consultancy on the T&T spending list, after Deloitte and IBM.

Accenture’s extended contract is in addition to the contract signed with UKHSA a few days ago. What makes the latest contract different to the previous one is that it includes “contain” as well as “test and trace.”

What does “contain” mean? The answer lies in the glossary on page 19 of the order form from the Crown Commercial Service.

Crown Commercial Service Order Form, page 19

There are a couple of other definitions in the order form glossary worth highlighting: Daily contact testing (“DCT”) and Integrated Tracing System (“ITS”).

DCT suggests an alternative to self-isolation while ITS is a Salesforce system underpinning contact tracing as well as “international and border solutions.”

Daily contact testing – testing regime whereby citizens who have been identified as contacts of cases can take regular tests in lieu of self-isolating. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/daily-contact-testing-study

Integrated Tracing System – the name for the Salesforce based Domestic contact tracing system being developed and rolled out to replace the existing contract tracing system used since the start of the pandemic. The term is also used to describe the common Salesforce platform that underpins Domestic contact tracing, Enquiries, feedback & complaints and International & borders solutions.

Crown Commercial Service Order Form

The “Outline Implementation Plan” is on pages 36 to 39. Below are images of the plan as outlined in UKHSA’s document.

The entire plan has been redacted, including the footer and page number on the last page – perhaps an indication of their eagerness the public did not get to see a word of it.

On page 46 is information regarding processing, personal data and data subjects: “The primary purpose of the processing undertaken within the system is to provide the Services in order to provide a reliable and robust system to help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reducing the spread of the virus.”

To do this they apparently need educational and professional certifications, identification number, ethnic origin and “data concerning health.”

Crown Commercial Service Order Form, page 47

And who will be subjected to this invasion of privacy and lack of control over their personal data? Everyone UKHSA could possibly catch in their net, stopping just short of taking samples and collecting data from anyone who happens to be walking down the street.

Crown Commercial Service Order Form, page 47 and 48
Note: “Buyer” is defined as UKHSA

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