Michael Gove has defended £7,000 day rates being paid to private sector consultants who are helping the Government to set up and run its testing system.
Last week, Sky News said it had seen documents revealing Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was paid about £10 million for around 40 consultants to provide four months’ work between the end of April and late August.
The broadcaster said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) received a 10 to 15% discount from BCG, whose day rates for public sector work range from £2,400 to £7,360 for the most senior consultants.
Its report comes amid ongoing criticism of the Government’s £12 billion Test and Trace system.
Asked whether the spend was a good use of public money, he said: “Yes.”
The Cabinet Office minister continued: “Two things – firstly, it’s absolutely vital that we have all the expertise required from the private and the public sector in order to improve testing.
“As I pointed out earlier, we have a higher level of testing in this country than in any other European country, we’ve improving contact tracing all the time. Local health protection teams are doing particularly well in that regard.
“Separately, I’ve been clear as my colleague Lord Agnew in the Cabinet Office has, that we need to reduce our spend on consultants overall, but in the meantime, we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that we protect the NHS.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth described the figures being paid out as “truly shocking”.
He said: “Testing and contact tracing is failing to keep the virus under control, which makes it even more disgraceful that such huge sums of money are being spent on something that isn’t fit for purpose.”
Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson said: “Just imagine how far that money would go if it was given to local authorities.
“They are paying these consultants the weekly equivalent of what a nurse earns in a year.”