Outsourcing giant Serco has won a new contract worth up to £322 million to continue running Covid-19 testing sites for another year.
Bosses said they signed a new deal with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to operate regional, local and mobile testing centres in England and Northern Ireland following a competitive tendering process.
The value of the new 12-month contract, with the option of a six-month extension, could change significantly due to its flexibility to levels of demand in coming months, they added.
It means Serco will continue operating around 20% of sites across England and Northern Ireland, including drive-through and walk-in test centres, alongside mobile sites.
Serco chief executive Rupert Soames said: “We are proud of the part we have played in building and operating the UK’s highly successful Covid-19 testing infrastructure.
“From a standing start in March 2020, NHS Test & Trace has grown a network of regional, local and mobile sites which have delivered over 18.5 million individual tests, an average of 51,000 tests a day.
“We are delighted that the DHSC has selected us to continue to support them in providing these services for at least the next 12 months.”
He added that the new contract is unlikely to increase profits beyond previous guidance set out earlier this month.
On June 14, Serco said it expects underlying trading profit to hit £200 million this year – £15 million more than previously forecast due to the extension of Covid-19 restrictions.
Serco has faced criticism over the large profits it has made from the pandemic and its decision to start paying a dividend to shareholders.
In October 2020 ‘Failing’ Serco won another COVID contract without competition the outsourcing giant Serco was given a £57 million contract to run COVID testing centres across the UK without any competition.
The Department of Health and Social Care handed Serco and other private firms previously secret multi-million-pound contracts to provide “management services” at sites across the country.
Serco handed test-and-trace contract with no penalties for poor performance
Serco handed was test-and-trace contract with no penalties for poor performance
Helen Whately – the health minister – revealed that “contractual penalties” were “not included in test-and-trace contracts with Serco”.
In May 2021 The trial of two former executives at Serco has collapsed after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) failed to disclose evidence to the defendants, in a major blow to the UK’s anti-corruption agency.
A judge at Southwark crown court instructed jurors to return a verdict of not guilty for Nicholas Woods and Simon Marshall, two former directors of the Serco subsidiary Serco Geografix Ltd, after the SFO offered no evidence following its identification of its error.
The executives had been charged with using fraud and false accounting to artificially reduce Serco’s profit margins on a contract for the electronic monitoring of offenders on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
The SFO found a mistake which meant that material had not been disclosed to the defence. The SFO had sought an adjournment to seek a retrial, but the judge refused the application.
Earlier this year, the Commons Public Accounts Committee found that despite a budget of £22 billion, there was “no clear evidence” the NHS Test and Trace programme had contributed to a reduction in cases.
Serco has also faced criticism over the large profits it has made from the pandemic and its decision to start paying a dividend to shareholders.