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10 facts about Serco’s role and performance on NHS Test & Trace

When the UK Government looked for support on its national testing and tracing programme, Serco responded to the Department of Health and Social Care, the NHS, and other partners to help deliver one of Europe’s biggest systems.  However, both our role and the performance of the service is poorly understood.

Here are 10 facts which everyone should understand:

1. What we do:

Serco is proud to be playing a part in the NHS Test & Trace programme. However, the part we play is limited and specific. We account for just 1.5% of the overall investment in the service:

  • We are one of five suppliers managing fixed and mobile sites where people go to get tested. We currently manage about 25% of these in the UK, and over the last six months those sites have successfully delivered 3 million tests.

  • On the tracing side, our main role is one of two companies in the national system responsible for telephoning the people identified to us by NHS Professionals as having been in contact with people who have tested positive. Recently, we have also been adding some temporary, minimal, non-clinical support to NHS Professionals, but this has not previously been our role.

2. What we do not do:

  • We are not involved in any other parts of the Test and Trace process

  • We are not involved in the design and management of the overall Test or Trace programme.

  • We are not involved in modelling the capacity requirements of the system.

  • We are not involved with the NHS App, the IT systems, the booking of tests, the provision of test kits, the test laboratories, or delivering test results.

3. The UK Government has, with its partners, built one of the largest testing system in Europe: Over 34.4 million tests have been delivered by NHS Test & Trace - it is now one of the largest testing system in Europe conducting around the same number as France, 78% more than Germany, 207% more than Italy, and more than double the number in Spain every week.  

4. Since Test and Trace began it has successfully traced 4.4 million people and asked them to self-isolate.

5. 92% of the close contacts spoken to by the national system of which Serco is a part agree to self-isolate or are appropriately redirected to another part of NHS Test & Trace

6. The national system has successfully reached 89% of close contacts who they are given the right phone number for.

7. For those close contacts the national system doesn’t reach, almost half are due to wrong phone numbers being provided to us, the rest don’t answer after 10 attempts.  However these people may well be reached by the NHS Test & Trace App.

8. A recent change means children can now be reached by our tracers via their parents - until lately, our tracers had to speak to every individual in a household – be they tots, toddlers or teens – for them to be counted as ‘reached’. 

9. Statistics have often been compared when they are not comparable. Other parts of the UK, for example Wales, have, since the start, in some cases counted as reached individuals in a household when only one member of that household has been contacted.  The Scottish system has a lower threshold for defining someone as reached – with an SMS text message being sent to the individual enough to qualify. 

10. The system has actually been reaching more people than thought for some time.  Before a recent change, 75-80% of close contacts recorded as ‘not reached’ by the central system actually lived in the same household as someone who has tested positive and who has already been made aware of their diagnosis. This means that, in fact, since the beginning, 90-95% of people who genuinely needed to hear from the national tracing system have likely been doing so.

Serco is proud of all the tracers playing a part in the frontline fight against Covid-19 and saving lives.