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Test and trace privatisation is ‘dangerous,’ says Arthur Scargill

ARTHUR SCARGILL joined the chorus of criticism against the government’s failed coronavirus test and trace system today following calls for the Tory peer overseeing the mayhem to go.

The former miners’ leader presented himself as an example of the system’s failure as MPs and ministers called for Dido Harding to be given the boot.

Mr Scargill told the Star that he had to self-isolate for two weeks after being in contact with a person who had tested positive. 

But when he asked to be tested he was told he was not entitled to a test, even though he might have been the original source of the infection.

Mr Scargill, who was president of the National Union of Mineworkers during the miners’ strike against pit closures of 1984-5, called the privatisation of the service “stupid” and “dangerous.”

He said: “If the Chinese can test nine million people in a week in Qingdao, I have no doubt that our NHS surgeries and laboratories can test our entire population in eight weeks.”

The government has outsourced testing to a complex network of profiteering, mainly non-medical companies.

Accountancy firm Deloitte was given the contract to set up and manage a network of 50 testing sites.

Deloitte hired Serco, Sodexo, Mitie, G4S and Boots to staff and manage the sites.

Senior Tory backbencher Sir Bernard Jenkin, an ally of PM Boris Johnson, said: “The immediate priority is to fill the vacuum of leadership in test and trace” and suggested that Baroness Harding “could be given a well-earned break.”

Labour’s shadow mental health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said that Baroness Harding’s position as head of the test, track and trace system was “untenable.”

But the government is resisting pressure to sack the baroness, with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis insisting that she was doing “a very good job.”

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