£7,000 a Day for a Test and Trace Consultant? Here’s What Else It Could Buy

The estimated £1.5 million salary paid by the government to Boston Consulting Group staff equates to the annual salary of 45 nurses.
October 19, 2020, 8:30am
£7,000 a Day for a Test and Trace Consultant? Here’s What Else It Could Buy
Illustration: Helen Frost.

From the lack of PPE for hospital staff to Dominic Cummings’ unlawful trip to county Durham, the British government has managed coronavirus with such inadequacy that it’s little wonder we have suffered one of the worst death tolls in Europe.

This week, another controversy emerged when it was reported that the government is paying consultants from the privately owned Boston Consulting Group (BCG) around £7,000 a day to work on the NHS Test and Trace system. Documents seen by Sky News show that 40 BCG consultants had been paid around £10 million over a four-month period by the Department of Health and Social Care.

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According to Sky News, the day rates for BCG staff working on Test and Trace are equivalent to an annual salary of around £1.5 million.

It’s a shocking amount of public money, especially at a time when the government has fought against supporting small businesses in lockdown areas due to a lack of money. What’s more, Test and Trace barely works. In many areas with outbreaks, the system has failed to reach 80 percent of named contacts –the clinical target epidemiologists say is needed for contact-tracing to be effective.

Here are some of the things that £1.5 million could have paid for instead.

The annual salary of 45 nurses

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According to the Royal College of Nursing, nurses are paid an average of £642 a week, equating to an annual wage of £33,384. BCG’s £1.5 million salary is enough to pay 45 nurses for a year.

The tuition fees of 56 undergraduate students

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Illustration: Helen Frost

First-year university students have had it rough this year, battling both an unfair A-level algorithm and mass outbreaks in residential halls. If the government’s spend on consultants were redistributed to the student population, 56 students could study for three years, at £9,000 a year, for free.

The annual salary of 46 bus drivers

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Illustration: Helen Frost

Bus drivers have been at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, placing themselves at greater risk in order to do their jobs. In London, 29 bus drivers died of coronavirus, prompting a review into why so many lost their lives while working.

The average salary for a bus driver is £32,500. Using the money spent on BCG consultants, the government could have paid the yearly wages of 46 bus drivers.

10,067 private coronavirus tests

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Illustration: Helen Frost

One of the biggest obstacles to stemming coronavirus infections in the UK has been the lack of tests. A nationwide testing shortage last month saw people asked to travel 500 miles to reach a testing centre with enough capacity.

For £1.5 million, the government could afford 10,067 private coronavirus tests, which cost £149 each.

854 hours of work of a private social carer

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Illustration: Helen Frost

Adult social carers – especially those working in care homes – faced immense difficulty at the beginning of the pandemic when outbreaks spread among elderly and vulnerable residents.

Private carers are paid an average of £8.20 an hour. The day rate for a BCG consultant is £7,000 – equivalent to 854 hours for a carer. That’s almost six months of work.