Health secretary Matt Hancock has insisted the leaders of the Test and Trace scheme ‘needs our thanks’ after it was put to him that Baroness Dido Harding should lose her job leading the initiative.
Hancock was asked whether Harding should remain in the job after senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin called for her to be removed.
The latest official figures showed fewer than 60% of the contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19 were being traced and told to self-isolate.
Boris Johnson is said to have “full confidence” in Harding, with Hancock going further saying that the leaders of the scheme “need our thanks”.
The health secretary said he “of course” has confidence in the Baroness “because yesterday we delivered a third of a million tests.”
But presenter Nick Ferrari pointed out that it was quality, not quantity that mattered.
“Last week was worse than the week before,” said Ferrari, before Hancock tried to deny the numbers.
Hancock explained: “This system, which is over the size of Tesco, has been built over the last six months”.
But the presenter pointed out if Tesco had achieved such low levels of success “it would no longer be with us”.
Defending the government scheme, Hancock continued: “We’re constantly every single day making improvements to it. I think the leadership of Test and Trace need our thanks…the number of people they’ve managed to contact in the last fortnight is double what it was the fortnight before. It’s the extraordinary growth of a really really important service.”