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COVID-19 Testing Programme

Department of Health & Social Care


In March 2020, the arrival of a global pandemic public health crisis saw the majority of the country heading into lockdown.

Meanwhile, along with forty public and private sector companies, a large and varied team from Deloitte rapidly stepped up to support the creation and expansion of testing as part of the NHS Test and Trace Programme that’s at the heart of the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within six months the NHS Test and Trace Programme had 30,000 people working for it, with 75 drive through test sites and 118 walk through test sites operational across the country, and over 16 million tests had been delivered with a longer term objective to significantly scale that up further. The UK conducted more tests per capita than the majority of European countries.

How we helped

Our role has involved working with DHSC and various suppliers to build and maintain testing capacity, with continued support for mass testing, home testing, community testing and testing at NHS trust locations and care homes. It has also involved working in collaboration with the DHSC to scale Mobile Testing Units and continue increasing capacity across the national network of Lighthouse Labs, which are facilities dedicated to COVID-19 testing for the national testing programme. In addition, it includes providing delivery support for antibody testing and surveillance studies, and transitioning Deloitte’s work on the testing programme to Civil Servants and local leaders.

“We are incredibly proud of the role that all of our people have played in supporting the creation of the testing programme and the results achieved. One of our clients described it as having to build an organisation the size of the BBC, from scratch, in just a matter of days,” said Sara Siegel, Deloitte’s UK head of healthcare.

At the centre of this mix of expertise are our digital skills. “The booking system was designed, built and live within three weeks” said Deloitte Digital partner Joel Bellman “and now handles more orders per day than most major retailers.”

The expertise of Deloitte’s real estate professionals was a vital part of the operation, with factors such as size, accessibility and the length of time the site would be available for important considerations in decisions on where to locate testing sites. Once locations were identified, our team supported discussions with landlords, local authorities and NHS bodies to help select the best sites and get these approved and ready.

Once sites were identified and secured, they needed a workforce with the right training and a supply of equipment and technology. Then, with a site secured, staffed and stocked, they were transitioned over to facilities management companies to manage the day-to-day operations from there.

In all, within 37 days of Deloitte’s appointment to support the testing programme, 50 test sites had been mobilised.

…having to build an organisation the size of the BBC, from scratch, in a matter of days…

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