Heath Secretary Matt Hancock abandoned plans to roll-out an NHS contact tracing app nationwide last week, after it emerged the software was not compatible will all smartphones. Today in the House of Lords, Health Minister Lord Bethell revealed the cost of the failed project has so far cost a staggering £11.8m of vital public funds.
Last month, Mr Hancock insisted the NHSX app would be up and running by mid-May and central to the Government’s test, track and trace strategy following a successful in the Isle of Wight.
Mr Hancock’s decision to go it alone unlike many other European nation has backfired after it transpired the app did not work on Apple phones and the UK is now working closely with the smartphone giant and Google to build a new system.
Sam Packer, from The Taxpayers’ Alliance condemned the Government for going it alone and wasting valuable funds.
He told Express.co.uk: “It is always hugely frustrating to see taxpayers’ money wasted, especially when there have been major red flags warning of the risk.
“With the Government’s less-than-stellar IT record, a decentralised approach was always going to be the sensible solution.
“The Government must remember, it is taxpayers’ money they’re putting at risk and guard against wasting it on unnecessary schemes.”
In the House of Lords Liberal Democrat peer Clement-Jones said the Government had shown “sheer incompetence and lack of humility” over the NHSX debacle.
He said: “It’s go it alone approach and attempt to shift the blame onto tech companies simply won’t wash.
“Isn’t it time the Government just accepted the fact that we can’t develop our own app and go straight to adopt the available interface, behind the off-the-shelf, decentralised app now in widespread use and introduced in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Denmark where they appear to be working well.”
There has also been a backlash in the Conservative ranks, former minister Lord Duncan of Springbank said: “I do feel that confidence in the Government has been shaken by this particular approach.”
READ MORE: Coronavirus LIVE: Boris announces lockdown easing as 56 more die in UK
“I mean it’s a good job he’s a tech savvy, expert on apps otherwise this would be right shambles now, wouldn’t it?”
Mr Hancock has defended the Government’s handling and insisted the app worked during trials on Android models.
He confirmed the Government is working with Apple and Google to create an “effective” track and trace system.
The Health Secretary refused to give a date and said it will be in action “as soon as possible”.