On May 21, Boris Johnson (pictured above) proclaimed in Parliament that, in order to stop a second coronavirus peak, a “world-beating” track and trace system would be “up and running” in time for schools in England to reopen on June 1.

It is now almost October and it is clear that Johnson has abjectly failed in his promise.

I have friends in Manningtree and district who have been asked to travel to Inverness or Swansea to be tested, because no local testing was available.

I work with a teacher in a hospital school who used postal testing kits when concerned about his four children. Two of these test results were never returned, having been lost in the system.

For years, we have been told that the private sector does things better than the public sector.

Having seen multiple failures when public services have been outsourced to the private sector (probation services, rail, and multiple council services across the country spring to mind), it comes as no surprise to hear that 22 of the 35 organisations involved in the test and trace system are private companies, including Serco, Sodexo and G4S. Good grief! The huge profit-making Amazon are also involved.

I urge readers to remember that although many of the testing workers are required to wear hoodies with NHS emblazoned on them, none of them work for the NHS.

For years, public sector contracts have been awarded to private companies whilst existing institutional resources and intelligence used to deliver goods and services were discarded.

In a time of national crisis, we now see that such polices have disabled the state in that it no longer has the ability or capacity to deliver public services and we are all being failed and put at risk by the private companies.

Dr Jim English

Chair of Manningtree branch, Labour Party