“WOEFULLY inadequate” record-keeping by the government makes it “impossible” to have confidence that all its Covid-19 testing contracts with Randox were awarded properly, MPs say.
A report by the commons public accounts committee (PAC), released today, accuses the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) of failing in its duties to be “transparent” about meetings its ministers had with Randox Laboratories Ltd.
It also claims that “basic Civil Service practices to document contract decision-making were not followed.”
Between January 2020 and December 2021, the DHSC and Public Health England (PHE) awarded 22 contracts to health company Randox, or its strategic partner, Qnostics Ltd, with a maximum value of £776.9 million.
But the report states: “Woefully inadequate record-keeping by the department makes it impossible to have confidence that all its contracts with Randox were awarded properly.
“The potential for conflicts of interest was obvious, but the department neglected to explicitly consider conflicts of interest in its awarding of contracts to Randox.”
The report also highlights that following the initial £132m contract, awarded with no competition and without any performance measures, Randox struggled to deliver the expected level of testing capacity.
And the government “still awarded Randox a contract extension worth £328m seven months later, again without competition.”
The company saw a hundred-fold increase in its profit in the year to June 2021.
PAC chairwoman Dame Meg Hillier said: “This looks less like just the rushed policy and contract-making that we’ve seen across so much of the government’s response to the pandemic.”
The DHSC should set out how “it intends to strengthen its transparency processes and ensure that it enforces requirements and takes action where they are not followed,” the report suggests.