LONDON — Senior test and trace consultants in Britain working with the government to beat back the coronavirus are being paid a salary of around 7,500 pounds ($9,000) each per day, Sky News reported Wednesday.
According to documents seen by the broadcaster, Boston Consulting Group is providing the government with a discount of 10 to 15 percent for its work to oversee the program — but the rates are still equivalent to an annual salary of nearly $2 million for each consultant.
“You won’t find dedicated public servants being paid 7,500 pounds per day. You won’t find them on 1.5 million pounds,” opposition lawmaker Toby Perkins said in response to the news as Labour health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth called the figures “truly shocking.”
The revelation also sparked fury on social media, with many pointing out that overworked National Health Service staff who have risked their lives to treat covid-19 patients make significantly less than the private sector consultants.
The average salary of a NHS nurse is around $42,000 per year, according to the Royal College of Nursing.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told British media that “every pound spent is contributing toward our efforts to keep people safe.”
England’s test and trace system has been widely criticized in recent months, with many people finding it hard to obtain a test or being asked to drive hundreds of miles to be swabbed. Critics say the government reacted too slow to the outbreak and to implement an effective testing strategy.
Last week, officials admitted that a computer system failure had “lost” an estimated 16,000 new coronavirus cases in England, an error that meant 50,000 people were delayed in finding out they had been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
More than 43,000 people have lost their lives to the virus in Britain, and the country is grappling to control a second wave, with infections continuing to rise.