"NHS Test and Trace call handlers spent just one per cent of their time working in a bid to avert a lockdown, a damning report has found.
Some 18,000 call handlers were employed in May and £22 billion spent but much of that was frittered without proper scrutiny, the spending watchdog says.
The National Audit Office has found call handlers’ “utilisation rate” was just one per cent as the much of the money – equivalent to a fifth of the NHS budget – was spent away on outsourced providers.
Its highly critical findings come after it was reported contact tracers were "sitting around watching Netflix".
Auditors found that in the early months, clinical staff on the NHS Test and Trace programme weren’t that busier either, spending just four per cent of their time working.
After facing criticism, the Government cut call handlers 18,000 to 12,000 and moved remaining ones to help local authorities track down outbreaks to make the service more effective in local areas.
One contact tracer said she was paid £4,500 to sit at home, where she has streamed shows such as Breaking Bad, Below Deck and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
The woman –-who was signed up in May by Sitel - said: “I haven’t made a single call. I’ve been using the time to job hunt and watch Netflix."