The Covid crisis has shown how privatisation corrodes democracy | Chiara Cordelli

Not only has outsourcing failed citizens during the pandemic – it makes states less responsive and less accountable

While Britain hedges its bets on a mass vaccination programme and battles a new variant of coronavirus, daily life in New Zealand and Taiwan has been slowly returning to normal. There are numerous reasons these countries fared better during the pandemic, but one of the main reasons the UK has done so badly by comparison is the government’s decision to outsource huge swaths of its pandemic response to the private sector.

Ministers’ decision to outsource both testing and tracing, awarding contracts worth millions of pounds to companies such as Deloitte and Serco, has been a fiasco. These failings aren’t unique to Britain; in the Italian region of Lombardy, for example, 40% of all healthcare providers are privately owned. Because primary and preventive care are less profitable, the region suffers from a chronic under-provision of both. As a result, hospitals have been overburdened during the pandemic, while many wealthy Italians have turned to private clinics to pay for Covid-related care.

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