Ministers are under pressure to come clean over payments to consultants after reports some are earning more than £7,000 a day to work on the government’s ailing Test and Trace programme.
Anthony Costello, a member of independent Sage group of scientists, described the figures as “shocking”.
Sky News said that the day rate for senior consultants on the project was around £7,000, even with a 10 per cent discount applied.
The figures equate to an annual salary of around £1.5 million.
The government’s flagship Test and Trace scheme has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks.
Ministers have spent billions on the system, but it is still failing to alert many people who have been in contact with suffers of Covid-19.
Sky News said the payments were being made to senior executives at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a leading firm of management consultants.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The figures being spent on this broken system are truly shocking.
“Testing and contact tracing is failing to keep the virus under control, which makes it even more disgraceful that such huge sums of money are being spent on something that isn’t fit for purpose.”
Labour MP Toby Perkins called for “dedicated public servants” to be used instead.
“You won’t find dedicated public servants being paid £7,500 per day, you won’t find them on £1.5m, but what you will find is a basic competence, a knowledge of their area, a desire to make sure that the systems work before they are implemented,” he said.
He added that in his former career in the sales industry: “I never came across a customer nearly as naive as what we have with the government.”
A department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “NHS Test and Trace is the biggest testing system per head of population of all the major countries in Europe.
“It’s processing 270,000 tests a day and nearly 700,000 people who may otherwise have unknowingly at risk of spreading coronavirus have been contacted.
“To build the largest diagnostic network in British history, it requires us to work with both public and private sector partners with the specialist skills and experience we need. Every pound spent is contributing towards our efforts to keep people safe as we ramp up testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.”