Saturday 15 May 2021

Conflict erupts over testing costs for ‘Coronavirus-free’ events: FD

The Lead Healthcare headquarters in Baarn. Photo: ANP / Hollandse Hoogte / Caspar Huurdeman

The foundation running a programme of ‘coronavirus-free events’ in the Netherlands is involved in a major conflict about costs with the company running the testing side of the operation, the Financieele Dagblad reported at the weekend.

The dispute follows widespread criticism at the cost of the ‘testen voor toegang’ programme, which has a budget of €1.1bn up to August.

The paper says the foundation SON is refusing to pay the €35m bill for setting up and organizing the test centres – based on an agreed fee of €30 per person, excluding the actual test itself.

That fee, charged by sole provider Lead Healthcare, was based on calculations by EY and Deloitte. However, research by purchasing advisory group Procurance has suggested €8.92 per test would be a more reasonable figure, the FD said.

Lead Healthcare chief executive David van Hartskamp told the paper that the fee is ‘impossible’, given all the costs that have to be met – from renting space to developing the IT platform and hiring medical staff for the 34 test centres.

Now the health ministry has called in a fourth consultancy IG&H to look at the actual cost again. It has also brokered a €24m interim settlement.

Dismantle

Meanwhile, SON is demanding that Lead Healthcare start dismantling its test locations from May 15. Its contract for providing test services expires on June 1.

From June, testing will be contracted out to seven other operators, who tendered for a contract. But whether they will be ready or not remains uncertain, the FD said.

‘It is SON’s responsibility to make sure there is sufficient capacity at the moment the government wants to start using proof of testing [for admittance to events],’ a health ministry spokesman told the paper.

The ‘testen voor toegang’ events are different to Fieldlab experiments, which study visitor behaviour.

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