The Test and Trace system "failed" at achieving its main objective despite receiving £37 billion of funding, according to a report by MPs.

It was set up rapidly last year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and was led by Baroness Dido Harding, with the aim of testing the nation and tracing contacts of positive cases.

However, a report from the Public Accounts Committee described the scheme as “muddled” and that a number of the aims of the programme have been “overstated or not achieved”.

This comes despite the programme being given £37 billion in funding over the course of two years - equivalent to 20 per cent of the NHS's entire budget.

Despite being called the NHS Test and Trace system, it was actually outsourced to private companies to run, such as Serco.

Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “The national test and trace programme was allocated eye-watering sums of taxpayers’ money in the midst of a global health and economic crisis.

“It set out bold ambitions but has failed to achieve them despite the vast sums thrown at it.

“Only 14 per cent of 691 million lateral flow tests sent out had results reported, and who knows how many took the necessary action based on the results they got, or how many were never used.

“The continued reliance on the over-priced consultants who ‘delivered’ this state of affairs will by itself cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

“For this huge amount of money we need to see a legacy system ready to deliver when needed but it’s just not clear what there will be to show in the long-term. This legacy has to be a focus for government if we are to see any value for the money spent.”

MPs have set out a series of recommendations and suggested improvements to the programme.