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Coronavirus: Ex-Interserve chief to oversee COVID-19 testing network

The former boss of Interserve, the outsourcing giant, has been drafted in by ministers to help test thousands of key workers for COVID-19.

Sky News understands that Debbie White, who recently stepped down from her executive role at the company, has been asked to set up a network of testing centres across the UK.

The network will exclude NHS staff but be open to other key workers such as police and prison officers, according to people briefed on the plans.

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New centres are expected to be situated in locations such as university car parks.

Ms White’s role, which will be unpaid, has been created to help the government coordinate what is likely to be a vast and prolonged programme to expand coronavirus testing as the pandemic grows.


Insiders said that the proposed network for testing key workers was currently being led by the Department for Education, although the Department of Health is also likely to play an important role in its administration.

Ms White is a former executive at ICI, and then AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical giant.

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She also held a string of senior roles at the catering and facilities management group Sodexo before joining Interserve in 2017.

Image: Debbie White had recently stepped down from her role at Interserve

Interserve emerged last year from a brief spell in administration under the control of its lenders – a restructuring that salvaged tens of thousands of British jobs.

Ms White could not be reached for comment on Friday.


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