Test and Trace director joins private testing firm recently handed a £113million government contract


Dr Emma Stanton has been appointed as a vice president at Oxford Nanopore after leaving director role with NHS Test and Trace

A director of the Government’s Test and Trace programme has quit her job and joined a private testing firm recently handed a £113million government contract.

Emma Stanton was Director for Supplies and Innovation as part of the government’s NHS Test and Trace response to covid-19 from June until last month.

On her LinkedIn page, she described her role as leading ‘the expansion of Covid-19 testing supplies for NHS Test and Trace to deliver mass testing’. 

However, Dr Stanton has now announced that she has been appointed the role of Vice President Clinical at biotech company Oxford Nanopore.

Stanton posted on LinkedIn last week: ‘I am excited to be working with the team on what this sequencing tech can bring to disrupt healthcare!’ 

In October, the Department for Health and Social Care announced that they had awarded Oxford Nanopore a £112.6million contract 

It came following an original order for 450,000 of the firm’s fast-response LamPORE tests.

The test can be portable, requires a saliva swab only, and machines can process up to 15,000 samples per day. 

According to the Sunday Times, Dr Stanton said her contract with the DHSC ended in the first week of November and it is unclear if it was due to be extended.

Her Government role involved ‘close collaboration with the country’s leading scientists’, according to her LinkedIn page.

Oxford Nanotech Technologies was awarded contract worth £112.6million for rapid Covid tests

Oxford Nanotech Technologies was awarded contract worth £112.6million for rapid Covid tests

She was responsible for testing supplies, including reagents, consumables and scaling up different technologies for COVID-19 testing. 

According to the Times, she was in regular contact with representatives from Oxford Nanopore and sources acknowledged that its staff had ‘not met’ Stanton before her role at Test and Trace. 

Directors at the firm receive pay packages worth up to £727,000 a year, according to the company’s accounts.

The appointment was approved by the government, although the DHSC said ‘conditions on her taking up this role were put in place’ which are thought to include confidentiality clauses, according to the newspaper.

 A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Emma Stanton’s appointment at Nanopore was subject to the usual Business Appointment rules process, and conditions on her taking up this role were put in place, commensurate to the short time she was working for the Department.

Who is Emma Stanton – Oxford Nanopore’s new Vice President Clinical

Dr Emma Stanton was employed by the Government on a fixed-term contract from June to November

Dr Emma Stanton was employed by the Government on a fixed-term contract from June to November

Dr Emma Stanton was Director for Supplies and Innovation as part of the government’s NHS Test and Trace response to the pandemic from June to November this year.

Prior to this, Emma was CEO of Four Eyes Insight – a company that specialises in finding clinical efficiency and building sustainable improvements to health care. 

As a qualified psychiatrist, she has worked for the NHS for 14 years and has held various leadership roles at Beacon Health Options – a US-based health improvement company – including as Associate Chief Medical Officer for Beacon in the USA.

From 2011 to 2017, Emma was Founder and CEO of Beacon in the UK.

She holds an executive MBA from Imperial College, London, a MRCPsych from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a BM from Southampton University. 

‘Emma helped shape the strategy of testing supply, covering a range of equipment and suppliers.

‘The Department’s commercial relationship with Nanopore on testing pre-dated Emma Stanton’s arrival and contracts with Nanopore and any other suppliers were subject to usual Government approval processes.’

The Business Appointment rules for civil servants state: ‘You must not misuse your official position, for example by using information acquired in the course of your official duties, to further your private interests or those of others.’

They go on to state that civil servants must not be influenced by ‘improper pressure from others or the prospect of personal gain’.

The Government states the rules are in place to avoid any reasonable concerns that a civil servant ‘might be influenced in carrying out his or her official duties by the hope or expectation of future employment with a particular firm or organisation’.

Oxford Nanopore has faced public scrutiny previously after it emerged a PR firm run by Lord Feldman represents Oxford Nanopore following a meeting with the company in which the former Tory chairman was  advising Matt Hancock on Covid.

Lord Feldman insists he had no involvement in the award of the multi-million pound contract despite his business now advising Oxford Nanopore after he worked for the Department of Health at the start of the pandemic.

The arrangement was been branded ‘troubling’ by Labour as a devastating report today lifted the lid on the cronyism and ineptitude that has characterised the Government’s £18billion rush to source PPE and other equipment during the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesman for Oxford Nanopore Technologies told MailOnline: ‘Scientists have shown that nanopore devices can rapidly and accurately characterise infectious disease, cancer samples, rare disease, even rapid tissue typing for organ transplants, as well as providing impact on multiple areas of COVID-19.

‘To bring these applications to reality, we like to recruit highly talented and driven people to add to our existing talented team.

‘Dr Stanton’s extensive experience in clinical and medical affairs built up over her 20-year health care career will help us to achieve this.

‘We first discussed the prospect of Emma joining Oxford Nanopore after she left her four-month fixed term role at DHSC.

‘She sought and obtained government approval through the Business Appointment Rules process prior to joining us, and this includes confidentiality provisions.

‘We are very proud to be playing a role in the fight against Covid-19. Our LamPORE test is fast, affordable, scalable and – following extensive third party verification – has been proven to deliver equivalent accuracy to PCR tests.’

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