NHS Covid app signs £10m six-month contract extension with developer Zühlke

Supplier will provide support for technology that could be scaled to 50 million users

Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images

The NHS Test and Trace programme has retained key supplier Zühlke on a £10m-plus contract to support the Covid-19 app for a further six months.

The Swiss-based firm was the main commercial partner in the construction of the application and, since March last year, has been awarded deals worth a cumulative total of more than £21m to provide development and support services.

Newly published procurement information reveals that, with a value of £10.26m, the latest contract is the company’s biggest yet. The engagement commenced on 15 March and lasts until 30 September.

Under the terms of the contract, Zühlke will provide support for the NHS Covid-19 app, its public dashboard and its supporting APIs and cloud infrastructure, as well as the Test and Trace programme’s website for administering self-isolation payments and the online platform that allows venues to create downloadable QR-code posters.

Services provided by the tech firm will include delivering the “response, recovery and resolution of production incidents” via a “managed team of engineers” deployed to the Test and Trace scheme.

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“There may need be a need for flexibility in terms of the number of staff deployed to best meet the buyer’s requirement for the project,” the contract said

It added: “The supplier will provide executive management and senior technical oversight free of charge… [and] the buyer may request in writing that the supplier shall provide ad hoc consulting and engineering services, if required… [and] on a case-by-case basis.”

As well as this technical support, Zühlke “will continue to provide ongoing analysis, design and development of new features” for the app.

“The supplier will provide product management, user experience and user interface design and architecture capabilities to work with the buyer to continuously develop and refine and a product roadmap of features, enhancements and improvements,” the contract said. “The product roadmap will document the current release schedule of planned features. The supplier and the buyer will regularly review and update the product roadmap to ensure it is aligned to the overall goals of the programme.”

It added “The supplier will deliver features from the backlog in an agile, iterative and incremental way. The supplier will organise [engineers]… into small teams that will each work on specific areas of functionality.”

In addition to assisting in the creation of new areas of functionality, Zühlke will be expected to support any increases in the “scalability” of the contract-tracing program – which the contract said has “been built to support at least 50 million individual app installations”.

The company will also support internal teams dedicated to the performance, security and availability of the software, as well as assisting with research and data science initiatives.


Sam Trendall

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