Whitehall 'groupthink' is 'holding UK back' warns Kate Bingham

Whitehall ‘groupthink’ is holding the UK back and left us unprepared for Covid pandemic, warns vaccine mastermind Kate Bingham

  • Civil service ‘groupthink’ holding UK back, says vaccine rollout mastermind
  •  Kate Bingham warned of a lack of scientific knowledge among mandarins
  •  She said the machinery of government was dominated by process not outcome

Civil service ‘groupthink’ is holding Britain back, according to the mastermind of the Covid vaccine programme.

Kate Bingham warned the lack of scientific knowledge among mandarins and ministers had left the country ‘woefully unprepared’ for the virus.

And she said the jab rollout would have been delayed had it been left to the normal workings of government.

‘The machinery of government is dominated by process, rather than outcome, causing delay and inertia,’ Dame Kate wrote in The Times. 

Kate Bingham (pictured) warned the lack of scientific knowledge among mandarins and ministers had left the country ‘woefully unprepared’ for the virus

‘There is an obsessive fear of personal error and criticism, a culture of groupthink and risk aversion.’

Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser said that ministers lacked the scientific understanding necessary to realise the threat of the Covid pandemic and that senior civil servants did not have the scientific and technical comprehension needed to be ‘operationally effective’.

She added that this left the country exposed to future threats from cyberwarfare to climate change.

Civil servants were also accused of treating business with ‘hostility and suspicion’ in her criticism of their lack of skills in science, industry and manufacturing.

The 56-year-old, a venture capitalist in the life sciences, was put in charge of leading the vaccine task force last year.

The decision to buy jabs deemed most likely to succeed before results were available has been widely credited for helping Britain to start the western world’s first vaccine programme.

In a talk at Oxford University tonight, titled lessons from the vaccine task force, she also plans to suggest that the outcome of the vaccine programme could have been very different if it had not been for the involvement of chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, The Times reported.

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