Former Sainsbury’s boss to take on key NHS Test and Trace role

The former chief executive of Sainsbury’s is to take over as testing director at NHS Test and Trace.

Mike Coupe, who retired as chief executive officer of Sainsbury’s at the end of May, is set to replace Sarah-Jane Marsh who is returning to her post as chief executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Baroness Dido Harding, who runs NHS Test and Trace and is interim executive chairwoman of the National Institute for Health Protection, said in an email to staff that Mr Coupe “will bring a wealth of experience in large scale supply chains, logistics and digital transformation”.

Baroness Dido Harding
Baroness Dido Harding

It is understood he will be in the role until Christmas.

Baroness Harding said in the email, seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), that “Sarah-Jane has led the team with unparalleled drive, compassion, and humour” and the agency had been “incredibly privileged to be able to ‘borrow’ Sarah-Jane for the last five months”.

She added: “There will be plenty of time over the next month to say thank you for the extraordinary job she has done and in the meantime I am confident she will be pushing us all hard to ensure we hit our 500k target (of daily testing capacity at the end of October), just as the testing team have hit every other target that they have ever been set.”

In 2018, Mr Coupe was forced to apologise after being caught singing Broadway hit We’re In The Money in between media interviews about a merger with supermarket giant Asda.

Earlier this month, Ms Marsh issued an apology to the thousands of people unable to get a test for Covid-19.