GPs leading Britain’s great vaccination drive have been forced to pause inoculations to allow other parts of the country to catch up, it was claimed today.
Practices that have already vaccinated every patient over the age of 80 and are now looking to dish the jabs out to the over-70s have had their deliveries cancelled by NHS leaders, according to The Telegraph.
Government sources claim ministers are deliberately trying to spread out limited supplies in case the immunisation programme is accused of being a postcode lottery.
Dr John Bedson, a GP in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, claimed today his practice had not yet been able to vaccinate a single patient, despite surgeries in more affluent areas of North Staffordshire already administering ‘thousands’ of doses.
Matt Hancock hinted today that a lack of supply was behind the decision to delay jabs despite the vaccination scheme desperately needing to get up to speed to reach its goal of jabbing 13million Brits by mid-February.
Quizzed over reports that GPs are having to pause vaccinations to let other practices catch up, the Health Secretary told BBC Radio’s 4 Today Programme: ‘The rate-limiting step on the rollout is the supply of the vaccine itself.
‘We are now managing to get that supply more than we have done before and it will increase over the next few weeks. We have the capacity to get that vaccine out. The challenge is that we need to get the vaccine in.
‘What I know is that the supply will increase over the next few weeks and that means the very rapid rate that we are going at at the moment will continue to accelerate over the next couple of weeks.’
Meanwhile, homeless people in Oldham, Greater Manchester, were given doses of the vaccine today – despite the fact 60 per cent of over-80s across the UK still haven’t been jabbed.
Lee Ullha receives an injection of a Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham as the Greater Manchester council rolled out the jabs for homeless people – despite the fact 60 per cent of over-80s across the UK still haven’t been immunised
Dr John Bedson, a GP in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, claimed today that his practice had not yet been able to vaccinate a single patient, despite sugeries in more affluent areas of North Staffordshire already administering ‘thousands’ of doses
Britain’s vaccine drive has started to pick up pace following the approval of the Oxford vaccine but has still only seen 2.43million people immunised against the disease since launching at the beginning of December.
Another 20,000 second doses were also added onto the cumulative total, with 2.8million shots administered in total.
Boris Johnson says Britain WILL dish out jabs 24/7 ‘as soon as we can’
Boris Johnson has confirmed Britain will dish out Covid-19 vaccines 24 hours a day ‘as soon as we can’ amid mounting pressure to ramp up the immunisation scheme.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Prime Minister said: ‘I can tell Sir Kier that we’ll be going to 24/7 as soon as we can. And (the Health Secretary) Matt Hancock will be setting out more about that in due course.
He added: ‘As he rightly says, at the moment the limit is on supply.’
Ministers were today preparing to rubber-stamp plans for trials of round-the-clock vaccinations, according to reports, after bowing to immense pressure to turbo-charge the roll out.
A senior Government source said No10 was considering a ‘pilot where vaccinations are offered for longer hours’ to gauge whether there is enough demand to keep jab hubs open through the night.
But there are serious doubts over whether they can deliver the scheme amid mounting concerns over vaccine supply – with Mr Hancock hinting this morning this was behind the decision to delay jabs in parts of the country.
But the daily vaccination figure needs to double if the Prime Minister has any chance of delivering on his pledge to vaccinate all 13.9million Britons in the top four priority groups by February 15.
With just 34 days left to deliver on his lockdown-ending promise, around 11.5million over-70s, NHS workers, care home residents and workers, and adults with underlying conditions still need to be vaccinated — the equivalent of around 340,000 a day.
It comes as a GP on the coronavirus frontline has accused the NHS of ‘discriminating’ against his patients – after not being able to vaccinate anyone over the age of 80.
Dr Bedson, from Mayfield Surgery in Longton, said his area has lost out to more affluent areas of North Staffordshire which have already administered thousands of doses of the vaccine.
He claimed NHS staff in his area have also been denied their second Covid-19 jab. The family doctor has blamed the non-delivery of fridges and vaccines by Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group for the problem.
Dr Bedson said: ‘I feel that my patients within South Stoke Primary Care Network (PCN) are being discriminated against. To date, we have not been able to vaccinate one 80-year-old.
‘It is apparent that Stoke-on-Trent North, Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands have received large numbers of vaccines that have been used.
‘In areas like Alton and Cheadle, all over 80s have been immunised. At the weekend in Stafford, more than 1,000 over-80s were immunised at the County Showground.’
He added: ‘There are three immunisation centres in North Stoke and three in Newcastle – and, as yet, only one in South Stoke.
‘There have been continuous delays created by Stoke CCG towards enabling more vaccination centres for the Longton area.
‘Initially, we were supposed to be running clinics on January 4 but the CCG did not provide the appropriate equipment, including fridges.
‘This was then put back to January 11 and now January 15. Apparently we can expect something like 1,300 vaccines for the whole of South Stoke next week.
‘On top of this, clinical staff have quite rightly received second vaccines in other primary care networks, but clinicians in the south of the city have only received one.
‘The Government has now made it clear that no further second vaccinations should be given to clinical staff.’
Dr Bedson said: ‘I understand this is national policy but there exists again a level of discrimination here and I believe it leaves myself and my colleagues in a more vulnerable position when dealing on a daily basis with this terrible disease.
‘I spoke with our own head of operations for vaccination in Staffordshire who was unable to tell me why certain practices had been given the go-ahead to vaccinate while others were put in later waves like us.
‘We have been ready for several weeks and have capacity in our own surgery to deliver 750 vaccines per week.
‘We were, however, told that GP surgeries were not being considered for that purpose at the moment.’