Practices in parts of the UK are finding vaccine deliveries limited because of catch up programmes elsewhere, it was alleged today.
The report in the Daily Telegraph suggests vaccine supplies are not keeping up with the success of some practice-based programmes. The government has warned for several days of potential bottlenecks in vaccine supply – although the UK has passed two million vaccinations.
Media GP Dr Mark Porter, who has a practice in the Cotswolds, said: “Our vaccine team is being put on pause as supplies and resources diverted to areas that still have higher risk groups to jab. I absolutely understand the decision but, if we had more vaccine, it wouldn’t be us or them but everyone together.” He said it was politically “more acceptable for GPs and hospitals to be seen to be slow – but not the super hubs.” He said he was concerned that services were “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Kay Keane, director of the Institute of General Practice Management, told the paper: “The first wave sites are being slowed down so that we’re doing everybody across the country at more or less the same time. There’s only so much vaccine to go round. It’s so your mother in Eastbourne gets the vaccine at the same time as her sister in Blackpool.”
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “Some GPs have really got their systems very slick and are vaccinating at a very fast pace. But I think it would be a problem if you have a 90-year-old in Cornwall who hasn’t got a vaccine, while 70-year-olds in Gloucester are getting a vaccine. However frustrating it is for practices, I support the NHS’s desire to make sure supplies are in the right place, according to the JCVI priority list.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “Actually, all GP sites are getting vaccine deliveries this week and next. Vaccination sites are working hand in hand with GPs, pharmacies, hospitals and care homes to offer vaccines to everyone in the top four priority cohorts, saving thousands of lives.”
Meanwhile in Yorkshire leading GPs warned that the massive vaccination drive could push many staff towards “burnout.” Speaking to the BBC, Dr Karen Forshaw, a GP in Doncaster, “As we go forward with the vaccination programme and more people are vaccinated, I think people will want to start to come back to normal much more. On top of that, we have got all of the stuff we stopped doing in the first lockdown, that we are trying to catch up on now. The workload will almost be exponential.”
Dr Katie Houston, a GP in Harrogate, said: “COVID has had a huge impact and while it has brought some momentum for helpful change, it has been at pace and hard to process.”
In Darlington in the north east, practices were seeking to tackle confusion among patients about where to go for vaccines. Some have received invitations from local practices and from a mass national mail-out about the super-hubs opened in some centres. In Darlington patients were being directed to Newcastle. The arrival of the letters led to practices being inundated with calls.
The town’s primary care network said local practices would continue to offer appointments.
A statement said: “Vaccine letters have gone out to over 80s today have caused confusion for vulnerable people and their families and added huge pressure to practices. Please be assured, if you are registered with a Darlington GP and 80 or over you are on our list.”