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Vaccine volunteers ‘left standing’ around as London falls to bottom of the national rollout league

London has fallen back to the bottom of the national vaccine roll-out effort and faces a challenge to hit the target of vaccinating its…

By admin , in London , at February 11, 2021 Tags: ,

London has fallen back to the bottom of the national vaccine roll-out effort and faces a challenge to hit the target of vaccinating its 1.5 million most vulnerable residents by Monday, the Standard can reveal.

Mass vaccination centres across the capital are reported to be standing idle — prompting calls for teachers, police and transport workers to be offered unused slots.

GP surgery hubs are having to pause the roll-out of jabs due to a lack of supplies, despite having staff on standby.

But NHS London says the vaccine programme “remains on track” to hit the target as the capital’s chief nurse urged everyone over 70 to have a “life-saving jab”.

Only 20,955 first doses were administered across the capital on Sunday — less than half the 45,621 given on the previous Sunday, according to NHS England data.

A further 25,708 doses were given on Monday and 31,181 on Tuesday but for the last three days the capital has fallen back behind the South-West into last place in the national league table.

By last night, a total of 1,255,046 Londoners had received a first jab. According to NHS London, there are about 1.5 million Londoners in the top four priority groups due to be offered a jab by February 15 — meaning the capital has six days to deliver about 250,000 more vaccines.

Today it emerged that the Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross, one of the capital’s mass vaccination centres, is only giving about 300 jabs a day – despite capacity for 1,000.

Crick boss Sir Paul Nurse said the UK’s vaccination programme was “going very well but it could go faster” and said the Crick’s spare capacity should be used to vaccinate teachers, police and transport staff at short notice.

Writing in The Times, Sir Paul said: “Hundreds of Crick scientists, with Nobel prize-winners among them, have volunteered to help to vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day, seven days a week, alongside our NHS colleagues.

“In our centre we are injecting at most only 300 patients a day. Our volunteers have been left standing around with little to do. The vaccines remain unused in the fridge. For the second week in a row we will be forced to close our doors this weekend because there are no patients.

“We are not alone in this. Other vaccine centres in London are experiencing a shortage of patients…. Every day that is missed costs lives and livelihoods.”

Dr Onkar Sahota, a GP and chairman of the London Assembly health committee, said “We have recently made positive progress with the vaccine rollout, but the Government have questions to answer over why London is falling behind other regions again, and why some of our testing hubs are not being used to anywhere near their full capacity.

“It was only last week that the Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, came before the London Assembly following assurances that the supply issues we previously saw in the capital had been fixed.

“But the latest figures would suggest that there are continuing problems with vaccine supply, in addition to some of the difficulties GP surgeries and vaccine hubs are facing when it comes to reaching and then persuading Londoners to get their jab.”

MPs have complained of some areas having too few vaccinationcentres – but of others having to close because of a shortage of jabs.

New sites are being opened in Greenford and Northolt after pressure from Ealing North MP James Murray. Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter said only 70 per cent of over-80s in his constituency and 55 per cent of the top four priority groups been vaccinated by last week.

Georgia Gould, the leader of London Councils and of Camden council, where the Crick is based, said: “We are seeing some worrying numbers in relation to the vaccine programme. The data we are seeing is showing some particular vaccine hesitancy from Asian minority communities.”

Council leaders want more of a role in convincing BAME communities – who are often the most at risk from the virus – that the jab is safe, but say they are hampered by a lack of local information from the NHS on vaccine take-up rates.

Teresa O’Neill, Tory leader of Bexley council, said: “What we really want to grab hold of is the data that is giving the evidence of who isn’t taking it up… to encourage, cajole and give the right facts.”

NHS London today said that data delays were to blame for the low number of vaccines recorded on Sunday, insisting that the true number was 36,261.

Martin Machray, NHS London chief nurse, said: “More than one million Covid vaccinations have now been given in the capital, meaning the majority of Londoners most at risk now have protection against Covid-19.

“Increasing numbers of people are getting vaccinated as close to home as possible with more than 200 now open across London, and we urge everyone aged 70 and over to accept the offer to have their life-saving jab.”

Nationally, about two million people need to be offered the jab to hit the Government’s February 15 target of vaccinating 15m people. Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said failing to hit the target would delay easing the lockdown.