Vaccine minister pledges to monitor St Albans' COVID vaccine supply after Daisy Cooper meeting
- Credit: Press Association
The government’s vaccine minister has pledged to monitor St Albans' Covid vaccine supply in light of a meeting with MP Daisy Cooper and GPs running the Batchwood Hall vaccination centre.
In the virtual meeting, Nadhim Zahawi also agreed to nominate Batchwood as a possible pilot site to trial a new booking system designed to break down communication issues between GP-led centres and NHS vaccination hubs.
Last month, Batchwood's services were commended by health secretary Matt Hancock for being one of the best-performing vaccination sites in the country.
Since then, the centre's vaccine supply has dwindled, forcing it to fall behind other areas. Batchwood's clinical leads Dr Helen McAndrew and Dr Mike Walton told Mr Zahawi that they had not received a satisfactory reason as to why they are currently in a supply deficit.
This issue of bookings is of increasing concern now as people are starting to ready themselves for their second vaccines, which should be administered at the same site as the first.
Dr McAndrew and Dr Walton warned that the NHS’s national booking system was allowing patients to arrange their second jab at an alternative centre, causing logistical chaos and wasting valuable clinical and administrative time.
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Mr Zahawi disclosed that plans are being made to streamline the dual booking systems; currently, mass vaccination centres use the NHS national booking system and GP services access their own patient records. GP-led centres, such as Batchwood, will be encouraged to migrate to the NHS system.
Dr Walton said: “We understand that second dose supply has been secured and this is comforting for those awaiting their second vaccine, and that first dose supply will be reduced across the UK in April. But we’d welcome an investigation into why the supply of vaccine to our GP group has not reflected our size.
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“We could definitely benefit from a more streamlined system that reduces the duplication of work and public confusion, and most importantly one that listens to local experts about how best to ensure that as many people as possible receive the life-saving vaccine in the safest and most efficient way.
“This is not always through the provision of additional sites but using established and popular sites to their capacity.”
Daisy added: “Everyone working at the Batchwood centre has done a fantastic job, despite frustrations with supply and logistics. After weeks of pursuing this issue, I was pleased to secure a meeting with the minister so he could hear directly from the GPs working on the frontline of the vaccination effort.
“This is a step in the right direction towards more people in St Albans being vaccinated at a location in the city, instead of being redirected to a hub miles away.”