Those involved in the vaccination roll out have rightly attracted praise for the speed at which Britain has got on with vaccinating our population.
As I have expressed my despair that Britain has the highest death rate of any major nation, so I recognise that we equally lead the way in vaccinating.
However, I am concerned that the government- possibly stung by the criticisms of their unused Nightingale Hospitals- are unnecessarily prioritising the national vaccination centres over the locally run Primary care network hubs.
In Chesterfield our local hub has lain closed for most of last week and this week as the centres at Sheffield and Mansfield are prioritised by NHS England to receive vaccines. This has had two results.
Firstly, it means that the people in cohort 6, clinically vulnerable people under the age of 64 are waiting to receive a vaccine (because these are being administered locally in Chesterfield) whilst those in cohorts 7 and 8 (55-64 year olds) are racing ahead, effectively ‘overtaking’ a cohort considered more at risk.Secondly, it means that Chesterfield people are being asked to travel quite far afield to receive the vaccine and thirdly that there are many people who have been invited to register for a vaccine appointment only to find that there are no vaccine appointments available when they log onto the system.
If the national hubs were more efficient then I would have no issue with my constituents being asked to travel but the hub here in Chesterfield is working well and is capable of vaccinating up to 2,000 a day if only enough vaccines find their way here. I fear that the political priority of showing major government run centres churning these vaccines out is trumping the less glamorous but more efficient local programme being run by the primary care hubs and am sorry to say that thus far neither Ministers nor NHS England have shown much interest in recognising or addressing the issues we have.
I will continue to push and see if we can get more vaccines locally, and am encouraged to hear that our Winding Wheel hub will be open next Monday and Tuesday and would like to restate my gratitude and admiration for all those who are working so hard to help our country grasp the brighter post-COVID future we all aspire to.