A NORTH-EAST MP has said vaccine clinics had to be ‘stood down’ due to issues with supply last week as confusion remained over whether the region would see a reduction in doses.
Labour MP for North Durham, Kevan Jones revealed some clinics in his constituency could not run due to a lack of vaccines as he warned any reduction could delay the programme.
His comments came as last night, Conservative MPs across the region denied that Covid vaccines would be “redirected” to other parts of the UK, just 24 hours after a top NHS boss appeared to confirm the claims.
Speaking to The Northern Echo on Friday, Mr Jones said the Government needed to be ‘transparent’ with any issues with supply following widespread reports that the region’s allocation would be reduced.
He said: “The Government are doing exactly what they have done since the pandemic, they are over promising and under delivering and it’s causing a lot of anxiety amongst constituents who are over 80 and have not received their vaccine.
“We still have 80 and 90 year olds in Durham who are still not getting their vaccine – the issue is the Government need to be transparent, if there is a problem with supply then explain it, and explain what the timeframes are.”
Mr Jones, who said the Government should not be “lumping” the North-East and Yorkshire together when making decisions on supply, said a number of vaccine clinics could not run last week due to supply.
He said: “Just last week, the vaccine hub in Chester-le-Street had to be stood down because there was no vaccine.”
Mr Jones added that he believed any deviation from the initial rollout would delay the vaccination of those over 80 and have a knock-on effect on those receiving their second dose.
Earlier this week, the Director for Primary Care at NHS England responded to concerns raised by a Northumberland GP who said vaccine clinics could not run due an apparent cancellation of supply.
In response to Ben Burville, Dr Nikita Kanani said the NHS was “making sure” the progress the region had made was being “afforded” to the rest of the country at similar rates.
But denying that vaccines would be “redirected” from next week, Conservative MPs from across the North-East issued a joint-statement after a meeting with the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi on Friday.
In it, they said MPs had been “assured” that vaccines would not be redirected from the region, and said: “The Minister confirmed that the North-East will continue to receive exactly the same proportion of vaccine supply next week as they did this week, with 1m vaccines being delivered to the North-East and Yorkshire to date.
“This will allow the region to continue to vaccinate the four key priority groups to meet the deadline of 15th February. There is no regional redirect happening.”
Their statement came just hours after Dr Kanani again appeared to confirm the shift in supply when she told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I understand my colleagues’ frustration, particularly in the northern areas.
“They have done an incredible job getting through their top priority cohorts – the over 80s and health and social care staff.
“And so while we have supply that is constrained, we need to make sure that in the areas where people are not vaccinated, our priority is to make sure the top priority groups are vaccinated as soon as possible.
“So we need to target our deliveries to make sure they are going to areas where there are more people left to vaccinate in the top priority cohorts.”
A Government spokesperson did not deny or confirm reports that the vaccine supply would be reduced in the region but said: “In the coming week millions of doses of the vaccines will be delivered and we remain on track to offer first vaccinations to the top four priority groups by mid-February.
“As we’ve said, supply is the limiting factor and as the public would expect we’re prioritising those most at risk from this disease across the country.
“Our approach so far has ensured we’ve vaccinated more people than every country in Europe combined.”
- The Northern Echo contacted NHS England for comment but did not receive a response at time of publication.