A property investment firm has been accused of trying to “jump the queue” for a coronavirus vaccine by offering GPs £5,000 for a jab.
The Hacking Trust, based in London, sent emails to surgeries in East Sussex asking for any unused doses to be given to members of its staff.
“We have been informed that many appointments are not kept and some do not attend at all. On this basis we would like to be informed as soon as possible of any “no shows” or cancellations on any given day which would result in unnecessary wastage of the vaccination.
“We will donate to the individual the sum of £5,000 for each successful vaccine for our staff members. This can be paid either as a charitable donation or to the staff member directly.”
The firm, which introduced itself as a “private medical company who is looking to vaccinate their front-line staff as soon as possible”, has since apologised, claiming that its “good intentions have been misinterpreted”.
A spokesman for the company said: “The Hacking Health Trust has offered in open correspondence to some GPs charitable donations to staff or surgeries in this difficult time for any vaccines which were unused. We had heard that some vaccines were being unused due to missed appointments.”
The government is making vaccinations available from the NHS for free, with priority given to those in the most at-risk groups from Covid-19, and the Department of Health and Social Care said vaccines “cannot be sold privately in the UK”.
Robyn Clark, a GP practice manager and director of the Institute of General Practice Management, said that she was “appalled that a company would offer money in any capacity to effectively jump the queue for a vaccine.”
She tweeted: “Practices are doing their upmost to ensure vaccine is given to the priority groups , as these are the most vulnerable in our society. The NHS is free and equitable to patients, always will be.”
Dr Nikki Kanani, director for primary care at NHS England, said: “NHS staff will never ask for, or accept, cash for vaccines, and the public will rightly take a dim view of anyone who tries to jump the queue.’
Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the 14 million most at risk from Covid-19 by February. The priority groups include care home residents, those aged 80 and over and patients classed as clinically extremely vulnerable because of pre-existing medical conditions.