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Coronavirus UK: Doctors throw away Covid vaccine doses because of patient no-shows – Daily Mail

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9133765/Coronavirus-UK-Doctors-throw-away-Covid-vaccine-doses-patient-no-shows.html

Britain’s coronavirus vaccination drive was hit by yet more chaos today after it was claimed doctors are having to throw away doses meant for patients who didn’t turn up and that elderly patients are having to queue outdoors in the freezing cold because the NHS’s IT systems keep crashing. 

The UK’s mass immunisation programme is being massively scaled up, with seven major vaccine centres opening today in the hope of inoculating the 13million most vulnerable residents by mid-February and easing the endless cycle of restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to hit 200,000 jabs per day by Friday.

But the sluggish scheme has been hit by hiccups since it began last month. And it was revealed today that one hospital in London has had to bin doses of vaccines because people aren’t turning up for their appointments, with staff reportedly phoning friends and family to rush in and use up leftover supplies, which only last for hours out of the freezer.

Meanwhile IT problems – known to be the health service’s Achilles heel – have led to patients having to queue outside for their vaccines while staff try to get systems working. The British Medical Association (BMA) said the programme being used to organise the jab schedules was running ‘unbelievably slowly’ and crashing.

Seven huge mass vaccination centres opened today, in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Stevenage, Bristol, Surrey and Newham in central London.

There are at least another 1,000 sites across Britain giving out jabs made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Regulators last week approved a third vaccine, made by US firm Moderna, but No10 will not get any doses until the spring at the earliest.

Covid vaccines are being offered to all elderly people in Britain in the next five weeks as the Government aims to get jabs to all those most at risk of dying from coronavirus by mid-February (Pictured: A man receives his jab at Epsom Racecourse in Surrey)

Covid vaccines are being offered to all elderly people in Britain in the next five weeks as the Government aims to get jabs to all those most at risk of dying from coronavirus by mid-February (Pictured: A man receives his jab at Epsom Racecourse in Surrey)

Covid vaccines are being offered to all elderly people in Britain in the next five weeks as the Government aims to get jabs to all those most at risk of dying from coronavirus by mid-February (Pictured: A man receives his jab at Epsom Racecourse in Surrey)

Medical workers are pictured with members of the public at the vaccination centre in Epsom, Surrey

Medical workers are pictured with members of the public at the vaccination centre in Epsom, Surrey

Medical workers are pictured with members of the public at the vaccination centre in Epsom, Surrey

Doctors are reportedly having to throw away doses of coronavirus vaccines because patients aren't turning up to their appointments

Doctors are reportedly having to throw away doses of coronavirus vaccines because patients aren't turning up to their appointments

Doctors are reportedly having to throw away doses of coronavirus vaccines because patients aren’t turning up to their appointments

Seven mass vaccination centres have opened today in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Stevenage, Bristol, Surrey and Newham in central London (Pictured: The facility at the Centre for Life in Newcastle)

Seven mass vaccination centres have opened today in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Stevenage, Bristol, Surrey and Newham in central London (Pictured: The facility at the Centre for Life in Newcastle)

Seven mass vaccination centres have opened today in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Stevenage, Bristol, Surrey and Newham in central London (Pictured: The facility at the Centre for Life in Newcastle)

People are pictured queuing outside the vaccination centre in Newcastle this morning

People are pictured queuing outside the vaccination centre in Newcastle this morning

People are pictured queuing outside the vaccination centre in Newcastle this morning

One nurse at a West London hospital, who spoke on the condition she remained anonymous, said her colleagues were having to bin supplies of the vaccines.

Pfizer’s vaccine in particular must kept in tightly controlled conditions, and only lasts for a few days after being defrosted, with an even shorter shelf-life when it has been removed from the fridge.

Supplies must be used as soon as possible after being prepared.

As doses have to be prepared quickly so medics can get through patients at speed, some will be got ready to use but then left standing if people don’t turn up, and may ultimately have to be thrown away or given to someone else at random. 

The nurse said: ‘It’s happening all over London, and probably right across Britain.

‘Loads of people are not keeping the appointments their GPs have made for them. The trouble is the vaccine has to be given or it has to be thrown away.

‘On Thursday night we had something like 45 people who were booked for jabs but didn’t turn up, and didn’t let us or their GP know in advance.

‘Had we known they weren’t coming, someone else could have been slotted in in their place.

‘We were left hanging around, and then when they didn’t show up, we were faced with the choice of throwing the vaccine away or trying to get it into someone’s arm.

Above are the locations of the seven mass vaccination centres that will begin operating from today

Above are the locations of the seven mass vaccination centres that will begin operating from today

Above are the locations of the seven mass vaccination centres that will begin operating from today

‘I rang some friends and said ‘How quickly can you drop everything and get here? Other staff were doing the same.

‘Some people we rang were able to come in at short notice and they had the vaccine, but a lot of it had to be thrown away because we can’t keep it beyond a certain time.

SUPPLY SHORTAGE THE BLOCK TO 24-HOUR VACCINATIONS, MINISTER SAYS 

Britain’s vaccines minister today blamed a shortage of the Covid-19-killing medicine for not having jabs 24/7 across the country as England’s new mass vaccination hubs opened this morning offering an injection every 45 seconds.

Nadhim Zahawi also admitted that said that most people currently had ‘about a 45-minute drive’ to the seven NHS sites opening their doors this morning, most of whom are over 80, amid claims the vulnerable face ‘gruelling’ trips to get their jab because not enough GP surgeries are taking part.

Mr Zahawi has said the vaccine rollout could take place 24 hours a day ‘if we need to’, but only when there are high enough levels of jabs vaccine. He also suggested those mainly elderly Britons needing vaccinations now are unlikely to want an appointment in the middle of the night, meaning the current opening hours will continue to be 8am to 8pm.

Pressed on whether it could be administered night and day when there is sufficient vaccine, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘If we need to go to 24-hour work we will absolutely go 24 hours a day to make sure we vaccinate as quickly as we can’.

Fears remain that the government may be overpromising how much can realistically be delivered – or not pushing hard enough to vaccinate the entire population and release the UK from lockdown.

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said today that Boris Johnson’s ‘first priority’ must be to accelerate the scheme to ’round the clock’, adding: ‘This is now the only way out of the darkness’. Sir Keir also believes the Government’s 2million jabs per week should be doubled to 4million by the end of February.

‘I think it’s deplorable and a scandal that people are offered a slot and then just don’t turn up, and never get in touch.’

The Government is not yet publishing data revealing how many people are turning down or failing to attend appointments to get the vaccine.

Weekly figures show that 1.3million people had been vaccinated by last Thursday, January 7, and daily updates are expected to begin today.

The Government’s plan is to vaccinate 13.9million people by February 15, aiming to cover the people most at risk of dying of Covid-19 if they get it, as well as health and care workers.

These include everyone over the age of 70 and people who are on the shielding list because of serious long-term health conditions.

This will require vaccines to be given at a rate of between 2million and 3million per week, a massively ambitious requirement that could be hampered by speed bumps already emerging at clinics.

The nurse added: ‘I know from the grapevine it’s not just our hospital, it’s happening across London, and probably across the entire country.

‘We didn’t fell guilty calling friends and family – what else were we to do?’

As well as issues with getting all the precious doses used, NHS staff they the IT system they are using to run the programme – called Pinnacle – is unreliable.

The British Medical Association has warned the computer problems were raised with senior managers a month ago but are still persisting.

Patients have been pictured queuing outside of vaccine clinics and staff resorted to making notes with pen and paper when their computers stopped working, The Telegraph reported.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the association’s GP committee, said: ‘We find we’re trying to upload important information and that we can’t, or the system crashes altogether.

‘It’s unacceptable. When trying to get through as many patients as possible, you can’t afford to waste a minute, you can’t afford for the entire system to be a hindrance.’

Britain’s vaccines minister today blamed a shortage of the Covid-19-killing medicine for not having jabs available 24/7 across the country.

Nadhim Zahawi also admitted that said that most people currently had ‘about a 45-minute drive’ to one of the seven major NHS sites that opened their doors this morning, amid claims the vulnerable face ‘gruelling’ trips to get their jab because not enough GP surgeries are taking part.

Patients were pictured queuing outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, last week as they waited for Covid jabs

Patients were pictured queuing outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, last week as they waited for Covid jabs

Patients were pictured queuing outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, last week as they waited for Covid jabs

Pensioners pictured queuing outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

Pensioners pictured queuing outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

Pensioners pictured queuing outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

Mr Zahawi has said the vaccine rollout could take place 24 hours a day ‘if we need to’, but only when there are high enough supplies of jabs.

He also suggested the mainly elderly Britons needing vaccinations now are unlikely to want an appointment in the middle of the night, meaning the current opening hours will continue to be 8am to 8pm.

Pressed on whether it could be administered night and day when there is sufficient vaccine, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘If we need to go to 24-hour work we will absolutely go 24 hours a day to make sure we vaccinate as quickly as we can’. 

Fears remain that the government may be overpromising how much can realistically be delivered – or not pushing hard enough to vaccinate the entire population and release the UK from lockdown.

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said today that Boris Johnson’s ‘first priority’ must be to accelerate the scheme to ’round the clock’, adding: ‘This is now the only way out of the darkness’. Sir Keir also believes the Government’s 2million jabs per week should be doubled to 4million by the end of February.

It came as Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said the NHS is in the ‘most dangerous situation anyone can remember’ but the new vaccines mean the UK can be back to normal in ‘months not years’. 

The mass vaccinations centres – which are also open to health and care staff – offer an alternative to receiving the jab at GP surgeries and in hospitals with Moira Edwards, 88, among the first to get her jab at the Surrey hub today.

They cover all seven NHS regions in England, including the Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne. The others are the Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre in London, Ashton Gate stadium in Bristol, Epsom Racecourse in Surrey, Millennium Point in Birmingham, Robertson House in Stevenage and the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester.

Each can inoculate a patient every four minutes which means someone is given a jab around evert 45 seconds across all seven of the hubs – with each patient in and out in four minute. The hubs are coming online as Boris Johnson discusses plans for a stricter lockdown including exercise limits, compulsory masks outside, nurseries shut and no support bubbles amid fears the current lockdown isn’t curbing the spread of Covid. 

Today there are concerns that the centres are forcing the NHS to throw their net too wide, with an estimated 130,000 people living more than 45 minutes away from the sites invited to have their vaccinations in the coming weeks. Many are in the most vulnerable age categories with underlying health conditions and there are concerns the journey is too far for them.

Mr Zahawi admitted some of the most vulnerable do have to travel 45 minutes for a jab, but added that he wanted to reach the point where people could simply walk into their community pharmacy or local GP to receive a vaccine.

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