Home Vaccines More than 300,000 housebound people yet to get Covid booster vaccines

More than 300,000 housebound people yet to get Covid booster vaccines

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Prof Azeem Majeed, a GP in west London and the head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, said his practice had opted out of delivering boosters but stressed that the Government had been given “plenty of time” to come up with an effective new strategy.

“There is certainly too much variation in the delivery of jabs to the housebound, and that is a significant problem because many of these people are extremely vulnerable to Covid,” he said.

“But many GPs opted out months ago. Plenty of people, including myself, have been warning since the summer that we needed to come up with a new integrated system to deliver jabs to people in their homes. Clearly, there has been a failure to do that.”

Deborah Hughes, 61, from Rochester in Kent, has been trying to secure a booster vaccine for her 90-year-old mother, Mel, since the end of October.

“At the end of October, Mum became eligible for her booster jab,” she said. “Due to her housebound status, I had to ignore the text links to book a slot and contacted the surgery for guidance. I was told it was nothing to do with them and to ring the community nurses, who also told me that they hadn’t been commissioned for the programme.

“That left me with no option other than to contact Mum’s MP, who has taken up her case. Recently, it was said the time to gain immunity by Christmas was running out. If this is the case, how many elderly and vulnerable will be infected as a result of medical commissioners’ disregard and incompetence? Serious questions need to be asked regarding this failure.”

Earlier this year, a Freedom of Information request showed that a fifth of primary care networks – groups of GP surgeries – who took part in the first phase of the vaccine programme had pulled out of the second.

In a letter to The Telegraph, Dr Gary Howsam, vice chair of the Royal College of GPs, argued that “throwing money” at GPs was “no panacea” to increasing productivity and wrote: “General practice is the bedrock of the NHS and needs to be adequately supported to manage the ever-growing demand for care and to ensure that patients are safe.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Local NHS and GP teams are contacting their eligible housebound patients, and we are working closely with St John’s Ambulance to give local areas additional support. We are also providing additional funding to help local teams secure additional staff so that all eligible housebound patients are offered a booster as quickly as possible.”

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