First-wave GP COVID vaccine sites report 'shambles' as deliveries delayed

GPs delivering the first wave of COVID-19 vaccination in primary care from today have been forced to reorganise hundreds of appointments after deliveries of vaccine were delayed.

COVID-19 vaccine deliveries (Photo: Jacob King/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
COVID-19 vaccine deliveries (Photo: Jacob King/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Practices delivering the vaccine need to administer 975 doses of vaccine within 3.5 days after a batch arrives - and a new MHRA requirement for 15-minute observation of all patients given the vaccine following allergic reactions has significantly tightened time pressure, particularly at smaller sites.

A total of 100 GP-led sites are expected to receive deliveries of vaccine on Monday 14 December, with further sites to follow through the week.

Problems with delivery of supplies and doses of vaccine are the latest factor to hike up pressure on staff involved in the first wave of primary care vaccination - after some sites were forced to pull out because they could not accommodate the 15-minute observation period.

COVID-19 vaccine

GPs have reported on social media that deliveries have been pushed back at the last minute - forcing reception staff who spent hours booking in eligible patients aged over 80 for Tuesday this week to call them again to reschedule.

GPs have also reported delays with deliveries of other items to support designated sites such as IT equipment and supplies - with staff on site over the weekend only for deliveries not to arrive.

One Kent GP wrote on Twitter: 'Having spent weeks organising these COVID vaccines and getting 975 patients booked in, we have been told they won't be arriving on Mon as planned but Tues sometime. I have 80 patients booked in for Tues am.'

Another Kent GP said his site had 'hundreds of patients booked in' to start vaccinations on 18 and 19 December - but that there were now 'uncertainties' over vaccine delivery dates.

A GP in Herefordshire wrote that 'lots' of primary care networks (PCNs) were in the same situation.

Another in Merseyside wrote that his practice's vaccine delivery time had been pushed back by 24 hours at the last minute. After a day of calilng patients to book them in, he wrote: 'We'll have to ring them ALL again tomorrow.'

GP sites delivering the vaccine this week can ill afford delays or problems caused by delay or confusion over deliveries.

standard operating procedure published by NHS England says a trial run of vaccinations took eight minutes per patient - excluding post-vaccination observation.

It estimates that four vaccinators can get through 100 patients in 200 minutes at 8 minutes per jab - fast enough to vaccinate 975 patients in three 12-hour days. But if time per jab rises to 10 minutes, four vaccinators can only just get through enough patients in 3.5 12-hour days - leaving no room for error if patients fail to turn up or if any delays occur.

NHS director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani called the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination 'the greatest vaccination programme ever undertaken by the NHS'.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: 'GPs and our teams are about to embark on an enormous challenge, delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the community while also delivering the expanded flu vaccine programme and the usual care and services our patients rely on us for.

'There are also logistical challenges but general practice has an excellent track record of delivering mass vaccination programmes, and we want to use this experience to help protect people from COVID-19 and start getting life back to normal again.'

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