Hancock visit to GP practice to hail Oxford vaccine rollout hit by delivery delay

A visit by health secretary Matt Hancock to a London GP surgery to mark the start of primary care rollout of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine fell flat when its vaccine delivery failed to arrive.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AFP/Getty Images)
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of GP practices across England were due to begin receiving doses of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine on 7 and 8 January following rollout at hospital sites earlier this week.

Mr Hancock is reported to have visited the Bloomsbury Surgery, in central London, to mark the start of primary care sites delivering the vaccine - the second to be approved for use in the UK after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

However, ITV and Sky News reported that the GP practice - which had been expecting to receive 400 doses of the Oxford vaccine - had its delivery pushed back by a day.

COVID-19 vaccine

The delay meant Mr Hancock 'had to watch the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being administered instead', ITV reported.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth compared the situation to a scene from political satire The Thick of It - adding that unfortunately delays to vaccine delivery were 'no laughing matter'.

ITV reported that Bloomsbury Surgery partner Dr Ammara Hughes said the lack of certainty over timings of deliveries was frustrating. She said: 'It’s just more frustrating than a concern because we’ve got the capacity to vaccinate. And if we had a regular supply – we do have the capacity to vaccinate three to four thousand patients a week.'

Vaccination target

The delayed delivery came after an RCGP poll on 6 January found that two thirds of GPs did not believe the government would meet its target to deliver 2m vaccines a week.

The government has said it hopes to deliver 13.9m doses of vaccine UK-wide by mid-February, and GPs in England have been told to complete vaccination of around quarter of a million patients in care homes by the end of January.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall highlighted concerns over delays to vaccine deliveries and changes at short notice that have caused chaos for practices involved in delivering the vaccine.

Professor Marshall told a college webinar this week: 'We are hearing about practices who have volunteered [to deliver jabs] who have been told that supplies are arriving whenever, two days' time, and sometimes at short notice they have been told that their supplies are no longer available and they’ve had to cancel their patients or postpone their patients for another time.'

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