Sajid Javid writes thank-you letter to 'outstanding' primary care staff

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has written a thank-you letter to primary care teams, praising staff for 'working tirelessly to vaccinate our most vulnerable' while maintaining essential services.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid (Photo: Rick Findler/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The letter comes after NHS England wrote to practices on 3 December detailing measures to free up time in general practice to help staff focus on an accelerated booster jab campaign launched in the face of rising concern over the Omicron variant.

Mr Javid said he was grateful for the 'tremendous efforts primary care has made over the past year' - offering his personal thanks to primary care staff for 'stepping up' to protect the nation from the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under plans unveiled earlier this week, COVID-19 booster jabs will be offered to all UK adults by the end of January in a bid to boost protection, with the gap between second doses and boosters slashed from six to three months.

GP workload

GP leaders have highlighted concern over the workload implications of the accelerated rollout for primary care teams struggling with unprecedented workload.

Measures unveiled to boost primary care capacity include suspension of CQC checks, part suspension of the QOF and some enhanced services, with some other targets also reduced or dropped for the rest of the 2021/22 financial year.

The praise for primary care from Mr Javid and recognition that the profession has maintained essential services while delivering the vast majority of more than 115m doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered UK-wide, comes after high-profile criticism of GPs in recent months.

As recently as September, GPs condemned Mr Javid for telling MPs that it was 'high time' GPs offered face-to-face appointments to anyone who wants one - and for claiming that life in the UK was now 'almost back to completely normal'.

GP leaders suggested at the time that the comments showed the health and social care secretary was out of touch with reality - and warned his comments risked fuelling growing abuse faced by the profession throughout the pandemic.

Read the 3 December letter from Sajid Javid to primary care in full:

Dear primary care teams,

I am writing to you to give my sincere thanks for all the work you have done, and continue to do, on the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Primary care teams are at the heart of our nation’s pandemic response, and I am grateful for the tremendous efforts primary care has made over the past year to deliver a world-leading vaccination programme under the strains and pressures of a global pandemic.

I want to personally thank all the staff in primary care for the way you have stepped up to this enormous challenge to protect our nation. You have worked tirelessly to vaccinate our most vulnerable, including those in care homes, whilst maintaining essential services for patients that need your care.

Delivering the vital protection our country needs through an expanded vaccination programme, including over the Christmas period, undoubtedly presents a significant challenge, but one I am confident the NHS will meet. In recognition of the role primary care teams will play in this, the NHS has set out a series of measures to support local vaccination services including additional financial support.

Your continued care for your patients is outstanding and I want to thank you again for your ongoing support in delivering this expanded vaccination programme, which will allow us to move out of this pandemic. It is the best way to protect people and save tens of thousands of lives.

Yours sincerely,

Sajid Javid.

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