Health chief admits vaccine supply issues as peninsula lags behind but programme is being ramped up

  Posted: 21.01.21 at 16:21 by Jason Noble (Local Democracy Reporter)

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Suffolk health leaders have said capacity is now in place to ramp up vaccinations across the county, but recognised there were still some issues on supply.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive of the Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk and North Essex clinical commissioning groups addressed the county’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday morning where he said the county has increased capacity with 19 primary care network sites delivering the jabs.

However, Dr Garratt recognised that league tables of jabs delivered indicated that the East of England and London were among the lowest in the country.

This includes the peninsula as neither the Shotley or Holbrook surgeries are supplying vaccines and residents will need to travel to Trinity Park or the Constable County practice at east Bergholt for their shot in the arm.

“This is an enormous programme of work that has been launched up and down the country at a time when all services are under huge pressure with the pandemic,” said Dr Garratt

“It’s really been fantastic to see all partners come together to support this.

“We have got 19 primary care sites live where the majority of the vaccinations are taking place, and primary care networks are combinations of practices that have come together to work together collaboratively.

“We have significant capacity in place, the issue that has been very evident is that until last week we had much smaller numbers of primary care sites. We have now quadrupled the number up to 19, so we have got a really good capacity going forward.”

He added: “Certainly we don’t want to be at the bottom of the league table, we want to be near the top, and I think now we have got significant capacity in place we can really start to accelerate through the programme of work.”

An announcement on when a large vaccination centre in Ipswich and when a national pharmacy site in Suffolk may be ready are expected soon.

Dr Garratt recognised there had been supply chain issues, and some over 70s had started to get their jabs before all the over 80s – who are the higher priority cohort – had had theirs.

“We are currently on a push model where vaccines are pushed out to sites, and sometimes that can be erratic while sometimes it can be perfect,” he said.

“What we want to do is move to a pull-based model where we can pull down exactly what we need, which is more of the model we have got at the hospital sites.”

On the over 70s, he added: “That generally happens where we haven’t been able to fill a list fully of over 80s and therefore we have gone down to the next cohort – the key thing is we don’t waste any vaccines, so those decisions are made in line with national guidance.”

According to the CCGs, methods of contacting patients will also include people being phoned, as well as the existing text messages and online booking.

Frontline health workers and volunteers delivering the jabs were praised for their efforts, with Norfolk and Waveney CCG chief nurse Cath Byford saying the rollout has “taken over people’s lives – it’s something that our frontline workforce are so motivated and enthusiastic at delivering”.

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