Portsmouth GPs feeling frustrations over vaccine supply chain

MEDICAL staff are feeling ‘frustrations’ over the supply and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines.

By Millie Salkeld
Thursday, 28th January 2021, 5:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th January 2021, 7:28 pm

More than 227,000 vaccinations have been now completed in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area with more than 85 per cent of over 80s receiving their first jab and just over 16 per cent of those aged over 80 years old getting their second dose.

Simon Cooper, director of medicines optimisation and director of primary care for the NHS Portsmouth CCG told the primary care commissioning committee today that the city is set to achieve their targets for vaccinations for the first groups but staff are having issues with the consistency of supplies.

He said: ‘Some frustrations coming out of the vaccine supply chain is that we don’t get notification of formalised delivery until quite late.

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Pharmacist draws up the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

‘When a practice for a PCN (primary care network) might be trying to stand up a vaccination clinic in the next few days to then be told that the number they were expecting doesn’t match the confirmed day, then there has to be a change in process. And where some of those staff would have been used in the vaccination programme, trying to get them back into a business as usual to handle normal everyday core work that GP practices do is incredibly difficult.

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‘We end up with the potential that we don’t have a vaccination service and then we cannot easily switch back to business as usual because stepping that up with short notice is difficult.

‘They want to get on and do both but there are times when they are finding it difficult to do either but it is getting better. The supply is increasing and Portsmouth is slowly upping its patients.’

Laly’s Pharmacy in Portsmouth has now joined the 232 vaccinations sites, including GP surgeries, hospitals and large vaccination sites, that are delivering the Covid-19 vaccine across the south east, with a second unnamed pharmacy in the city due to start in the next few weeks.

Queen Alexandra Hospital, run by Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, was the first hospital hub in the region and began giving out vaccinations last year.

When asked if the hospital had been affected by any supply issues, chief executive Mark Cubbon said: ‘We have been very lucky as we have had a really good set up. We have been doing very good numbers of vaccinations and we really proud of how the teams have stepped up.

‘Whilst we have had all these pressures, we have been able to get a group of staff who are working solely in the vaccination hub and we have had support from volunteers and other organisations that have come into help so we have a team of people supporting the vaccination programme.

‘We know we are making a big contribution to the whole NHS programme and we know that we want to get as many people vaccinated in those initial cohorts as quickly as possible because we know the benefits it will bring for those that work in health and care, those that are older, those that are vulnerable.

‘I would expect that we will continue to see us playing a role in the vaccination programme until we have as many members of the population covered that need it.’

Tomorrow marks a year since the trust received its first ever ‘Good’ rating from the CQC and the hospital has seen vast changes across its services as it has adapted to cope with the pandemic.

Staff are currently being given extra support from members of the Royal Artillery, based on Thorney Island, Emsworth, as well as staff from Care UK, Solent NHS Trust and Southern Health.

Mr Cubbon added: ‘It is great that we are able to draw on more resource while some of the more recent additions to our team, certainly from the military, are not in clinical roles but they are supporting clinical roles which we all benefit from.

‘Terrible circumstances usually drive the need to bring in support but it shows what can be done when everyone is really focussed on what matters most to us.’

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