Hospital merger ensured Suffolk was not ‘bottom of the list’ for Covid-19 vaccine, says MP
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk could have been “bottom of the list” for the coronavirus vaccine – had it not been for the merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, MP Dr Dan Poulter has said.
The MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich made the claims after it was revealed that doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine could not be stored at Ipswich Hospital.
The jabs need to be stored in specialist freezers at -70C, meaning none of Suffolk’s hospitals have the facilities to keep the vaccines safely.
Fortunately, Colchester Hospital has the capability to house the shots – meaning that Suffolk patients will have earlier access to the jab, according to Dr Poulter.
He said: “If it wasn’t for the fact that Ipswich and Colchester had been merged, then Suffolk would be at the bottom of the queue for vaccines.
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“It has meant the vaccine has been brought on stream to the county’s patients in a faster way. The fact that we have a combined trust is actually benefiting patients in that respect.
“Of course, it is frustrating that some patients will have to travel to have the vaccine at Colchester, but I think we have to keep it in perspective.
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“If it wasn’t for the merged trust, we would be in the position where Suffolk’s patients wouldn’t be getting a vaccine as quickly as they will be.”
The first Covid-19 vaccine was given to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan in Coventry.
It is hoped that the roll-out
will continue throughout the week.
The government ordered a total of 40million Pfizer/BioNTech doses, enough for 20m people to be fully vaccinated.
It is understood that a further 100m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which was described as having a “good safety record” in a scientific paper released this week, have also been ordered.
Dr Poulter said he believes the government’s vaccine preparation needs to be commended.
“I’m confident Colchester will be the vaccine hub for Essex and some of Suffolk, but there will be deliveries going out to GP surgeries and care homes so that people can be vaccinated quickly before the vaccine denatures,” he said.
“Overall, this part of the Covid response from the government has been a success story and let’s hope it stays that way over the coming weeks during the roll-out.”