Vaccination centre programme in Essex 'not working' says critic

A Covid-19 vaccination card after a patient had a dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at th

A Covid-19 vaccination card after a patient had a dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine - Credit: PA

The vaccination programme “simply is not working” in parts of Essex - with reports of people having to travel much further than they should be for their jabs.

Community leaders were told of a 90-year-old woman being offered a jab 20 miles away  – despite a pledge that no-one would have to travel more than 10 miles.

Councillor Graham Butland, leader of Braintree District Council and member of Essex County Council (ECC), told its health scrutiny committee: “It is quite clear the Primary Care Networks (PCN) are organising themselves to suit the conveniences of the practices and not the conveniences of the patients.”

Nigel Leonard, who is overseeing the roll out in Essex said four further large vaccine sites are set to open next week. These are in addition to The Lodge in Wickford and Harlow Leisurezone, which are already offering the vaccine.

It is also believed that a mass vaccination centre at Colchester United’s community stadium is being planned for an opening on February 1.


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But Cllr Butland said more needs to be done to improve the rollout in his patch.

He said: “You say the PCN’s are now off the mark and it is now working. That may be more in the letter than in the spirit of what was done.

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“There is a PCN in this district which is offering for people to go to Danbury to receive the vaccination.

“I thought there was a national guarantee that no member of the public would have to travel more than 10 miles.

“Danbury is much more than 10 miles  – it is closer to 16 miles for people in Great Notley to go there."

Mr Butland continued: “I had a lady of 90 contact me who lives in Great Notley and was offered following a phone call to 119 – where she was asked to press option 3  – which is very good if you live in Wales , but 119 option one is what was needed for England –  and she was offered a vaccination in Runwell.

“This simply is not working and I really am getting exasperated.

“We are still in this position where it is not working.

“I thought PCNs were meant to be the local approach. And it is quite clear they are organising themselves to suit the conveniences of the practices and not the conveniences of the patients.”

Mr Leonard said: “This is unfortunately a slight issue in terms of coverage and the speed of which  we are trying to set up as much coverage within the system as possible.

“Obviously as you will be aware we are desperately trying to find a suitable location within the Braintree area for a mass vaccination site.

“This is part of the phasing issue with the speed of trying to set everything up.

“I suspect some of the examples you have given relate to the national booking system.

“The national booking system is being developed to provide a wide range of choice within a 45 minute drive.

“Once all our vaccination centres are in place and we are working incredibly hard to bring them all on line – that will provide greater coverage across Essex.”

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