Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies and Prestatyn GP Dr Nitin Shori are both concerned by the slow rate of vaccine administration in North Wales compared to other parts of the UK and are closely scrutinising the programme roll out to ensure local people are not left behind.
James, who is also a GP, has been inundated with messages from constituents who are concerned that despite being within a top priority group for the Covid vaccine, they have not yet received an appointment.
Similarly, Dr Shori has been approached by patients of his surgery who are keen to know when they will be vaccinated.
This week, James, along with other North Wales Conservative MPs and MSs, held a virtual meeting with the new Chief Executive of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, during which they raised the concerns of their constituents.
“I’ve been inundated with messages from understandably anxious elderly constituents and relatives of care home residents who have seen those in their position being vaccinated in nearby Cheshire, Wirral and Shropshire, but are yet to receive an invitation for vaccination themselves. As of the week ending 3rd January, BCUHB had vaccinated 0.81% of the population of North Wales. This amounts to under half of the average achievement in England of 1.97%. Although this week the Health Board has successfully vaccinated much greater numbers of staff, it remains at the bottom of the pile, per head of the population vaccinated, in Wales alone.
“Obviously this is very concerning and I, along with Dr Shori and others, are extremely keen to work with the health board to ensure the planning, organisation and delivery of the programme is brought up to scratch. There is also much thought that needs to go into the correct targeting of vulnerable groups in the coming days and weeks.
“My focus is on ensuring that my constituents receive vaccination as quickly and efficiently as possible and I, along with my fellow North Wales Conservative MPs and MSs, have written to the Chief Executive of the health board to pose questions, seek assurances and let her know that we are more than happy to assist the health board in any way that may be useful. Like many others, I have also volunteered to help out as a vaccinator should this be helpful.
“I appreciate the complexity of the vaccine roll out, that teething difficulties are inevitable, and that North Wales is not alone in facing difficulties, but we really must get to grips with the operation ahead of us and ensure that the people of North Wales are quickly protected from this awful virus.”
Dr Shori said:
“The Prime Minister has rightly provided an ambitious timescale for the country and this has set patient expectations. We can’t possibly meet these expectations based on the current planned North Wales roll out. Thus will lead to anger and frustration in our area and would leave us far behind the rest of the UK.
“I made an offer to the health board that we would work 24/7 and would vaccinate my whole practice of 9,000 patients in two weeks if they could facilitate this.
“We have an older population. We know that some patients have been locked in their homes for months and that many more have suffered mental health problems due to lockdowns. If we can’t quickly vaccinate people it will be impossible for lockdown in North Wales to end before the summer. Like James, I am prepared to work with the health board in any way I can to improve the speed of the vaccine rollout in North Wales.”