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'Admin error' sees 100 people outside priority groups invited for Covid-jabs at London clinic
27 January 2021, 11:54 | Updated: 27 January 2021, 15:02
Around 100 people not in the top four priority groups were offered vaccine appointments at a London clinic over the weekend, LBC can reveal.
An “administrative error” by the Hammersmith and Fulham Centres for Health meant that people as young as 35 with no underlying conditions were given appointments to be vaccinated, even as many of the most vulnerable people still have not been invited.
London has the lowest levels of vaccination of the over 80s in England, at under 50%, according to the most recent figures published by the NHS last week.
And even within the capital, North West London Health and Care Partnership, which includes the Hammersmith clinic, had the lowest proportion at just 45.7% of over 80s vaccinated.
Jonathan Tassell, who lives in Hammersmith and is an ex-professional tennis player, said he was shocked when he received a text message last week telling him he had an appointment to be vaccinated:
“I was a little surprised. Myself I’m not high risk, I’m 35 years old with no prior medical conditions. I have to say at first I thought it was a bit of a scam. So I rang up the GP surgery and they did indeed confirm that I was going for an appointment.”
LBC approached the local clinical commissioning group, and only at that point was the error recognised and the appointments cancelled.
Mistakes can of course be made, but revelations like this will not inspire confidence that London is distributing its share of the vaccine efficiently.
There was outrage last week as it was reported that vaccines would be diverted from better performing areas of the country such as the North East and Yorkshire to London because of the disparity in vaccination rates of the elderly.
The story was denied by the Government, but then confirmed by an NHS medical director in a radio interview.
And on Tuesday, the NHS announced that vaccine supplies in the North West would be cut by a third in February, in part to allow other regions to catch up.
Jon Trickett, the Labour MP for Hemsworth in West Yorkshire said: "Seven million people vaccinated is fabulous, but it was wrong that the amount of vaccine supply to the North of England was cut by half to go London, and now we find out that young, fit people are being offered the vaccine in London? This cannot be right.
"There needs to be a Government minister who gets a grip of this. Of course people in London should be vaccinated but according to the priority order, and this doesn't seem to reflect that."
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has blamed London’s lack of success on supply problems, and a quirk of the distribution formula that means densely populated areas get fewer doses per head.
But any sense that London is wasting doses but for the intervention of journalists will not go down well outside the M25.
The North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups said in a statement:
“We are aware of a small number of cases where an individual has been invited for a vaccine when they are not part of one of the current priority groups. This has been identified by the practice and appointments withdrawn with apologies.”