Covid: London patients queue for vaccine in near-freezing temperatures

9 January 2021, 13:26 | Updated: 10 January 2021, 07:08

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Patients were left "extremely upset" after queuing in near-freezing temperatures outside a south-east London vaccination centre on Friday.

Dozens of elderly people were left queuing outside The Jenner Practice on Stanstead Road in Forest Hill on Friday while waiting to receive their coronavirus vaccines.

Footage posted on social media showed a long line of patients filing up outside and far down the road running adjacent to the centre.

Paul Demetrious, whose sister Maria recorded the video, told LBC that his parents were left in distress following the experience, which he described as a "circus".

"We shared this not as a witch hunt - although our mother was extremely upset - but for answers so that lessons can be learned to improve," he said.

The huge queue proved too stressful for Mr Demetrious' parents, who both left without being given their inoculations.

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Mr Demetrious wrote on Twitter: "My Parents have been isolating since Feb20. On arrival for Dads #COVID19 #vaccine time slot met this Circus!

"They left without it! Answers?!"

NHS Lewisham CCG apologised to Mr Demetrious on social media and said it has put in place measures to reduce queues at its vaccination centres.

"We’re sorry your parents faced this situation," a tweet read.

"This was the first vaccination day for the service, lessons have been learned.

"Vaccinators doubled to reduce waiting time; patients asked to arrive 5 minutes before appt. These will ease queues and hopefully reassure your parents."

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However, one user replied to NHS Lewisham, saying the queues were still in place until the early evening on Friday, with cars lining the road and causing local disruption.

"There were still people queued in the dark at 5:30 when I walked past coming home," one user wrote on Twitter.

"Cars were being parked anywhere they could find space, over drives, dangerously on corner and even on people’s drives at one point."

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) thanked Mr Demetrious for raising the issue and said that it has launched a review.

It said: "Thanks for bringing this to our attention. The matter has been raised to the appropriate Inspector for review."

The chaotic scene occurred on the same day that London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a "major incident" in the capital due to a rapid rise in coronavirus cases.

NHS Lewisham later issued the following statement: "This was early on the first day of our new programme and we have now already increased the number of staff giving vaccinations along with asking patients to arrive no more than five minutes before their slot.

"We will be contacting the small number of patients who had an appointment yesterday and weren’t vaccinated to ensure they are seen this week.

"Modality Lewisham Primary Care Network, who are running the vaccination centre at Jenner Practice, responded quickly on what was their first day of vaccinating by doubling the numbers of staff delivering the vaccine.

"This reduced the queue and later in the day patients were turning up and going straight inside. The team were also requesting that people in the queue follow social distancing and infection control measures.

"A number of patients arrived 30-60 minutes early for their appointments, so - going forward - we are asking patients to arrive no more than 5 minutes before their slot."

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