Covid booster: Dr Farah Jameel suggests dropping waiting time
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Dr Farah Jameel of the British Medical Association joined BBC journalist Emily Maitlis on Newsnight where she discussed the long queues outside vaccination centres as millions scramble to get their boosters. Dr Jameel explained there was a “significant backlog” of ordinary and coronavirus appointments as she suggested a few ways to “increase capacity” to ensure all over-18s could get their jabs. One of which involved temporarily cutting a 15-minute observation post-jab which she says could “triple” capacity overnight which is reportedly being considered by Sajid Javid.
Speaking on Newsnight, Dr Jameel discussed the scenes outside vaccination centres where people were standing in long queues, often for hours at a time.
Government portals have also crashed making it difficult to book appointments or order home-testing kits.
Dr Jameel said the Government needed to do more to ease the burden on GPs who were being split between different jobs.
Ms Maitlis asked: “I’m going to ask if you don’t mind spelling that out because you’re saying to people, we will be there for you.
“But in factual terms, are you having to cancel surgeries for patients? Are you having to turn people away because they can’t have the operations that might have been booked in for weeks or months because the booster has to take precedence?”
Dr Jameel responded: “There are no easy decisions to make and certainly for general practice everything at the moment that’s coming in through our phone lines, through our doors is urgent. Because there’s just such a significant backlog.
“So we are continuing to have conversations with the Government about how they can support us in trying to create additional capacity.
“To both continue looking after our patients, because that’s really important we can’t drop that, it’s really really important.
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“But also create additional further capacity to vaccinate.
“I will see here, that one of the key things that will help is to be able to get the vaccines out directly into practices, delivered directly to practices.
“But also the 15-minute waiting time, I think if that was to be dropped temporarily then we would suddenly find overnight we’d be able to double or triple [output]”
As part of the vaccination process, some people are asked to wait for 15 minutes before they are allowed to go to make sure there are no serious reactions to the vaccine.
The NHS portal says it is “very rare” to happen but if it does it usually happens “within minutes”.
The UK Government has only given several weeks for those double-jabbed to receive their third booster shot as ministers want everyone to come forward before December 31.
But the lofty target means the UK will need to administer roughly a million jabs a day to meet the goal.
The highest daily vaccination rate was reached in March with 600,000 jabbed in one day.
But problems have already arisen for the Government after booking portals have crashed and vaccination centres are rammed with people.
Sky News reports one large queue at St Thomas’ Hospital in London went through several streets with some at the front claiming they have been waiting for nearly two hours.
Confusion has also been sown as certain age groups have not been allowed to book their appointments yet.
On Monday, those aged 30-39 were allowed to book their vaccinations with those aged 18-29 allowed to book on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Defence has deployed around 750 personnel to help with the booster programme to ease the burden on GPs.
ITV’s health expert, Dr Hilary Jones, told Good Morning Britain that the most important thing in the booster programme was getting enough volunteers.
He added GPs and other doctors were far too qualified to administer vaccinations and their time would be better placed elsewhere.
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