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Alarm at number of London Ambulance medics still to get Covid vaccine

Ross Lydall
·3-min read
<p>Just over half of the 3,800 frontline staff at London Ambulance Service (LAS) have been vaccinated but 20 per cent have yet to book a jab and more than 50 have refused.</p> (REUTERS)

Just over half of the 3,800 frontline staff at London Ambulance Service (LAS) have been vaccinated but 20 per cent have yet to book a jab and more than 50 have refused.

(REUTERS)

Concerns have been raised about the “worrying” number of London ambulance medics who have yet to receive a Covid jab, the Standard can reveal.

Just over half of the 3,800 frontline staff at London Ambulance Service (LAS) have been vaccinated but 20 per cent have yet to book a jab and more than 50 have refused.

BAME heritage staff, who make up a sixth of the LAS workforce, are the most reluctant to receive the vaccine, the LAS board was told yesterday. A campaign targeting black and Asian medics is being launched on Friday and details are being logged about how many staff are refusing to be vaccinated.

It is understood that some staff have refused because they are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Others say they have allergies. Across London, a further 35,126 first doses have been administered, taking the total to 647,171, according to the latest daily update.

The UK has administered far more jabs than other European nations but London has issued fewer doses than any other English region.

The number of second doses has almost ground to a halt, with only 610 being given in London in the most recent 24-hour period.

LAS chief executive Garrett Emmerson said 80 per cent of frontline staff had booked a jab, and 56 per cent had received a first dose. He said: “We continue to work to offer every member of frontline... staff a vaccination.”

With dozens having refused and about 1,600 still to be jabbed, senior figures at LAS are concerned about how to protect paramedics and emergency technicians from contracting the virus.

Covid vaccinations have been available in the UK since December 8, with NHS frontline staff given priority status.

Earlier this month the service had about 400 staff off sick with Covid and almost 600 more isolating.

Dr Mark Spencer, a GP and LAS board member, said: “We have still got 20 per cent of staff who are not consenting for vaccination. That is very worrying.”

Paramedics have been issued with tighter-fitting face masks amid concerns at the time some are having to spend with patients in the back of ambulances because A&Es are too busy to allow them to be offloaded.

Ambulances were stuck outside A&Es unable to unload patients for a total of 700 hours a day, meaning the average emergency call took two hours 20 minutes to conclude – 40 minutes longer than normal.

Mr Emmerson said the scale of demand on crews, which peaked on January 4 with about 8,500 emergency calls, had been “quite a scary time for people”.

Pressure on LAS has reduced to “normal winter levels” due to falling infection rates in London. This has allowed its call centres to answer calls from other parts of the country where cases are increasing.

LAS says it will also send its crews to emergencies in the northern and southern Home Counties under “mutual aid” arrangements to help ease covid demands on neighbouring 999 services.

LAS said in a statement: “The vaccination programme for all our staff and volunteers is progressing very well.

“Of the frontline staff eligible to have a vaccine, 80 per cent have already registered to have it and nearly three-quarters of those have already gone on to have it. We expect these numbers to continue to rise.

“A very small number of frontline staff have not taken up the offer but this is not 20 per cent of staff.”

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