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Government’s vaccination strategy is not designed to support the NHS

·2-min read

Dr Beth Rimmer’s suggestion that the NHS employ retired doctors, nurses and pharmacists to administer Covid vaccinations appears to be the obvious solution to what is already a serious problem facing the service – ie too much to do with too few resources (Letters, 5 December). Unfortunately, such a solution does not fit with the Tory government’s long-term strategy for the health service. By ensuring GPs give Covid vaccinations priority over the day-to-day, yet essential, services that the NHS provides, the backlog will continue to increase.

On top of that, we are already hearing senior Tories complaining that GPs are not doing enough with regards to face-to-face appointments. Over time, this will all add to a growing acceptance among the public that the NHS, as it is currently configured, just cannot cope.

The Tories realised many years ago that they would not be able to privatise the NHS because the public treasure it more than any other public service. The plan, therefore, is to undermine their faith in the health service by demonstrating how it is no longer the excellent service people thought it was. I predict the government’s response to any inquiry into its handling of Covid will place all blame squarely on the shoulders of the NHS. It will then argue that the only way a post-pandemic NHS can even begin to get back to anything approaching normal will be to involve the private sector. Sadly, employing retired doctors would undermine this strategy.
Shaun Soper
Midhurst, West Sussex

• I write as a retired GP who returned to practice earlier this year to deliver vaccinations as Dr Rimmer did. Working at a large vaccination centre, it was clear that the clinical knowledge and experience required to safely deliver Covid vaccines was minimal. So although retired clinical staff can do this, leaving NHS staff free to get on with the day job, people with no clinical experience (for instance, military personnel) could easily be trained up to vaccinate people.

Of course, there would still need to be an experienced clinician on hand to deal with queries or adverse effects, and to ensure that the process is clinically led.
Dr Tim Owen
Newcastle

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