‘Bureaucrats’ stopping NHS from vaccinating UK in five days, scientist claims

Sir John Bell said the roll-out could be complete in five days (Image: PA)

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Everyone in the UK could be vaccinated within five days if the NHS got on "war footing", a leading immunologist has claimed.

Sir John Bell, regius chair of medicine at the University of Oxford, has said bureaucrats in the NHS are getting in the way of the vaccine being rolled out at high speed.

He has argued that if the health service was "really motivated" it could vaccinate everyone in five days.

Sir John said lengthy forms retired medics need to complete to volunteer as part of the inoculation programme were evidence of pointless bureaucracy and "bonkers".

Some NHS professionals had been asked to complete 18 training modules which include preventing radicalisation and fire safety before they can give jabs.

Sir John suggest the roll-out could be sped up with less bureaucracy in the way
(Image: Getty Images)

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“I think the frontline medics certainly see it as an emergency – those guys are working harder than anyone I’ve ever seen," Sir John told The Times.

"They are eyewateringly good, but you don’t get the [same] sense from the hierarchy in the NHS, the bureaucrats.”

The immunologist said the government should be reacting to Covid-19 as if to an enemy invading the country.

He highlighted Israel, where more than 1.6million people have had the jab out of a population of 8.6million.

"The Israelis are good at getting on a war footing – everyone is waiting for the 2am call anyway," Sir John said.

He argued that vaccinating the public was a national security issue and that the pandemic was causing an economic impact as "bad as any war".

Around 1.3million people in the UK had had the first dose of the jab by January 3
(Image: PA)

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Dr Richard Vautrey, GP committee chair of the British Medical Association, echoed Sir John's concerns about bureaucracy.

"The NHS has for too long been plagued by bureaucracy, and we need a drastic slashing of red tape to ensure that everyone who can safely administer vaccines, and is willing to help with the effort, is allowed to do so," he told The Guardian.

“The vaccination programme is the most powerful weapon we have in our armoury in the war against the pandemic, and NHS staff stand ready to deploy it. Give us the vaccines and flexibility and we will do it.”

A total of 1,296,432 people in the UK received the first dose of the vaccine as of January 3, with 21,313 having had the second jab.

The Covid immunisation programme began on December 8.

A spokesperson for NHS England said that there are not currently enough vaccines for the NHS to deploy to all people within five days.

"It’s best to stick to the facts, and they are that vaccine supply will be progressively increasing over the coming weeks, allowing rapidly expanding vaccinations," they said.

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