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Time for GPs to step down from the oche

Time for GPs to step down from the oche

What we need to deliver the Covid vaccination programme is some lateral-flow-thinking. Let’s face it, the actual process of immunising is mind-numbingly simple, and if any of my needlessly diverted clinical staff claim otherwise, I’d say: Quit your jibber, jabber.

So who could we call on? Well, there’s actually a vast cohort of currently unengaged people out there just perfect for the job. I am, of course, referring to the nation’s darts players. They are unerringly accurate at jabbing the triple 20, so hitting the deltoid should be a breeze – and they can do it at a socially distanced 2.37 metres, as prescribed by both Government and the World Darts Federation. Plus, being excellent at maths, they can do the drawing up, too – ooooooone hundred and eighty mls, divided by a hundred, split between five darts. And… checkout.

I am, of course, entirely serious about this. The two limiting factors in the Jab for Victory campaign are a) vaccine supply and b) availability of personnel. The former I’d leave to the Government, because when have they ever let us down? The latter, though, is, apparently, up to us. And magicking up man/woman/nurse/admin-power is becoming increasingly difficult as everyone is currently afflicted, self isolated, or redeployed by Covid.

Hence our surgery being like the Marie Celeste at the moment. So running even the ‘priority core’ of general practice is nigh on impossible, even if someone could agree what it is. But the idea of staffing the vaccination centres too is a coronally-sick joke. It’s always difficult being in two places at once but frankly, now, it’s the exception to be in one place at once.

So if the Government really does want us to achieve those ambitious vaccination targets, it could do a lot worse than wheel out those who know how to really hit the bullseye. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, your nation needs you. Just as soon as you’ve done your online training.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrick Pearson 6 January, 2021 11:11 pm

What is the problem with giving this vaccine? As a part-time GP partner with time to spare, I have offered to help. I have been met with a tsunami of obstacles which take hours to complete. I do not need to know the mechanism of how the vaccine works to be able to draw up a syringe full of vaccine before sticking it in someone’s arm. I have been doing it for years so why do I need a bit of virtual paper to do it now? FFS Matt Hancock, extract your digit and let us get on with it. Happy New Year!

David OHagan 7 January, 2021 5:39 pm

just going back to a) vaccine supply
why is it that we can only get 2million doses per week? for 60million people?
In the event that 22bn were spent on manufacturing capacity how many doses a week would be available? Then we might need help with delivery.

At 2/60*100% of your practice population is 66 patients out of 2000, or 16 hours work if they take 15minutes each, 3hours each day. That is ‘funded’ work so 1 session of a vaccinator each day? That is why we haven’t needed to draft in ‘volunteers’ so far.

This is a marathon, it is going to take a year to get everyone who wants it vaccinated.
Managing the expectations of staff, and patients and the population is more likely to develop confidence. The ‘positivity’ at all costs is great for morale today, but damage the longer term effort, the stamina, required.

Take care of each other

Patrufini Duffy 8 January, 2021 8:00 pm

I agree. Darts players, sewers, archers, drug addicts, bakers, gardeners, butchers. I have no ego, just let them jab it. Pay them 10/hr. They’re keen. I’m not kidding here. If this was WWII they’d be there. And it’s gonna get close. Let me be clear. This task does not, categorically not, need a GP – GP time must be spent triaging, protecting A+E, diagnosising and get tests done quick, monitoring distant scared patients and caring for tricky cerebral issues. Not filling in a Pfizer card, and logging in your postcode. All this task needs, is logistics, planners, admin and management to actually man-up.

Mark Heneghan 9 January, 2021 1:06 pm

If by chance 81 nuns die from a vaccination reaction, someone can shout ‘One nun dead, and eighty!’