A CCG has warned about the impact on patient safety after a GP practice’s phone lines were jammed with over 126,000 Covid vaccine enquiries in a single day.
NHS Tees Valley CCG made the revelation yesterday, urging patients ‘NOT to contact their GP practice’ to ask about vaccinations ‘as extreme volumes of calls are preventing patients with urgent healthcare needs from getting through’.
It reminded patients that ‘GP practices do not control vaccine supply or arrange appointments via the National Booking System’.
NHS Tees Valley CCG medical director Dr Janet Walker said: ‘The number of calls practices are getting from people enquiring about the vaccine is absolutely overwhelming, with one practice receiving over 126,000 calls in one day’.
The CCG is reminding the public to check for their vaccine eligibility online, with appointments updated daily depending on delivery of stock.
Dr Walker added: ‘We are asking people again please, please do not phone your practice about vaccinations – responding to these calls is blocking phone lines and stopping the most vulnerable in our communities, who need urgent medical help, from getting through.’
The CCG did not clarify what had prompted the influx of calls, however NHS England this week opened up the National Booking Service to bookings from all patients over 50.
And Dr Walker said: ‘For people who would rather be vaccinated by their local GP services, we ask that you please be a patient patient – when it is your turn to receive a vaccination, be assured you will be contacted directly.’
It is not the first time GPs have reported handling large numbers of patient queries about policy changes surrounding vaccinations during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, it has been a tumultuous week for vaccine supply, with NHS England warning of a ‘significant reduction’ from 29 March. However, it clarified that while this issue is expected in remain in place for four weeks, GP should keep bookings open.
Across Europe, a number of countries suspended the AstraZeneca type over reports about blood clots post vaccination. This led to increased reluctance closer to home too, but the European Medicines Agency later declared that it had not found a correlation.
On the contrary, its review discovered that the AstraZeneca vaccine ‘likely reduces’ the risk of clotting overall.
UK regulator the MHRA has continued to encourage uptake of the AstraZeneca jab, but yesterday warned patients to seek medical assistance if they suffer with a headache, or bruising away from the injection site, in the four days following their dose.