This site is intended for health professionals only

NHSE denies claim eligible patients can’t use its Covid jab booster booking service

Covid booster programme

NHS England has said that there is no ‘widespread issue’ with the national booking system for Covid vaccinations, despite eligible patients claiming they have been unable to book their booster jabs.

It comes as Sajid Javid yesterday urged people to ‘come forward’ for their Covid vaccines if they are eligible and have not had an invite six months after their second jab, and the Government launched a new campaign to promote boosters and flu vaccines.

Daisy Cooper, liberal democrat MP for St Albans, said yesterday in the House of Commons: ‘Many of my constituents are desperate to get their third jabs and their boosters. The Minister said that if their invitation has not arrived, they can book on the national booking service or 119, but that is simply not working. 

‘When they get on to the national booking service, it says they are not eligible if they have not received an invitation letter. If they call 119, it is telling them it cannot override the system.’

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup assured Ms Cooper: ‘I will definitely look into that. If there is a problem in the system, we will get it fixed.’

But NHS England told Pulse: ‘There isn’t a widespread issue with the system not recognising people who are eligible.’

The NHS website currently says: ‘If you haven’t received an invite by 6 months and 1 week, you can try to book your appointment online without an invite.’

Patients have also taken to Twitter to complain about not being able to book Covid boosters, despite receiving invitations to do so.

Dr Jess Harvey, a GP from Shropshire and PCN lead for Covid boosters, noted other issues with the Covid booster campaign.

She said: ‘Staffing the clinics is starting to be a bit of a nightmare because everyone is exhausted.

‘If the Government really wanted to speed this thing up, they’d just lift the six month rule, and we could just crack through it in a couple of weeks. It would also give us more freedom to try and plan clinics for the future.’

And she added: ‘If the Government really wanted the boosters to be rolled out quickly, they’d cancel QOF this year and let us minimise our workload so that we could divert more staff and resources to doing vaccine clinics.

‘As it is, trying to do them as an extra thing outside of normal hours, it’s starting to become very difficult to find the staff able to do that, given that everyone is already on their knees.’