The Scottish First Minister has accused the UK Government of ‘briefing and spinning misleading figures’ about Covid vaccine supply.
In a Scottish parliamentary debate earlier this week, Nicola Sturgeon also accused the UK Government of putting pressure on her Government to unpublish information about vaccination supply.
The news comes as health secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that supply was the ‘limiting factor’ with regards to the pace at which the Covid vaccination programme can progress.
In the Holyrood debate, Conservative MP Ruth Davidson accused the Scottish Government of lagging ‘behind its own target’ on the vaccination programme, with GP practices not receiving supply.
She said: ‘As of yesterday, the Scottish Government has taken receipt of 717,000 doses of the vaccine, but more than 400,000 have yet to reach patients.’
However the Scotsman reported that it is ‘understood that some proportion of the 717,000 remains at the vaccine distribution site in England’.
Responding to Ms Davidson, Ms Sturgeon said her Government was ‘not behind’ on its target, highlighting the successful vaccination of 90% of care home residents and a target to reach 400,000 vaccinations per week – ‘supplies permitting’.
But she added: ‘I will be – perhaps brutally – blunt about supplies. Last week, we published detailed estimates of supplies for now and for well into the future. We put those estimates in a document that went on the web and was circulated.
‘I hope that I am not about to use unparliamentary language: the United Kingdom Government had what I can describe only as a hissy fit about us doing that. We agreed, in consultation with the UK Government, to take away the publication of those supply figures.’
And she claimed that ‘for reasons of commercial confidentiality, the UK Government does not want us to be open about supplies’, adding that although she does ‘not necessarily agree with the reasoning behind that’ the Scottish Government had ‘agreed to the request’.
But she added: ‘Now we have the UK Government briefing and spinning misleading figures about supply. It must be clear about which approach it wants us to take. Supplies are allocated to and drawn down by Scotland, and we vaccinate as quickly as we can.
‘That will continue to be the case as we go through the different groups in our vaccination programme.’
Meanwhile, Scottish GP leaders echoed sentiments of English colleagues in asking for Covid vaccine supplies to become available to individual GP practices.
Highland LMC secretary and BMA representative for North Scotland Dr Iain Kennedy told Pulse: ‘Patients trust their GPs and can access their practices easily. That’s why Scotland should expedite delivery of vaccines direct to GP practices so we can protect the population as quickly as possible.
‘Mass vaccination clinics might sound good to some who like centralised control, but we know patients trust their GP practices and this can only help us to maximise vaccine uptake rates.’
Pulse has contacted the UK Government for comment.