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Swine flu delays ‘tragic’, MPs told

By Christian Duffin

Delays in the Government’s distribution of swine flu vaccine early on in the campaign had a ‘tragic’ effect on uptake, a GP and Labour MP has warned.

Dr Howard Stoate, co-chair of an all-party group that grilled leading GPs and healthcare agencies about the NHS’s performance during the pandemic, attacked the drip feed of vaccine arriving at practices during the height of public concern.

Dr Stoate, Labour MP for Dartford and a GP in Bexleyheath, Kent, said now GPs had supplies, it was too late: ‘At one time at my practice we had hundreds, perhaps thousands of phone calls with people saying: ‘Can we have the vaccine?’

‘But we were getting a batch of 500 at random and then nothing for a week or two. When the public wanted the vaccine we didn’t have it available. But now it is available, people don’t want it. That’s a tragic situation.’

Dr Dean Marshall, a GPC negotiator on swine flu, said the Government wasted six weeks by failing to reach agreement with the GPs on ‘workload implications’.

Pulse revealed at the start of January that GPs face losses of thousands of pounds by not hitting the target of vaccinating 50.7% of clinically at-risk patients aged 5-65.

Swine flu vaccination