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It’s beginning to look a lot like Covid

It’s beginning to look a lot like Covid

I’ve not seen the detail of the Covid vaccine DES yet, but there’s enough devil in the précis for me to be feeling queasy already.

I’ll not bore you with the 101 logistical headaches this DES will cause us, because you’ll have thought of them already. But I would highlight that it looks like we could be Covid-jabbing through the bank holidays. As they kick off with 25 December, maybe we should get that fat bloke who achieves global coverage every Christmas to help out – and maybe his mate Frosty the Snowman could solve the refrigeration issue, too.

All of which suggests that heading up a Covid vaccine campaign is not on my Christmas list this year. Correct. What is there, right between a Scalextric and a year’s supply of fluoxetine, is some clarity of message from the GPC.

After all, on 29 November, we had a GPC letter to NHSE which I’d paraphrase as follows: ‘More GP appointments provided…fewer GPs…media criticism…no support for GPs…profession exhausted…’ And about a week later we had the GPC announcing that GPs would be taking on the most intense and fraught vaccination campaign in history. The message here isn’t so much mixed as sliced, diced and put in a blender.

And it leaves us in a lose-lose. Take on the DES and we risk implosion. Decline the DES and we risk another media slating.

The glib response is, of course, that we’re ‘ideally placed’ to provide the programme. Yes, and we’re ideally placed to do everything else, aren’t we, from screening for domestic violence to checking domestic boilers. And if we continue to absorb everything else we’re ideally placed for, then either we really are underemployed or we really are going to fall over. I know which I believe, but I’m not sure the GPC does. It’s even glibber response, I’m guessing, might be that, if you want something done, you ask a busy person. Yes, but not a burnt-out one.

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

Jonathan Heatley 9 November, 2020 10:50 am

if we can organise a drive through system where the patients don’t leave their car (like the testing station setups), then it is just about doable. However if the patients have to wait 15 minutes while also socially isolating then its completely impossible. In our surgery the waiting room will hold about 10 patients which means an hourly throughput of around 30. We have at least 4,000 in the at risk elderly cohort so this would need around 130 hours of devoted surgery time. If the vaccine needs two doses thats 260 hours or a minimum of 60 half days. This is in addition to our already very busy workload. This is going to be very interesting!

Reply moderated
Paul Hartley 9 November, 2020 1:14 pm

Brilliant as usual!

Paul Attwood 9 November, 2020 1:16 pm

This is a serious no brainer when it comes to providing the service. Vaccine needs to be kept at -70C and it comes in a multidose bottle of 1000 doses with a five day expiry. That effectively rules out most practices. Don’t get me started on the payment schedule. Pay goobers get numpties.

This national vaccination needs a national response, centrally co-ordinated. No doubt they will want it staffed but I am fresh out of fecks to give nowadays so will pass. Again freshly minted dough boys and girls, straight from their video on how to give a jab, certificate in hand can (wo)man these centres.

Think I might prefer taking a risk with Covid. (TFIC)

Reply moderated
David Turner 9 November, 2020 1:59 pm

Rather obvious point here, but why don’t the government use their own drive through testing centres to administer the vaccine ? They can employ locum nurses and GPs to administer?

Patrick Flynn 9 November, 2020 2:24 pm

HMG might consider ‘sending in the army’. Unfortunately (as someone has observed elsewhere), ‘the cavalry ain’t coming as the horses have voluntarily gone to the knackers yard.’
Looks like there is going to be a surplus of vaccine?

Reply moderated
Patrufini Duffy 10 November, 2020 1:52 pm

The vaccine counselling is going to obliterate clinician time. And the misinformation. GP scapegoating has started for 2021. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yes, and I’m glad and off-put that the UK population’s fluoxetine, sertraline and citalopram stocks have not waned and kept the privileged all ‘well’ and copiously anxious.

Stuart Hazle 13 November, 2020 9:16 am

Let’s wait until we have a vaccine which has fully passed all testing and safety evaluations.
Reminder to all: the Gov changed regulations to allow fast-tracking of vaccine whilst at the same time removing any responsibility for adverse reactions and compensation.
Why do you think they did that?

Qasim Bhatti 18 November, 2020 9:06 am

we are scapegoated anyway and keep getting a media slating – whats a little more?
dont forget – the tube drivers went on strike, got a slating, but got better terms.

we are the only ones afraid of doing this.

when are we gonna grow a pair?