CORONAVIRUS vaccinations must be managed entirely by the NHS and public bodies, and not allow the involvement of private firms and the use of unqualified staff, Unison said yesterday.
In its response to a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care on changes to medicine regulations, the union has raised concerns about allowing non-healthcare professionals to administer any vaccine.
Unison stated: ‘Millions of people will need to be protected from coronavirus once a vaccine is approved. It’s vital that any vaccination programme is delivered and supervised by healthcare professionals.’
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: ‘The government’s use of private companies to run test-and-trace has been a disaster. Any more mistakes on that scale will simply allow the virus to continue to spread.
‘Ministers can’t fail the nation again. They must do things differently and keep any programme within the NHS and public health bodies.
‘The public needs total confidence that any vaccine is going to be safely given, and any follow-up managed properly by the NHS.
‘At the start of the pandemic, thousands of ex-health workers offered to come back to the NHS and help in its hour of need. But some were never contacted.
‘Now is the time to ensure their expertise is put to good use in administering any vaccine. The government should be planning for this now to avoid any repeat of the test and trace shambles.
‘In the meantime, ministers should also be doing all they can to ensure there’s a high uptake of the flu jab and that it’s widely available to minimise the impact on the NHS over the next few months.’
Meanwhile, the bill for private consultants hired by the government to help combat the coronavirus pandemic has climbed to £175m, as the chair of an influential parliamentary committee revealed that MPs would investigate the multimillion pound use of management consultancies.
The government has bought consulting services from almost 90 different companies as it scrambled to fill gaps in the Civil Service’s pandemic response.
Disclosed spending on consultants has risen by £65m since the end of August, a 35% increase, according to contracts collated by the data company Tussell.
The newly disclosed spending included work on setting up and running the malfunctioning test-and-trace system, procuring medicines, buying personal protective equipment and supporting the government’s contact-tracing app.