Responding to the news that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“This is the starting klaxon for people readying to deliver the vaccine. What’s ahead will be a marathon and not a sprint, with many months ahead to vaccinate everyone who needs it. This welcome news, however, does not mean that we are immediately out of the woods.
“Our already-stretched NHS faces a monumental effort now to roll-out the vaccine quickly and effectively. Our members across the NHS have already done a great deal of planning for this moment but there are still questions to be ironed out quickly and support needed to ensure the process works as well as we need it to. We need to see effective coordination at national, regional and local levels and support with logistics and the appropriate technology to ensure we are recording who has been vaccinated in the correct way.
"We also need a clearer explanation from the government that stretched services and depleted teams will need to deliver vaccinations alongside all their other responsibilities: there will be a difficult and unwanted impact on other areas of service, and politicians need to support NHS teams by being much clearer with the public about this longer term consequence, which the recent spending review did not do enough to address.
“What we cannot do now is let our guard down. The virus is still with us, is still dangerous and our health and social care sectors are under enormous pressure. It is crucial that everyone sticks to the rules and does what they can to control the stem of the virus this winter.
“We now need to see more detail, including about the priority groups to receive the vaccine and it is important to see health and social care staff among them.”