Anger over Shropshire vaccination roll-out lag

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image captionLast week residents at the Lady Forester Community nursing home in Wenlock received the vaccine

A council has hit out at health bosses as figures reveal fewer people have received a Covid vaccine in Shropshire than anywhere else in England.

Fewer than half of the county's over-80s have had their first dose, with a councillor accusing NHS England of "a wall of silence".

Councillor Dean Carroll, in charge of social care at Shropshire Council, said he was "absolutely furious".

NHS England has been approached for comment.

Latest figures from the government show 14,031 over-80s in Shropshire - including Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin council areas - have had their first dose of the vaccine by 17 January, by some margin the lowest number in England.

It equates to 49% of over 80s in the county. In neighbouring Herefordshire and Worcestershire the figure is 76% - or 37,609 people.

Mr Carroll said the council had "bent over backwards" to support the vaccine roll-out and that officials had been met by "a wall of silence" from NHS England as to when vaccine sites would go live.

"We have done everything we were asked for and more," he said, adding the authority had been "assured Shropshire was on par with everywhere else" when concerns were raised.

Alongside care home residents and front-line heath and care staff, the over-80s group has been targeted as a priority by the government and a key measure of success on vaccine roll-out.

Overall numbers of those who have received their first vaccine dose in Shropshire are also the lowest in England, although it also has the lowest adult population (401,857) of any NHS area in the country.

Of the total population aged over 18, just 6.2% have received their first dose - again among the lowest in England.

Dave Evans, the chief executive of the Shropshire and Telford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said he would have liked to have seen more doses delivered, but he believed the area would hit the government's targets.

He said additional capacity was due to be introduced over the coming weeks which would lead to a "significant change" in the numbers.

The focus so far had been delivering to care homes, he said, blaming "logistical challenges" for the delays.

Analysis

By Joanne Gallacher, BBC Shropshire political reporter

The fact fewer people have been vaccinated here than in other parts of England has left decision makers demanding answers.

Why has there been a slower rollout of the vaccine in Shropshire? You get a different answer depending on who you speak to.

The Labour Leader on Telford and Wrekin Council claims it's all down to getting the vaccine, however Mr Evans claims it's because of the model they've been using.

He also revealed not all GP practices have been involved with vaccinating as many didn't want to sign up to a specific NHS England agreement to administer the drugs at their practices.

New vaccination centres will open in Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Whitchurch within the next few weeks and the Telford International Centre will begin to administer the jab from next week.

In the south of the county, former health minister and Conservative MP for Ludlow, Philip Dunne, said no over-80s in Ludlow other than those living in care homes had been vaccinated.

"All the care homes have been done, but none of the community," he told the BBC. "Half of my constituency [Bridgnorth] has done really well... and the other half [Ludlow] has only vaccinated care homes."

"I want to see vaccines spread more fairly," he said. "Frankly, it's not good enough."

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