Concerns raised over Covid-19 vaccination roll-out to Norfolk care homes

The Covid-19 vaccination at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Roving teams are giving vaccinations to residents of Norfolk care homes. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Roving teams are getting coronavirus vaccinations to residents of care homes in Norfolk, but council leaders acknowledge it is "particularly challenging and complex" to get the jabs to them.

Care home residents and staff are among the top priorities when it comes to the distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations.

But concerns have been raised about the speed of that process and the availability of supplies.

At a meeting of Norfolk County Council's cabinet on Tuesday, Bill Borrett, the council's cabinet member for adult social care, said the process to vaccinate residents was under way, after a pilot project between Christmas and New Year.

Norfolk county councillor Alexandra Kemp, who represents Clenchwarton and King's Lynn South. Picture

Norfolk county councillor Alexandra Kemp. - Credit: Ian Burt

Alexandra Kemp, independent county councillor for Clenchwarton and King's Lynn South, raised concerns over the roll-out of those vaccines in the county's care homes.

Mr Borrett said: "The Covid-19 vaccination programme is a fast-moving and fast-changing picture and is particularly challenging and complex for care homes and people who are housebound.

"National guidance recommends that staff and residents from the care homes with the largest number of beds are vaccinated first, and this is the approach we have followed locally."

He said care homes had been asked to provide staff numbers and locations, with staff lists from Norfolk's largest care homes provided to hospital hubs to make arrangements for jabs.

Bill Borrett. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social care. - Credit: Matthew Usher

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He said: "Lowestoft, Thetford and Swanton Morley Primary Care Networks participated in a care home Pfizer pilot and vaccinated 75 care home residents between Christmas and New Year.

"We are now starting to vaccinate more care homes residents using roving teams, led by our primary care networks.

"The roving teams will be using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the care homes will be contacted directly to inform them when vaccination will take place.

"The NHS is refining its planning based on the pilot and work done to date, as well as conducting preparatory work, so that the system is as ready as it can be as the supplies of vaccines increase.

"There has been positive feedback from those care providers and from those who have received the vaccination as part of the care home pilot."

But Ms Kemp said after the meeting she was concerned at the speed of the roll-out, while Ed Maxfield, independent county councillor for Mundesley, said bureaucracy must not get in the way.

Ed Maxfield. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

Norfolk county councillor Ed Maxfield. - Credit: Liberal Democrats

He said: "The reply to Alexandra Kemp says care homes have to fill in forms showing the number of staff and residents before the NHS decides which care homes are dealt with first.

"Surely it would be better to just get stuck in and deliver the vaccination programme as quickly as possible to care homes?

"Information is available publicly about the number of residents each home can have, it would have been simpler to use that to decide where to go first.”

Last week, James Bullion, director of adult social care for Norfolk County Council, said he was worried about the impact of staff shortages amid outbreaks in care homes.