Public service union Unison today called on the government to ensure the roll-out of any Covid-19 vaccine is managed entirely by the NHS and public bodies, adding that it opposed the involvement of private firms and the use of unqualified staff.

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 that any mass vaccination programme must be delivered and supervised by healthcare professionals.

Unison also called for some experienced groups such as operating department practitioners to be added to the list of health professionals who can administer vaccines.    

Sara Gorton, Unison head of health, 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.”

Date published: October 16, 2020

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