GMB union political officer, Neil Smith, warns of vaccine cuts up North

Is it because of shortages through incompetence? We need to know why less than 8 million people out of around 56 million have been vaccinated so far.

4 February 2021

GMB regional political offer, Neil Smith says ‘’It is Cold Up North for political equality and vaccine supply.’’

A briefing by Matt Hancock and a couple of medical experts this week had a key repeat word, aimed at reassuring us. The Health Minister responded to a question from a north of England journalist by congratulating the area for “going great guns” testing and vaccinating. He also claimed the north of the country were receiving their fair share of vaccines. However for the want of a better phrase - he let the cat out the bag by admitting it was all about supplies available across the country, but it was important it went to all parts of the whole country on a fair basis according to need. Somehow that didn’t sound assuring – at all.

But the mantra continued. “We can reassure you… we want to reassure you… we hope this information is reassuring…” 

Are you reassured? Do you trust this government to run anything well? Their levels of incompetence from the very start has been shocking. Being competent is very important for a government dealing with protection of our population during this deadly pandemic. But so is political equality, specifically where people need to be treated based on need. 

Do you believe this government have a record of treating people fairly? Do they have a track record of treating different parts of the country in a fair and equitable manner? Well this latest approach attempting an equal and fair approach seems to be open to question.

Cutting the supply of vaccines to the north west of England by a third this month appears to – well be the opposite of that. Doctors and clinicians have already described the distribution as “chaotic”. We already know that the north west has suffered more Covid deaths than any other part of England yet this government are planning to cut the weekly supply to the region by 200,000 a week. 

Just to be fair of course. To be equitable you understand.

It is beyond belief even for this collection of imbeciles posing as politicians erroneously claiming to be caring and competent. It is unacceptable just as it was to fail to provide PPE to care homes and NHS workers on time. 

This decision comes in a week when GPs have complained to the media that vaccines have been scarcer than hens teeth; supplies vanished without explanation; also adding confusion(which to be fair and equitable they are good at) to care service workers and patients by opening “new mass vaccination centres”. Another move taken apparently without meaningful consultation with primary care leaders in our communities. Hospitals are being overstretched by Covid arrivals and staff are being seconded, shanghaied and offered even more hours of work via TOIL to deliver jabs as part of the vaccine rollout. But there doesn’t appear to be any cohesion or communication and it is bordering on another shambles, despite the amazing efforts of NHS workers in hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries.

NHS England and an assortment of government ministers have said that the north and north west will get “all the vaccinations needed”. But Matt Hancock has now said it will be on a fair basis, so what does that mean? Who will determine how the vaccines are distributed? Will it be diverted to the leafy suburbs of Surrey or similar Tory strongholds first? Is it because of shortages through incompetence? We need to know why less than 8 million people out of around 56 million have been vaccinated so far. We need to know why there isn’t enough vaccines or expert needlers available to target vulnerable areas. Why if it is based on need, aren’t areas where most people have died of Covid not being targeted before now?

Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor said this week that he was reassured (That word again) by NHS Engand’s commitment to vaccinate the first four priority groups by mid-February, but he did express the concern that the current changes were all a “bit worrying”. Particularly as around “200,000 citizens of Manchester still have to get the jab”.

Both Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock between them have said there will “be bumps” and “ a bit of bumping along” the road and that doesn’t sound good for us up north as the road gets bumpier the further north we get. We know there are Covid-deniers around and those who are paranoid or are genuinely concerned about being vaccinated, however we want the real assurances that for those who want and are ready to be vaccinated and made safer, the supplies are here. Here in the Covid-hit and austerity damaged northern realms of the UK.


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