How the College is responding to the vaccine roll-out in Wales

15 January 2021

We are part of the fight back.

From today, 100 general practices across Wales are directly involved in the vaccination programme and I'm aware that there are also GPs working in the larger vaccination centres. By the end of the month 250 practices will be involved.

Before I go any further, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for your hard work in delivering the vaccination programme.

There can be no doubt of the scale of the logistical operation underway. Inevitably not everything will work quite as smoothly as we would all like.

The key point in such circumstances is to ensure that GPs have a clear understanding of who to speak to so that any issues are swiftly rectified.

Since being asked to take on the role of COVID-19 Vaccination Lead for RCGP Cymru Wales, this has been one of my priorities.

The nature of the vaccine programme in Wales presents some challenges because decision making on the strategy is decentralised to each health board.

As a result, there can be significant differences in how the roll-out is handled in one area compared to another.

That said, decentralisation is not without its own merits if it is nimble and better able to respond to local situations.

Yet, what is vital in any model is that there are clear and responsive lines of accountability.

This was a point I made when meeting Health Minister Vaughan Gething on Tuesday.

Joined by RCGP Cymru Wales Joint Chairs, Drs Mair Hopkin and Peter Saul for the discussion, we focused on constructive ways in which the College can both support the Welsh Government strategy and feedback responses from our members about its implementation to allow for rapid adaptation if required. Crucial to this is clear communication.

I am representing the College on the COVID-19 Vaccination Board in Wales.

Meetings take place weekly and provide an important interface between the College and the vaccine programme decision-makers.

In addition, our RCGP Cymru Wales staff team have been engaging with the Welsh Government communications lead for the vaccination roll-out.

In truth, we might have been better placed to answer some of our members' questions had this occurred before Christmas, but we are where we are and the College is in a better position to constructively influence the implementation of this most important of programmes.

Internally, the College is holding weekly meetings with representatives from all four UK nations to monitor and respond to the respective vaccination programmes.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that there have been concerns raised by GPs about the vaccination roll-out.

This is evident in the feedback we are receiving from members on the RCGP Cymru Wales members forum.

Some issues have also appeared in the media and in other cases I know that members have felt it necessary to raise concerns through health board channels.

A project of this nature is always going to have both challenges on the ground and unhelpful partisan political bickering in the background.

If I may conclude this update by quoting myself from an article on Wales online this week, "from a GP’s perspective, as long as the vaccine supplies keep coming, we’ll keep jabbing".

Post written by

Dr Rob Morgan, Vice Chair of RCGP Cymru Wales

Rob is a Salaried GP working part time in the practice where he was a partner for over 20 years. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of RCGP Cymru Wales, he is an appraiser and has been so for the last 17 years.

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