A dentist who offered to become an NHS Covid vaccinator has slammed the ‘overload of bureaucracy’ involved in the application process.
Dentist Andy Bates revealed he ‘gave up’ after having to wade through a huge checklist of training modules so he could qualify to administer the Covid-19 vaccine.
The learning list involves 18 modules, including vaccine administration, vaccine storage and core knowledge about jabs.
But other modules needed to administer the vaccine include one on fire safety and another on ‘preventing radicalisation’ – an NHS course on how to safeguard vulnerable people from being radicalised towards terrorism.
A DBS check, a passport or proof of right to work, and a highest education certificate are also required.
The NHS says the ‘appropriate training and checks are necessary to handle the vaccine’.
But Dr Bates, a 56-year-old dentist based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, said the ’huge list of documents’ he was asked to complete put him off.
He told the BBC: ‘I am a working dentist with a dental practice. I work four days a week which gives me a day off and the weekend, so I thought I could probably help out [with] explaining things to people, being able to use a needle, being able to relax people in an environment where you’re giving them a jab.
Dr Andy Bates, a 56-year-old dentist based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, said the ‘huge list of documents’ he was asked to complete put him off applying to provide the vaccine
The learning list involves 18 modules, including vaccine administration, vaccine storage and core knowledge about jabs
‘Some of the things [training modules] are really quite sensible – like resuscitation, and recognising and managing anaphylaxis – but then you get things like preventing radicalisation, level 1 certificate required [or] safeguarding children level 2.’
He added: ‘I must admit, I gave up at the second hurdle, because I’m very busy as a dentist and I do get home quite tired at night. I thought ‘good grief, If I have to go through all this’, I’m not [doing it].’
Mr Bates said he believes a fast-track system for registered healthcare practitioners should be made available to help speed up the process.
Those applying to be an NHS vaccinator must already have previous healthcare experience.
Applicants must provide 21 pieces of documentation to prove they have undertaken the specified training in what one former GP has described as ‘deeply patronising’
An NHS spokesperson said: ‘It is categorically untrue that there are any delays in covid vaccination caused by accrediting volunteers or returners.
‘We are delighted that former members of NHS staff have applied to become vaccinators and actually tens of thousands of people have already completed their online training – these are being processed as quickly as possible and vaccinators will be deployed as and when they are required.
‘Regardless of a person’s background in healthcare, appropriate training and checks are necessary to handle the vaccine, which is why important processes are in place to make sure that former members of staff are up to speed on protocols and delivery so that vaccinators are fully equipped with the skills to safely vaccinate patients in line with Public Health England standards.’
Mr Bates’ comments come after former GP of 30 years Jessica Jones, 59, who retired from her practice in Sunderland, told The Times she had completed just a quarter of the modules needed to volunteer after six hours of work across two days.
She said: ‘We were asked to do fire training, radicalisation recognition and things that make you wonder if the NHS is really desperate to have us back.
‘Surely we are capable of giving an intramuscular injection. If they’re really desperate, they will make it less ridiculous.’
Professor Martin Marshall told the Daily Mail that ‘some of these bureaucratic demands are ridiculous’ and ‘a box-ticking mentality is thwarting would-be NHS returnees’.
The chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners said: ‘I fear that the heavy-handed approach is not just undermining the goodwill of applicants, but is acting as a worrying deterrent to badly needed recruitment.’
Former occupational physician Celia Palmer, from London, also blasted the health service over its ‘bureaucratic’ system of approval for volunteers.
Former occupational physician Celia Palmer, from London, blasted the health service over its ‘bureaucratic’ system of approval for volunteers
It comes as the NHS prepares to begin the roll-out the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday – after it was given approval to be used in the UK last week.
Ahead of the new jab roll-out, scientist leading the vaccination programme have defended the decision to extend the gap between the two doses, insisting it is ‘the way we save lives’.
PFIZER HITS BACK AT UK PLAN TO GIVE PEOPLE ONE DOSE NOT TWO
Pfizer warned yesterday there is ‘no data’ to show a single dose of its coronavirus vaccine provides long-term protection after the UK scrapped its original jab rollout plan.
The UK medical regulator is now recommending Covid jabs are given in two doses three months apart, rather than four weeks apart, to allow millions more people to be immunised over a shorter time period.
The strategy will apply to both Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine and the newly approved jab by Oxford/AstraZeneca, despite limited data around the effectiveness of the initial doses.
It is a direct response to spiking Covid cases and hospitalisations across the UK that are being driven by a new, highly infectious strain that emerged in the South East of England in September.
Virtually the whole of England is facing brutal lockdown until the spring, with Covid vaccines the only hope of ending the devastation.
Health bosses now want to give as many people as possible an initial dose, rather than holding back the second doses, so more of the population can enjoy at least some protection.
AstraZeneca praised the move and revealed it had tested the three-month strategy on a small sub-group of trialists in its studies.
But Pfizer said there was ‘no data’ in its studies to show its vaccine protects against Covid when taken 12 weeks apart.
In a thinly-veiled swipe at the UK, the US firm warned that any ‘alternative’ dosing regimens should be closely monitored by health authorities.
‘Data from the phase three study demonstrated that, although partial protection from the vaccine appears to begin as early as 12 days after the first dose, two doses of the vaccine are required to provide the maximum protection against the disease, a vaccine efficacy of 95 per cent,’ Pfizer said in a statement.
‘There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.’
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says waiting 12 weeks between jabs rather than the original three will protect those most at risk of dying from Covid-19, adding that the focus must be ‘to deliver first vaccine doses to as many people, in the shortest possible timeframe’.
As the first supplies of the Oxford vaccine arrived in the UK yesterday, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer – who has become the trusted face of Downing Street press conferences during the crisis – predicted that ‘tens of millions of doses’ will be available by the end of March.
A senior Government source last night said that the 15 million jabs needed to protect those most at risk could be delivered by mid-March.
Vaccinating that vulnerable group is seen as crucial in releasing Britain from the crippling effects of lockdown.
Writing exclusively in The Mail on Sunday, Professor Van-Tam today rejected criticism that changing the period between the two doses of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines is confusing and potentially dangerous.
‘Simply put, every time we vaccinate someone a second time, we are not vaccinating someone else for the first time,’ he says.
‘It means we are missing an opportunity to greatly reduce the chances of the most vulnerable people getting severely ill from Covid-19.’
In his article for this newspaper, Prof Van-Tam says the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has found the Pfizer vaccine to be 89 per cent effective against Covid-19 from between 15 and 21 days after the first dose.
That rises to 95 per cent after a second dose, but he argues that extra six per cent comes at the cost of halving the number who can get a large degree of immunity from a single jab.
He adds: ‘If a family has two elderly grandparents and there are two vaccines available, it is better to give both 89 per cent protection than to give one 95 per cent protection with two quick doses, and the other grandparent no protection at all. The virus is unfortunately spreading fast, and this is a race against time.
‘My mum, as well as you or your older loved ones, may be affected by this decision, but it is still the right thing to do for the nation as a whole.’
In Britain, medics will start using the initial 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab from tomorrow. The first will be administered at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
By the end of the week, vaccines will be available at 160 hospital sites and 800 GP surgeries. Community pharmacies will also be used to deliver jabs.
The programme cannot be rolled out fast enough for crisis-hit schools and hospitals. Half of the major hospital trusts in England are dealing with more Covid-19 patients than they were at the peak of the first wave in April, and 29 out of 39 NHS Trusts have postponed most elective surgery.
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