Covid Watch: Local and national infection rates fall more but Storm Christoph may have distorted the data

This is just a quick update on the data. I’ll do a more detailed analysis as soon as I can find the space. Covid-19 rates are falling in the county and across England. That’s good news but there is concern that Storm Christoph will have cut the number of tests nationally and in north Shropshire. That will reduce the number of reported cases which locally are running at around 12 tests in 100 being positive.

GPs have confirmed that vaccination for the over 80s will at last begin next Thursday, 28 January. We are behind in vaccination in south west Shropshire. We hope to catch up in just a few days. Residents of registered with GPs Ludlow, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Clun and Bishops Castle who are over 80 will receive letters or calls inviting them to attend the Mayfair Centre on Easthope Road in Church Stretton. Clinics are expected run 12 hours a day, including through next weekend. Discussions are underway with bus and taxi companies about transport. Those that are housebound or cannot travel to Church Stretton will be offered vaccination in the coming weeks. Please don’t ring your GP about your vaccination appointment. Switchboards have been overwhelmed. GPs are saying: “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” Ring 119 if you think you might be ill with Covid-19 or want a test. Ring your GP if you have concerns about other illnesses.

Covid Watch: Ludlow Racecourse Vaccination Centre to open at beginning of February as National Health England condemned for secrecy

This was unexpected. Shropshire Council’s portfolio holder for health, Dean Carroll  announced this morning that the Ludlow Racecourse Vaccination Centre will open at the beginning of February. National Health England (NHE) had been refusing to release this information and Dean stuck his neck out to make the announcement this morning. It was not due to the end of next week. I take my hat off to him. NHE and the Shropshire CCG believe that the best way of keeping everyone informed is to tell them as little as possible as late as possible. And blame everything onto the complexity of delivery, not their own mismanagement. They have no understanding of the uncertainty and distress they have been causing to people anxious to protect themselves through vaccination. It needs to step up and tell people what is happening as it is.

Covid Watch: Over 80s in south west Shropshire will initially be asked to go to Church Stretton for vaccination

It was the NHS’s worst kept secret. Shropshire is way behind many other areas in vaccinating it’s over 80s. Just 49 per cent of over 80s, including those in care homes, have been vaccinated. Just across the border in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, 73 per cent have been vaccinated. Only seven of 42 areas in England are doing worse than us. The Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group blames this on the complexity of the vaccine and logistics. It has not explained why this is suddenly becomes more complex when the vaccine crosses the border into our historic county. All the over 80s in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin will be vaccinated by 31 January the CCG says. The message from GP leaders is less certain. They are asking people from across south west Shropshire to go to Church Stretton for their jab until vaccination is available at local surgeries.

Covid Watch: Church Stretton, Dunne question and our struggles to get vaccinated

When do we want vax? Now! But everyone is getting frustrated that in south west Shropshire “now” is slipping away into the future. Philip Dunne asked a question of the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock today about the problems of vaccination in south west Shropshire. He got a promise of an answer and we await that. The complexity of the NHS has not helped vaccine rollout. We have top down vaccination centres and local GP delivery. If only it was as simple as that. Frankly, it is a mess. The urgent health priorities are becoming overwhelmed by the bureaucracy of the NHS. What worries me most is that consensus on how to go forward and how to provide information is breaking down. Nationally and locally.

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