Jonathan Ashworth hailed the government’s progress in delivering vaccines to immunize the population against coronavirus, but warned that “we need to go further and faster to vaccinate NHS workers”.
In a Sky News interview tonight, the shadow health minister told viewers that he was “terrified” at the current number of hospitalizations and deaths from the virus and the situation the healthcare sector is currently facing.
Shortly after the Health Secretary gave a Covid press conference tonight, Ashworth said, “I’m really, really concerned. I can’t tell you how concerned I am.
“There are more people in hospital in this wave than in the first wave. We are currently trending – trend, we are not there yet – more deaths in this wave than in the first wave. And there are well over 40,000 NHS employees who have Covid.
“So I’m telling the government, look, I congratulate the government on the progress we’ve made on vaccination – it’s good news, nobody can argue with that. But we have to go further and faster to vaccinate NHS workers. “
The shadow health minister urged the government to “vaccinate them quickly over the next 14 days,” and urged the government to consider using 24-hour vaccination sites to allow for faster distribution.
“If you vaccinate just under 30 million people,” he explained. “We will reduce hospital stays and deaths by about 99%. We should also be targeting that now. So we have to go further and faster.
“Let’s use our family doctors, let’s all use our chemists, community pharmacists. Let’s have our mobile centers. If required, we also have 24-hour vaccination centers. We are really in a race against time here. “
“I’m scared, I’m really, really worried.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth shares his concern about how the NHS is handling # COVID19 patients, saying that frontline workers should be “vaccinated quickly” over the next 14 days.
At the latest on # COVID19: https://t.co/k9S0FePeQv pic.twitter.com/phxsV6awWe
– Sky News (@SkyNews) January 11, 2021
The government today reported 46,169 new cases of Covid and 529 deaths. Matt Hancock gave his final press conference on television tonight warning the public that “we are at the worst point in this pandemic”.
Vaccine Use Minister Nadhim Zahawi told MPs tonight that 2.33 million vaccinations had been given, with 1.96 million having received their first dose while 374,613 had received both doses.
Both Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have called for a 24-hour vaccination program. The Labor leader said in a speech this morning that the country needed “vaccination programs around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.
Rayner added this afternoon, “Our wonderful NHS staff, as always, are rising to the challenge of delivering the vaccine. The British people have sacrificed so much, now the government must deliver for the British people.
“The Prime Minister must use this lockdown to develop a 24/7 vaccination program that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the government cannot weed out vaccinations around the clock, they have to admit that it is due to their own shortcomings, rather than blaming the public and NHS staff. “
Stephen Powis, the NHS National Medical Director, suggested in the Covid briefing tonight that by April everyone in the nine “at risk” groups, equivalent to 32 million people and more than half the UK’s adults, be vaccinated.
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