Health chiefs have rejected a Covid vaccine offer from general practitioners in Ayrshire – weeks before the Omicron outbreak.
Ayrshire Live can reveal family doctors across the county have offered to put out thousands of shots before Christmas.
But the proposal was rejected before medics were put on a war footing last week to fight the new variant of the virus.
Today, around a quarter of surgeries across Ayrshire have been recruited to help with the emergency effort.
However, a prominent doctor insists the decision should have been made as early as October – and says lives could have been saved as a result.
The senior GP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Public health was just not interested in our offer of help.
“We could have managed hundreds of vaccines a day in our one practice.
“We already have the administrative team in place, the facilities are there and the staff were ready and willing.
“But for some reason the NHS didn’t see this as an option they wanted.
“Now a few weeks later they are scrambling and realizing they could use us after all.
“But even then, they were happy enough to wait until January – it was only through sheer pressure from us that things got going this week.”
The frustrated doc added, “We know the vaccine stocks are in Crosshouse and we literally had to beg for them.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that this approach is what puts lives at risk.
“Thousands more people could have received vaccine doses or boosters if we had been allowed to help them before now. “
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This follows a warning from Ayr’s top doctor, Tommy Hunter, who said nearly 12 months ago that GPs were not allowed to help with the massive vaccine rollout.
Lynne McNiven, Director of Public Health at NHS Ayrshire & Arran, said: ‘Local GPs have played an important role in our winter vaccination over the past few months, with many practices vaccinating homebound or elderly patients. over 80 years old.
“In mid-November, some general practitioner practices were also able to offer seasonal influenza vaccinations to help speed up the program to other priority groups, allowing our mass vaccination centers to deliver more large number of Covid-19 booster vaccines.
“Due to the increasing number of transmissions of Covid-19 in our communities, national guidelines have recently been received allowing primary care colleagues in general medicine to review their service delivery models to prioritize the delivery of health care. health to those who need it most.
“This will also allow some of our Ayrshire GP practices to further assist the vaccination program by being able to offer Covid-19 vaccines to more of their patients for boosters or first or second doses to those earlier in their vaccination trip, as indicated by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunizations (JCVI).
“We are extremely grateful to our GPs for their involvement as we all work together to protect as many local people as possible from the negative impacts of the coronavirus. “
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