‘Absolutely disgraceful’: Over 80s forced to queue outside for more than an hour at new Covid vaccine hub

Many of the elderly patients had walking frames; some had oxygen tanks

Colin Drury
North of England Correspondent
Wednesday 13 January 2021 10:36 GMT
Patients queue for their Covid-19 vaccination outside Newcastle’s Centre for Life
Patients queue for their Covid-19 vaccination outside Newcastle’s Centre for Life (PA)

Dozens of people aged over 80 – many with walking frames, some with oxygen tanks – have had to queue outside for more than an hour to get their coronavirus vaccine.

The elderly patients - some of who were in wheelchairs - were left in the cold while waiting to have their jab at the Newcastle Centre for Life, one of the government’s seven new mass inoculation hubs.

One nurse, who accompanied a relative to the site, said she was astonished by the lack of regulation in the queue and labelled the scene: “Absolutely disgraceful."

She told the PA news agency: “We were early so we asked the person on the door and they said just join the queue, don't worry about appointments, just join the queue.

“It was full of people with walking frames and oxygen tanks on their back.”

Prof Neil Watson, of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is running the region's Covid vaccination programme, apologised for the long wait but appeared to suggest people turning up early had caused the chaos.

"We apologise to people who were with us today,” he said. “It hasn't been a great experience.

"We urge people to stick to their appointments."

The mass vaccination sites – part of the government’s drive to have 13 million people protected from Covid-19 by mid-February – have been open just two days but are already at the centre of some considerable controversy.

GPs have repeatedly expressed concerns that the hubs are confusing and logistically difficult for older patients to get to.

They also say the sites have diverted vital vaccine supplies away from local surgeries resulting in the roll out going slower than it could have done.

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