Suffolk flu jabs cancelled due to lorry driver shortage

Undated file photo of man receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Fewer than half of companies are giving staf

Some flu jab clinics in Suffolk have been cancelled due to delays in the delivery of the vaccines - Credit: PA

Flu vaccinations at some Suffolk surgeries will be delayed because of the ongoing shortage of lorry drivers, it has emerged.

Appointments for some patients will have to be rescheduled after Seqirus, the largest provider of flu vaccines to the UK, confirmed there would be delays of up to two weeks.

The company said “unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays” were to blame for the delivery disruption.

Stowhealth, the Stowmarket-based GP practice, said the delay meant they had been forced to cancel their first two walk-in flu clinics on September 11 and 12.

Debenham Group Practice has also had to cancel a six hour-long drive through flu clinic on the September 11.

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A spokeswoman for the practice said: "Organising and re-organising flu vaccine clinics all adds to the pressures on already stretched primary care."

Dr Richard Vautrey, British Medical Association GP committee chairman, said the issue is likely to affect a “significant proportion” of practices – and have a “serious impact” on practice workloads and patients.

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He said: “Many practices will have spent the last few days and weeks meticulously planning for their flu vaccination programme, inviting and booking patients in for their jabs, only now to have to contact them all again to cancel or reschedule appointments.

“This causes a huge increase in staff’s already unsustainable workloads, and inconvenience and unneeded anxiety for patients who will be keen to be protected ahead of winter.

“This is on top of the chaos already being caused by the shortage of blood test bottles, which is leaving hardworking doctors and practice teams bearing the brunt of understandable frustrations from patients when the problem is well outside of their control.

“That this appears to be stemming from similar issues around freight capacity and transportation is incredibly concerning, and we must ask the Government exactly what it is doing to urgently address this.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has previously said it believes there is a shortfall of about 60,000 haulage drivers in the UK after around 30,000 HGV driving tests did not take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hauliers blamed the driver shortage on a combination of Brexit, the pandemic and long-term systemic problems in the haulage industry.

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