Betsi Cadwaladr health chief confident of hitting vaccine targets

Picture by the Welsh Government.

Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter

The man responsible for coordinating the roll-out of the Covid vaccine in north Wales says Betsi could administer 100,000 jabs each week if it had enough doses.

However, Dr Chris Stockport, executive director of primary care and community services, said it was “unlikely” they would need to get to that number.

His response came after a patient champion was told, by a senior figure in the organisation, Betsi Cadwaladr’s infrastructure was able to handle at least that amount of inoculations each week.

Geoff Ryall-Harvey, chief officer for patient advocate North Wales Community Health Council, said he had been impressed with how the board had organised itself for the mass vaccination programme.

He said: “Betsi said to us they could cope with in excess of 100,000 vaccinations a week if they had the vaccine.

“They’re doing about 30,000 at the moment, which will take six months to get through the population of North Wales. The problem seems to be supply.”

Capacity

Dr Stockport was more cautious about the claim. He said: “It’s possible for us to increase capacity to vaccinate this number of people from our facilities, and plans are in place to increase capacity depending on need and availability of vaccines.

“Alongside our own capacity, we are also seeing the primary care element of the vaccine roll-out programme picking up pace across North Wales.

“This will add considerable additional capacity to what has been in place over the last few weeks.

“With that in mind, it is unlikely that we will need to surge Mass Vaccination Centre numbers to this number, considering the ongoing need to balance vaccine allocation priority, capacity and availability of vaccines.

“We will continue to review our capacity on a week-by-week basis according to the amount of vaccinations available.”

Dr Stockport said because of the transport and storage issues with the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine it was only being used at its mass vaccination centres.

GPs are being given the Oxford/Astra Zeneca version to dispense to patients.

Welsh Government had been criticised for holding back vaccines but has pledged to increase the numbers it hands out to health boards over the coming weeks.

A spokeswoman confirmed 100,000 doses would be handed out this week, double the number last week.

Wales has received at least 268,300 doses in total of both vaccines since early December but that is expected to rise sharply over the coming weeks.

Up to 10pm last night more than 190,000 people had received their first vaccination according to Public Health Wales (PHW).

The latest figures, up to week-ending January 17, show Betsi Cadwaladr has given out 32,264 doses of Covid vaccines, but those figures are incomplete and will not include some care staff and others whose details have not yet been registered electronically.

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