Call for inquiry into allegations council staff were sharing around invitations for Covid vaccines

Vaccination

Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter

An entire council’s cabinet has called on its chief executive to launch an internal investigation into claims staff shared invitations in order to “queue jump” for Covid vaccinations.

It emerged Denbighshire council staff were able to book a Covid-19 vaccine before front line workers after an email invite was shared when it shouldn’t have been.

Denbighshire Council said it contacted staff to warn them of the seriousness of the matter and was carrying out internal checks to make sure its email system is not being abused.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone had benefited from the ruse and actually received a jab, although it highlighted a potential flaw in the appointment system.

At last Thursday’s health board meeting chair Mark Polin said “people shouldn’t be doing what they are doing”, in response to the issue.

He added: “People jumping the queue are depriving someone else, potentially, of receiving the vaccine at the point at which they should.”

The health board said it would also be tightening procedures surrounding vaccine invitations and pointed out validation of those receiving jabs was undertaken at all vaccination centres.

 

‘Open to abuse’

Now Denbighshire council’s cabinet of elected representatives has issued a joint statement calling for the head of the paid service to act and clear the matter up.

The statement said: “You will be aware of press stories over the weekend which stated Denbighshire council staff had been able to receive Covid vaccinations in spite of being ineligible.

“To the best of our knowledge this has not happened but cabinet has instructed the chief executive, Judith Greenhalgh, to launch an internal investigation to confirm this.

“Since we found the regional system was potentially open to abuse we instructed DCC staff the invitation to be vaccinated should not be shared, and the consequences of doing so would be subject to disciplinary action.

“The Health Board had been provided with a list of eligible staff and our understanding is nobody has been able to use this system to receive the vaccination who is not eligible to receive one.

“We know our staff have been working above and beyond to keep residents of Denbighshire safe during the pandemic and we are confident the overwhelming majority of them have not – and would not – abuse the system.

“Meanwhile we continue to work with partners across the region to ensure people are vaccinated in the order of prioritisation in place across the country.”

Judith Greenhalgh, chief executive of Denbighshire county council, confirmed there would be an investigation.

She added: “The Council’s investigation will be thorough and anyone found to have acted against our code of conduct will be dealt with appropriately. To date there is no evidence that anyone has.”

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