Westminster Labour Councillors have called on the Conservative-run Council to provide direct help to residents to reach their Covid-19 vaccination appointments.
Reports received by Councillors suggest that many isolated residents in sheltered housing in Westminster are unable to make their own way to vaccination centres at Lord’s and in Vincent Square. This may be due to mobility difficulties or fear of leaving home after shielding or self-isolating for nearly a year during the pandemic.
Adults in the over-80 age range who are invited to have the jab are currently being left to organise their own transport to these sites which may be some distance from their homes.
In the North-West London area, which includes Westminster, figures released last Friday (22nd January) showed just 45.7% of over-80s have received their first jab – the third lowest in the country. Evidence suggests the vaccination rate in deprived areas of Westminster is significantly lower than in more affluent parts, a desperate situation where these residents are more likely to catch the virus and more likely to be severely affected and require hospitalisation.
In an email sent in response to a request for assistance in transporting residents who need help to and from vaccination centres, the Conservative Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health dismissed Labour Councillor Matt Noble’s plea for help, placing responsibility on already overstretched NHS services and local charities. ‘Only a handful of residents have contacted us about transport’ was the reply. The Cabinet Member also claimed that older residents queuing in freezing temperatures outside vaccination centres was not a problem and indicated residents were to blame for arriving at their appointments too early.
Councillor Matt Noble commented:
“It is extremely disappointing that the Council’s political leaders are refusing to assist residents, some of whom are extremely vulnerable, and would certainly be vaccinated if the means were provided to get them safely to and from the two sites. Vaccination rates are hugely concerning and the Council is once again failing those who need their help most”.
“Labour Councillors urge the Conservative leadership to do the right thing and procure safe transport for residents who need it to receive the life-saving vaccine. It is no good to say another appointment will be available in a few weeks if that is already too late. “