News that the number of COVID-19 vaccines to be delivered to the North West are set to be slashed have been condemned by a Cumbrian MP.
NHS England has confirmed that the number of vaccines delivered to South Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire and Merseyside will be cut by a third next month.
The move comes because of national shortages and the need for other regions to catch up with vaccinating their priority groups, the NHS said.
But MP Tim Farron, who represents Westmorland and Lonsdale, has written a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to protest the decision and ask the Government to reconsider.
Mr Farron said he found it an ‘astonishing news’.
He said: “It is utterly inexcusable that the Government are seeking to dash that ray of hope by significantly reducing the supply of vaccines to our region.
“I strongly believe that the Government’s decision to penalise the North West for doing such a good job in administering the vaccine is deeply unfair and sends out completely the wrong message.”
South Cumbria and Lancashire have performed very well with vaccinating their over-80 populations, so the vaccine is being prioritised to other regions so they can catch up.
Vaccination sites in Barrow, Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale, Millom, Grange-over-Sands and Ulverston are likely to be affected by the decision.
Morecambe Bay CCG, which runs the vaccination programme, declined comment on the Government decision.
Mr Farron added: “Our region has seen the highest number of deaths during this pandemic, with nearly 15,000 lives lost to coronavirus.”
The Government said that deliveries were being diverted to areas with more people left to vaccinate in the priority groups, proportionate to their at-risk population.
It added that targets to vaccinate the top four priority groups by mid-February are still achievable.
The main reason behind the drop in numbers was that supply from Pfizer and AstraZeneca had been constrained, which limited the number of jabs that could be offered.
Mr Hancock said last week: “The challenge is essentially that we have a lumpy supply.”
As of Sunday, the NHS has vaccinated around 12 per cent of people in the North West.
An NHS North West spokeswoman said: “The North West is being fully supplied with all the vaccinations needed to offer vaccination to everyone across the region aged 70 and above, as well as clinically extremely vulnerable patients, and health and social care staff.”