It comes amid hopes a COVID-19 jab could be available in the UK by this year. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he expects the distribution of a vaccine in Britain to be a “mammoth logistical operation”.
However, the NHS is already having to deal with a second coronavirus wave which just this week saw a record 33,470 new cases being recorded in a single day – though analysts point out the UK’s testing capacity has also increased.
Health experts are now concerned that burdening the NHS with the rollout of a vaccine could “end in burnout”.
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association, has called on the government for “a reduction of bureaucracy”.
Some are concerned about the task of a nationwide vaccine rollout
Already, Mr Hancock has provided assurances the UK’s armed forces will be deployed to support the distribution of vaccines around the nation.
He said there would be “support seven days a week” including during bank holidays. He added: “I’m sure the NHS will rise to the challenge.”
However, GPs reportedly fear they still will not be able to deal with the size of the operation.
READ: Coronavirus: Rapid tests in care homes to begin trials
The UK’s ‘second wave’ of coronavirus cases has seen record-high numbers, but also a large increase in testing
One West Yorkshire doctor told the Daily Mirror: “It will be very difficult to roll this out on top of our usual workload. I’m concerned colleagues will buckle under the pressure.”
At the end of last month, a British Medical Association survey found 43 percent of doctors in the UK were experiencing “depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, emotional distress, or other mental health condition” that was worse than before the pandemic.
In addition, doctors expressed concern about how the NHS would continue to provide non-coronavirus-related care throughout the second wave of infections.
COVID-19 ‘rapid tests’ could enable loved ones to visit care homes [INSIGHT]
Spain holidays: Canary Islands ramp up restrictions with new rules for beaches and bars [ANALYSIS]
Coronavirus may cancel Christmas across Europe as Ireland tells expats not to come home [INFO]
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the UK’s vaccine rollout will be a ‘mammoth’ operation
When quizzed on the topic, 72 percent of 6,125 doctors surveyed revealed they were not confident social care would cope.
Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said the survey’s conclusions “showed the enormous scale of the challenges the NHS would face in the coming months”, according to the British Medical Journal.
Indeed, just last week around fifty charities and top health professionals in the UK joined forces to urge government leaders to prevent delays to cancer care.
A man walks past art in London supporting the NHS’ national coronavirus effort
UK coronavirus map
In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the respective leaders of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the charities said it is “imperative” that such delays are avoided.
It adds: “Workforce and equipment shortages – particularly in diagnostics – were holding back cancer services long before the pandemic.
“We simply need more staff, and for them to be fully equipped.”
Charities are calling for cancer care to be given more support
A spokesman for the Government responded: “The NHS treated two non-Covid patients for every Covid patient in the first wave and more than 870,000 people were referred for checks between March and August.”
Meanwhile, last month it was revealed that £15 million would be invested in mental health services for NHS staff in England.
The funding aims to provide NHS staff with access to mental health professionals so they can be “rapidly assessed and treated”.