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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The UK Government's problem with over-promising

We have been here before of course, notably over the fiasco of rolling out Covid 19 tests, when every promise, pledge and target that came out of the mouths of Ministers proved to be unattainable, over-ambitious and not based on any rational assessment of capacity. Now, we see reports such as this one in the Independent that Ministers have admitted their target to vaccinate 2 million people a week may not be hit until the end of January.

As ever, the problem can be traced back to Boris Johnson, who promised to inoculate the 12 million most at-risk people in England – and 14 million across the UK – by mid-February, to speed up the easing of the third Covid lockdown.

Quite apart from the fact that he cannot speak for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, a new official plan contradicts this pledge, saying: “by the end of January, our capacity to vaccinate several hundred thousand a day, and at least 2 million people per week, will be achieved”:

The government had been warned that it needed to be reaching 2 million a week almost immediately to achieve the ambitious mid-February timetable.

Earlier, the prime minister’s spokesperson defended not currently offering round-the-clock vaccinations on the grounds there is “not a clamour for jabs after 8pm”.

The 47-page plan promises 50 mass vaccination sites, with jabs also available at 206 hospitals and 1,200 local sites – with no-one living more than 10 miles from a vaccine centre.

All adults will be offered a vaccination by the autumn, a task “equivalent to establishing a national supermarket business in less than a month” falling to 80,000 NHS staff and 200,000 potential volunteers so far.

The document is the first to set out the progress in delivering vaccinations – 1.96 million people in England by 10 January, 375,000 receiving a second dose.

However, the Department for Health and Social Care has not provided a breakdown by region, or age – information that might be provided in the weeks to come.

Wouldn't it be better, and more credible for Ministers to abandon the hyperbole and instead just come clean to us on what can and cannot be realistically delivered?
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