Hundreds queue round the block for booster jabs as NHS website crashes

Hundreds of people have been pictured queueing up for booster jabs on Monday morning, while the NHS booking website crashed.

It comes after the Prime Minister called on the health service to deliver as many as a million jabs a day.

Boris Johnson set the hugely ambitious target for an under-strain NHS currently only managing around 500,000 daily vaccine doses.

But there are now concerns that other services in the NHS will be reduced to move resources to the ramped up rollout – while lateral flow tests appear to be out of stock.

Several reporters have tried for hours to book a booster jab on the NHS website, but all have unable to do so – with thousand in the digital queue.

People were seen lining up around the block at multiple vaccine sites on Monday, when government advice changed to call for staff to work from home ‘if you can’.

Everyone over 18 in England will be offered booster jabs from this week, the PM said on Sunday night, when he declared a looming ‘Omicron emergency’.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted that the Government will ‘throw everything at’ the booster programme, with GPs only focusing on urgent needs and vaccinations for the next few weeks.

But the NHS in England advised people trying to book a booster jab to try later or tomorrow as people faced long waits on the website.

In a tweet, the health service said: ‘The Covid vaccine booking service is currently facing extremely high demand so is operating a queuing system.

‘For users aged 18-29, please be aware that booking opens on Wednesday 15 Dec.

‘For all others experiencing waits, we would advise trying again later today or tomorrow.’

The boss of the organisation which represents NHS trusts said pressure on health services is ‘not sustainable’ as the UK faces a wave of Omicron Covid-19 infections.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told Sky News a combination of record highs in 999 calls, the second-highest ever number of emergency department admissions, elective procedure backlogs, the extension of the booster campaign, and social care pressure mean the NHS is ‘busier than it’s ever been before.’

He said: ‘That’s obviously a worry because it’s before the traditional winter peak in January and it’s before any cases really coming into hospitals and we are now starting to do in terms of Omicron cases, so we’re already at beyond full stretch, in our view, before either of those things occur so it’s a worrying time, but as you’d expect everybody on the NHS frontline is doing absolutely the best they can to provide the best possible care.’

He added yesterday’s request from the Prime Minister for ‘extraordinary effort’ comes as staff are ‘very, very tired’.

Mr Hopson said: ‘I think staff are worried, to be frank, that this level of pressure is going to become normalised and it’s not sustainable.’

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