Royal Mail chaos ‘putting Covid vaccination programme at risk’ – warning for vulnerable

Matt Hancock outlines details of UK vaccine delivery plan

Royal Mail chiefs have admitted some areas of the country are suffering delays to regular deliveries. They are blaming the disruption on high levels of coronavirus-related staff absences combined with an increased workload due to a surge in online shopping sparked by extended lockdown restrictions.

Poor service from Royal Mail means constituents are waiting weeks for post, including vaccination invitations

David Lammy

Labour MP David Lammy claims some of his constituents were waiting weeks for their mail and warned the delays could be putting people’s lives at risk.

The Tottenham MP tweeted: “Poor service from Royal Mail because of staff shortages means constituents are waiting weeks for post, including vaccination invitations.

“This is putting lives at risk in the N4/N8 area. It needs to be sorted out ASAP.”

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Royal Mail bosses insisted the company was working hard to deliver a comprehensive and high-quality service.

In a statement they said: “The combination of greatly increased uptake of online shopping, and the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, mean that all delivery companies are experiencing exceptionally high volumes.

“Every single parcel and letter is important to us.

“Despite our best efforts and significant investment in extra resource, some customers may experience slightly longer delivery timescales than our usual service standards.

“This is due to the exceptionally high volumes we are seeing, exacerbated by the coronavirus-related measures we have put in place in local mail centres and delivery offices to keep our people and customers safe.

“In such cases, we always work hard to get back to providing our usual level of service as quickly as we can.”

Royal Mail confirmed it was trying to tackle problems with deliveries to parts of north London including Highbury, Upper Holloway, and Enfield as well as other parts of the country.

A spokesman said the disruption was “due to resourcing issues”.

Letters inviting the over-80s to attend mass vaccination centres are being sent out by NHS England.

The first 130,000 invitations asking the elderly to sign up for a jab at the centres were due to arrive last weekend with more than 500,000 to follow this week.

The letters have been sent to people aged 80 or older who live between a 30 to 45-minute drive from one of seven new regional centres, with information about how they can book a slot either over the phone or via an online national booking service.

The seven England centres include Ashton Gate in Bristol, Epsom racecourse in Surrey, the Excel Centre where London’s Nightingale hospital is based, Newcastle’s Centre for Life, the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, Robertson House in Stevenage and Birmingham’s Millennium Point.

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Boris Johnson said: “Our plan is to vaccinate as many people as possible across the entire United Kingdom as quickly as we can.

“And with more than 1,000 vaccination sites across the country, including seven new mass vaccination centres, we will help protect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people over the coming weeks as we accelerate towards offering 12 million people the jab in England by the middle of February.

“There are deeply challenging weeks ahead, but today signals another significant step forward in the race to protect the public, and defeat the virus.”

The initial batch of regional centres was chosen to give a geographical spread covering as many people as possible.

Over-80s invited to mass vaccination centres long distances from their homes have been advised that they can wait for a local appointment in the future if they prefer.

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