Monday 23 November 2020 / 8:14 AM Coronavirus / Jonathan Ashworth

Labour calls for the government to appoint a dedicated ‘Minister for the Vaccine’

Labour is today (Monday) calling for the government to appoint a dedicated ‘Minister for the Vaccine’ to oversee the roll-out of a Covid-19 vaccine, provide accountability and avoid repeating mistakes made over PPE procurement and Test and Trace.

With the Prime Minister expected to confirm a return to the tiered system after December 2nd, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, has warned that the success of the vaccine’s roll-out is vital for minimising the time areas remain in economically damaging restrictions.

Labour is calling for the government to publish a plan that ensures no community is left behind in the vaccine’s rollout, including: 

  • The creation of a dedicated ‘Minister for the Vaccine’to avoid the mistakes of Test and Trace by providing national leadership and accountability to the programme and regularly updating Parliament on the vaccination programme’s progress. This comes after the botched outsourcing of the £12bn Test and Trace system, and the £18bn ‘contract cronyism’ fiasco which saw Tory-linked companies handed millions of pounds for unusable PPE.
  • A commitment to deliver the resources needed to meet the Easter target for vaccine roll-outat the upcoming spending review. The promise of a vaccination programme completed by Easter must be backed by the cross-governmental resources to achieve it.
  • A national public health communication strategyto ensure the public are fully informed about the vaccine. This must tackle vaccine hesitancy and target communities with historically lower vaccination rates. Information on the vaccine must be available in accessible formats and other languages from the start of the programme.
  • An equal access planto put the infrastructure in place to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, can access the vaccine.

 

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“After months of sacrifice, people are looking forward with hope to a vaccine that will save lives and provide a route out of lockdown restrictions. But after the ministerial mistakes over the procurement of PPE and the £12 billion for the failing Test and Trace system, nobody wants yet more avoidable mishaps.

“Boris Johnson must reassure the country that Ministers have the resources and plans in places to deliver the vaccination programme as promised.

‘We need a Herculean effort to achieve the roll-out of a vaccine at a magnitude and scale unlike any we have ever seen before. Our NHS has gone above and beyond this year but is exhausted and overstretched. We can’t limp into the next crucial period of our battle with coronavirus, the government must urgently provide the resources necessary to ensure the speedy and smooth deployment of a vaccine. The necessary plans need to be in place now.”