Exclusive: GPs told to stand down routine care and focus on Covid vaccinations – Telegraph.co.uk

He said: “The approval of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine means general practice will play an even greater role in the Covid vaccination programme.

“This will mean that some workload prioritisation is necessary, focusing on de-prioritising non-essential tasks such as routine health checks, to keep general practice – and in turn the rest of the NHS – sustainable.

“It’s important that decisions about this are made at a local level, taking into account the needs of local populations, and the RCGP is working with the BMA to develop guidance in this area.”

He said GPs need an expanded vaccinating workforce, including more pharmacists, to make this happen.

Health officials have repeatedly urged those with health problems to come forward for help amid concern that millions of people in need of treatment have suffered delays during the pandemic.

On Thursday, health chiefs will announce the expansion of the vaccine programme, with hundreds of GP surgeries doling out the AstraZeneca or Pfizer jabs.

Almost 1,000 sites – including hundreds more GP surgeries – will be enrolled in the programme in the coming days, with the roll-out of jabs to care homes and the creation of mass vaccination centres.

Next week, the NHS will open seven mass centres, including those at London’s Nightingale and Epsom racecourse, administering jabs by AstraZeneca.

Matt Hancock, the  Health Secretary, said: “Every part of the Government and the NHS are working around the clock to rapidly scale up our Covid-19 vaccination programme so we can protect those most at risk from this awful disease as quickly as possible.

“The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be transported easily and I’m delighted care home residents will begin receiving their first Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs this week.”

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson told the Commons: “We are in a tough final stretch, made only tougher by the new variant. After the marathon of last year, we are indeed now in a sprint, a race to vaccinate the vulnerable faster than the virus can reach them. Every needle in every arm makes a difference.”

The Prime Minister said laws governing the lockdown will stay in place until March 31, warning that the end of the restrictions would “not be a big bang but a gradual unwrapping”.