Vaccine volunteers face “overload of bureaucracy” to support roll-out

Volunteer vaccinators are being asked to fulfil numerous training obligations
Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images

Medical professionals such as dentists say they have been unable to offer support to administer coronavirus vaccines due to an “overload of bureaucracy”.

Reports have emerged that potential volunteers have been asked to fill in multiple forms and questionnaires, including providing information on unrelated matters such as fire drills and preventing radicalisation.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Andrew Marr programme this weekend that the additional form-filling was “absurd” and that he was working with the Department of Health to reduce the amount of bureaucracy.

The paid vaccinator roles only require healthcare experience, but many volunteers have reported having to upload numerous documents and complete online training modules before they could progress their application.

The checklist to become an NHS vaccinator includes training stipulations such as “moving and handling” and “conflict resolution” alongside other areas such as infection prevention and how to store the vaccines.

One dentist pointed out that the module required on safeguarding children would be irrelevant as children are not currently a priority for vaccination.

Two retired healthcare practitioners told the BBC that they felt they were asked to “jump through 101 hoops” to meet the necessary requirements, despite having already helped to administer the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved last month, to care home residents.

Retired doctors and nurses who have been hoping to assist in the vaccination effort have faced similar hurdles.

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said bureaucratic barriers needed to be kept to “the bare minimum”.

“Requiring people to submit more than 20 pieces of documentation, some of which have low relevance to the task they will be doing, and some of which some retired medics and returners to the profession won’t even have, is a deterrent for them getting involved at a time when we need all hands on deck,” he said.

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine began to be administered today, while hundreds of thousands of patients have already received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, but are awaiting confirmation over when they will receive the second.

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4 Responses to Vaccine volunteers face “overload of bureaucracy” to support roll-out

  1. Avatar
    Mark Tee 11 Jan 2021 at 4:02 pm #

    It was the same with the NHS Hospitality Assistant roles back in April. Out of around 20 different modules that had to be completed, *** TWO *** seemed to be about infection control (clinical and non-clinical). MUCH more time was spent in “Celebrating Diversity, empowerment, equal opportunities, fire safety marshalling, health & safety” – watching videos about people “celebrating” something at Wicksteed park as they went around on a toy train. This was part of the training.

    Almost gave up. Same with the Vaccinator training – despite that the training the FIRST time around for the NHS was supposed to be “transferable”, had to do most of the same modules albeit in a different format all over again. I really can lift a box very safely now, and I also know that if someone with an IQ of an artichoke wants to be a brain surgeon then we must do all we can to empower them to do so.

    Don’t get me wrong, all the empowerment / celebrating drivel is terribly terribly important (the modules keep telling us so) – BUT that is for pen pushers to tick little boxes over – not for someone that is basically a glorified cleaner / porter / food server.

    I needed to know how to wash a lavatory, serve food safely, wipe up spills and deep-clean rooms when patients had moved out. Not once did I have to work out how best to empower a minority disabled person to apply for my job.

    So long as the lavatory was gleaming and the food was hot, people seemed happy.

    Again, same with the vaccinator training, the USEFUL information was taught face-2-face in a VERY well run course by St. John Ambulance. The online NHS training however did seem mostly irrelevant – and when it WAS relevant, the face-2-face training had almost always replaced it with new instructions anyway.

    I know everyone is doing their best, training courses are being created in days and nobody is perfect. I *DO* think though that in times of Emergency, we need to have people that can create a “bare-bones” training system to get things moving rapidly.

    Not worry about the dancing in the tent (don’t ask).

    • Avatar
      Alison 13 Jan 2021 at 11:10 am #

      As a retired nurse I offered my support back in March 2020. I completed all the security, sent references and heard nothing. Again in Dec I applied to support the vaccination programme. I sat from 10am to 7pm completing mandatory training that was irrelevant, then sent all the certs and my documentation. I now hear that the NHS are simplifying application and I was relieved to be finally helping. Got an email yesterday to say they were making things simpler. Wrong. Now they are saying that some of the courses I completed were wrong and that I have another 4 units to do.
      I have felt so powerless throughout the pandemic and really wanted to help. I will keep going and hopefully finally offer my support.

  2. Avatar
    Jacqueline Snape 14 Jan 2021 at 10:28 pm #

    I have volunteered. As a Physiotherapist with 39 years of experience of patient care I felt my skills were well placed to volunteer. The e learning modules we are expected to complete are intimidating in their volume and ludicrous in their content. Skilled people, ready and able to help, will be deterred. The process requires urgent review and revision.

  3. Avatar
    Kate Barker 16 Jan 2021 at 4:42 pm #

    Oh gosh , I thought it was just me! I retired from nursing Dec 2019 and having moved house to a new area decided in December I was ready to return and Do My Bit.
    I have done school vaccinations for HPV and Flu vaccinations as a Community Nurse. I will admit the IT side of Nursing has always been a challenge ,but when working there were always IT savvy nurses willing to trade practical help with IT support! Last week I became quite depressed with all the different sections to navigate through and all the separate uploading and pdf ing! After about 15 hrs I decided for my own mental health I would have to abandon and just carry on doing my bit by staying at home.
    However with the latest email telling me how it was going to be made easier I gave it won’t more go and 2 hrs later I had completed it all – in fact I’d done extra – but hey ho , it was done…..except,
    when I then tried to log on for the background check it won’t accept a password , however many times I reset it according to the instructions, so am I going to be flummoxed again. Now awaiting for them to reply to my Help email………

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