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Calls for surge vaccinations in the North West – due to its high rates of community transmission and hospitalisation – have fallen on deaf ears.

Analysis of official data by HSJ shows the region has delivered a significantly lower rate of vaccine doses than the rest of the country in recent weeks.

Its share of the total doses being delivered in England has fallen from around 13 per cent in mid-May to around 10.5 per cent in early June.

In terms of its overall share of adults who have had a first or second dose, the region remains slightly ahead of the national average — which may have had a bearing on its supply — but it is not ahead of most other regions.

HSJ also understands the region is set to see a further drop in its share of supplies in July, to around 9.5 per cent of the national total, under national plans.

This is likely to be controversial as parts of the region are thought to have high risk factors both in terms of virus transmission and vulnerability to the virus. The plan is likely to be challenged by local politicians, although supplies would still theoretically allow all regions to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July.

Ministers have said the vaccine programme would continue to work down the age categories on a national basis.

Tech and tragedy

Two tragedies have prompted coroners to call for urgent changes to computer systems in the hope that further suicides can be prevented.

The first case concerned the death of pharmacist Pardeep Singh Plahe, 32, who took his life last August after he became “increasingly concerned” about a physical health complaint he had attended accident and emergency for on three occasions. Clinicians told him he needed further tests, but there was no cause for immediate concern. Despite this, Mr Plahe still appeared “extremely anxious” to his family.

The inquest heard there was a “missed opportunity” to review Mr Plahe before he died, as a telephone appointment he had scheduled with his doctor was missed due to this fault in the EMIS system.

Area coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Emma Brown raised concerns that a fault in the EMIS computer system, which meant consultation lists were not being updated, could put lives at risk.

In a second case, area coroner for Manchester Zak Golombeck called for an update to be made to EMIS so that it can send an automated alert to patients reminding them to request and collect their prescription to improve compliance. It is not clear if this facility is available on other GP IT systems, but EMIS has indicated to HSJ that it thinks another approach would be better.

This second inquest was of 21-year-old Dyllon Milburn, who died by suicide in October 2019. His GP prescribed a high dose of the antidepressant sertraline despite Mr Milburn previously not taking the medication when prescribed. 

Mr Golombeck noted that, due to “limitations” with the IT system, his GP surgery could not ensure a repeat prescription had been requested and collected, despite this being “imperative” to his care.

Read the full story and EMIS’ response here.