Westminster vaccine bus

The low take-up for the Covid vaccine in Westminster was in part due to modelling overstating the population and incorrect figures, a report has found.

Rather than just being due to a higher number of refuseniks, data showing a lower than average vaccination rate in Westminster was partly a result of the older population being overestimated and younger groups underestimated, according to an independent inquiry commissioned by Westminster Council.

Government data has consistently shown Westminster as one of the boroughs with the lowest vaccination rate nationally, with just 60% of residents given a first jab and well under half having received a booster dose.

The investigation, conducted by Professor Jim Manthorpe CBE, found that there was difficulty contacting all patients and therefore establishing accurate vaccination rates, and that statistics had assumed that the Westminster population was 24% larger than it actually was in March 2021.

It said: “In relation to Covid-19 vaccination data, WCC has acknowledged that vaccine take-up appears low compared to national figures but has also pointed to substantial uncertainty about the accuracy of these figures.

“This relates to the mobility and diversity of the local population (within the UK and internationally), second home availability, use of private healthcare, and accuracy of GP data on NHS registered patients.

“Clearly census data also have problems of completeness, but they do suggest lack of confidence in vaccine statistics.”

Many of the issues with collecting population data were identified as London-wide, such as ethnicity of vaccine recipients.

But the study did show that the Council was effective in communicating irregularities in vaccine figures to central government, as well as working with schools to keep them open during the pandemic.

Manthorpe’s report concluded that the local response to Covid was as effective as it could have been given the unprecedented circumstances.

He wrote: “I saw evidence and confirmed in conversations with stakeholders of systems and processes that worked as well as they could in an unprecedented time and consistent as well as significant efforts to respond to disparities with some clear examples of innovation such as provision of air purification systems to all local care homes.

“WCC’s response clearly built on many long-standing initiatives and ways of working such as community engagement and effective working practices with its neighbours and local NHS bodies.”

Image: Westminster Council.

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