A YORK MP has asked the Health Secretary to ensure everyone in and around the city has equal access to the coronavirus vaccine.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy asked Matt Hancock to ensure outlying communities do not receive it behind those in urban centres.

Vaccination in York is being organised across GP practices, with vaccination centres at Haxby Health Centre, and a mass vaccination site at Askham Bar managed by the Nimbuscare umbrella group of 11 York GP practices. Injections are also be arranged via care homes, and vaccination of staff and inpatients is taking place at York Hospital.

At Questions to the Secretary of State for Health, Julian Sturdy said: “The vaccination programme in York is making encouraging progress, with the first doses of the Oxford vaccine arriving last week, and Askham Bar and Haxby centres delivering injections in line with the priority list, which is fantastic news However, can the Minister reassure me that every care is being taken to ensure that smaller GP practices in rural areas are in no way disadvantaged in scheduling their patients for vaccination relative to the larger and urban practices?”

Mr Hancock replied: “Of course. Small or large, rural or urban, we need GPs to be vaccinating right across the country, and that’s what’s happening. We are organising this through what are called primary care networks, which are groups of GPs that cover between 30,000 and 50,000 patients, and the reason to do that is so that each of a group of GP practices can contribute some staff to the vaccination team so that they can carry on with the other vital work that they’re doing.

"So, these networks are of course larger in more sparsely populated parts of the country like North Yorkshire, but nevertheless that’s why we’ve put in place this commitment to everybody having a vaccination centre within 10 miles of where they live, to make sure that we do reach all parts.”

Afterwards, Julian Sturdy said: “The wonderful news that over 10,000 York residents have already had the vaccine as of Saturday, and last week’s approval of a third (Moderna) vaccine for UK use suggests we are making good progress on this, removing thousands of our medically vulnerable neighbours from the path of the virus, and the future pressure on our local health service that would come from them being infected.

"Given the many villages around York that make up much of my constituency, I felt it was vital to confirm that vaccination is proceeding based on medical need down the priority list, and will not depend on whether one is registered with a GP practice in a larger urban area, that might have greater capacity to run a logistical exercise on this scale.

"I am reassured by the firm confirmation from the Health Secretary that all areas are being properly covered through coordination between practices, and that the network of vaccination centres is being expanded to ensure easy access for all.

"Vaccination is the only way to protect our loves ones and begin to chart a course back towards normality, and we must make decisive progress to check the virus upsurge, and start to roll it back.”