Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:47 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 6:47 pm, 12th January 2021

I refer the hon. Lady to the in-depth answer on exactly that point that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave during Health and Social Care questions this morning, when he said that there is no national shortage of oxygen in the system. He explicitly outlined the challenges and what is being done to mitigate them.

Pharmacists are being brought online, as are many other parts of our system, including all the staff working hard behind the scenes to keep vital services going and to keep people safe. I reiterate that all front-facing health and social care staff in category 2 can access vaccines, including all dentists and their teams; I think nurses and optometrists were the other professions mentioned during the course of the debate.

We are entering a critical period in our fight against this virus. As my hon. Friend Ben Everitt said, there are challenging days ahead—we are not there yet. We are dealing with a new, more transmissible variant of this virus that risks overwhelming our NHS, so we had to put in place these tough but vital rules to slow the spread of the virus. I know how hard these rules have been, not only for those we are asking to follow them but for most of us—it goes to our very core. We did not come into politics to stop people doing things.