The truth is that the vaccine roll-out has not worked as well as it might for the vulnerable of London. In West Ham, it has been about age. We are one of the youngest areas in Europe and we have had the highest excess deaths. The numbers in the highest-priority groups, especially the over-70s and 80s, are low; consequently, our areas were allocated vaccine supplies at a level far below what could have been delivered. We have had disproportionately large numbers with clinical vulnerabilities—illness linked to higher levels of deprivation—but they were in the top four priority groups, so clinicians have only just started to vaccinate them.
Sky News found that Newham had the highest excess deaths in the UK between March and mid-January. Some 15 of the top 20 areas for excess deaths are in London. Local clinicians have constantly called for the flexibility to vaccinate younger people with clinical vulnerabilities, and I know that Ministers will remember that I have echoed those calls. However, I am not here just to complain, because I am very grateful that Ministers and officials have listened, and I am hopeful that London CCGs will be given greater flexibility to deliver second jabs. More than anything, we have to focus on the role of deprivation, because it is the major barrier to speedy vaccinations.
GP data is limited in areas such as mine because people move, from one short private rental to another, over and again, and so many are in temporary accommodation. Those in poverty and insecure work are less likely to be able to keep their phone contracts and hang on to the same number, which makes it hard when so many vaccine appointments are organised by text. People do not have access to broadband or mobile data, and the consequences are clear.
For the affluent group in DQ5, uptake has been 60%. For the most deprived group, DQ1, it has been just 37%, and it drops at each step, from DQ5 to DQ1. We must find better ways to address this, because we are letting down the vulnerable and it is hindering our collective ability to fight this virus. I would therefore like to hear more from the Minister today about how we will tackle this.
But I do not want to finish without heaping massive praise on our NHS locally—our fantastic local GPs, our local public health teams and all our volunteers. I genuinely cannot thank them enough. They are working together with such tenacity and extraordinary commitment, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.