Former vaccine chief will return to NHS role amid concern over booster jabs rollout

Emily Lawson previously led the operational delivery of the coronavirus vaccination programme

The senior official credited with the early success of the Covid vaccine rollout in England is returning to the NHS to resume her role overseeing the programme, months after leaving to become the head of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street delivery unit.

Emily Lawson is ending her secondment at No 10 to return to NHS England amid concern that the rollout of booster jabs in England is flagging.

Earlier this week Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, told Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of NHS England, that the rollout needed to be “turbocharged” because numbers were too low, especially with Covid infections rising sharply again.

In a statement first reported by the Health Service Journal, Pritchard said: “It is great news that Emily has agreed to return to lead the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme as our response to the pandemic enters another crucial phase.”

Lawson had joined No 10 to head up the delivery unit set up by the prime minister to try to ensure that government policy commitments in key areas were being turned into action.

On Friday, she said: “The next phase of the vaccination programme is extremely important. We know that the vaccine is helping us to save lives and so we must focus all of our efforts on rolling out the booster campaign to everyone eligible, as well as ensuring that everyone who has not yet had their first jab, including young people, gets the chance to come forward.”

Briefings in newspapers attributed to government sources have criticised the NHS for not getting more jabs delivered fast enough. NHS England said this week that more than 4 million people have had a booster jab in just over a month.

Johnson again urged people to come forward for their boosters. In a video posted on Twitter on Friday, he said: “I wanted to just emphasise how important it is to come forward and get your booster jab against Covid, if and when you get the call.”

Contributor

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Boris Johnson to confirm Covid booster jabs for over-50s in UK
Programme follows approval of vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds and is aimed at heading off winter rise in infections

Aubrey Allegretti and Peter Walker

13, Sep, 2021 @9:30 PM

Article image
Complacency slowing England’s Covid booster jabs rollout, says NHS leader
Ruth Rankine says people are less motivated to get top-up dose as restrictions have eased

Denis Campbell and Ian Sample

20, Oct, 2021 @3:09 PM

Article image
Ministers to ramp up Covid vaccine rollout as hospitalisations rise
Two million to receive invitation for booster jab as figures for England suggest slight increase in uptake

Andrew Gregory Health editor

24, Oct, 2021 @11:01 PM

Article image
Jeremy Hunt calls for shorter wait for Covid booster jabs before Christmas
Relaxing six-month gap between second and third doses would speed up rollout, says former health secretary

Jessica Elgot

21, Oct, 2021 @1:02 PM

Article image
UK Covid: Van-Tam says AstraZeneca vaccine’s risk v benefit is finely balanced for younger people – as it happened
Deputy chief medical officer says benefits for older age groups clear, but adults under 30 should be offered an alternative to AstraZeneca jab

Andrew Sparrow

07, Apr, 2021 @5:24 PM

Article image
NHS leaders raise concerns over pace of Covid vaccine rollout
Exclusive: more than half of hospital trusts in England yet to receive supplies as variant spreads

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

22, Dec, 2020 @7:31 PM

Article image
Charities say Covid booster rollout for immunosuppressed is ‘chaotic failure’
More than half of those with compromised immune systems yet to be contacted for third vaccine dose

Peter Walker and Nicola Davis

15, Oct, 2021 @5:01 AM

Article image
Boris Johnson stresses Covid vaccine safety as tensions with NHS spill over
Ministers accused of ‘moving goalposts’ and wrongly taking credit for success of immunisation programme

Denis Campbell and Heather Stewart

18, Mar, 2021 @8:45 PM

Article image
Covid booster jabs could be brought forward as UK daily cases hit 52,000
MPs voice frustration to new vaccines minister about ‘stalling’ programme in England

Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot

21, Oct, 2021 @11:01 PM

Article image
What changes have been announced for Covid booster jabs in UK?
All adults over 18 will be offered a third dose as part of bid to tackle spread of Omicron variant

Peter Walker and Andrew Gregory

29, Nov, 2021 @7:01 PM