AN MP has branded the Covid-19 vaccination rollout as “shambolic” after many constituents had appointments for their first of two jabs cancelled because of delivery delays.

The Government has said it expects to offer a vaccine to more than 13 million people in the top four priority groups by mid-February.

But North Durham MP Kevan Jones said the delivery of vaccines to Chester-le-Street had been put back three times from the original date of December 16, before they started arriving today.

This had left people in the priority groups still waiting for their first dose and the area playing catch-up with other parts of the country.

Mr Jones called on the Government to be “honest and realistic” with the public because failing to meet promises puts added strain on vulnerable patients and health services.

In a letter to vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi, Mr Jones said: “Public health messages need to be clear, consistent and above all honest.

“In order to make the rollout of the vaccine work, the Government should be honest and realistic about the timescales required and stop raising people’s expectations, putting unnecessary pressure on an already hard-working primary care system.”

Earlier this week, Mr Jones’ office took calls from “a slew” of constituents who expected to receive their first dose on Tuesday but had their appointments cancelled at short notice.

A spokesperson for the MP said this had caused anxiety for patients, left frontline workers such as care home staff vulnerable and wasted hours of GP practice’s time making rearrangements.

Mr Jones added: “Local GPs in Primary Care have put in place extensive plans to administer the vaccine, but this is not being helped by vaccines that do not arrive, or by the Government’s raising of expectations which cannot be met.

“This shambolic approach by the Government is putting great pressure on primary care by organising and then cancelling hundreds of appointments and practices being inundated with enquiries asking when individuals will receive the vaccine, all fuelled by the Government’s over-hyped promises.”

Mr Jones also raised concerns about the number of vaccines available in the constituency, where 975 vaccines were expected yesterday to cover seven GP practices and around 400 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, which is easier to transport than the Pfizer/BioNTech one, to cover all care homes in the area.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the “rate-limiting” factor in efforts to get people vaccinated is supply from the manufacturers.