COVID-19 highlighted the lack of spare capacity in the NHS in terms of beds, resources and staffing. The Nightingale hospitals were a triumph of Army capabilities, but most lie unused because there is nobody to staff them. The development of a vaccine spotlighted the high calibre of our scientific and research communities but who was going to administer the inoculations? Right from the beginning of the pandemic thousands of doctors, some recently retired and some more established in retirement, volunteered their services. The opportunity of drawing on this massed goodwill and talent presented itself for the taking. Unfortunately, the experience of most volunteering doctors has been a lack of response, a failure of their offers being followed up or a promise to be ‚’in touch‚’ never fulfilled. Those who have been contacted have faced a bureaucratic assault course of modules to complete – 21 according to The Times for those offering to be vaccinators. They ranged from the sensible (vaccine administration, management of anaphylaxis) to the unnecessary, (data security, equality and diversity, safeguarding children) and to the ridiculous (conflict resolution, preventing radicalization). These hurdles have been presented at the very time volunteers are needed in the vaccination clinics rather than during the 9 months that could have been used for preparation. As a result, many doctors have given up, rather saddened by realizing that the bureaucracy from which some sought refuge in taking retirement is still hindering their response to a crisis.
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