A cancer patient who was given just nine months to live has called on the government to “urgently” review the order of priority for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to give quicker help to people who are terminally ill.
Fred Banning, 38, who was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in February, is campaigning to move terminally ill people up the list so they can spend more of the “finite time” they have left with their families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant terminally ill patients have been unable to spend much time with their loved ones due to their increased health risks and the shielding and social distancing guidelines.
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Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told Sky News the government was reviewing how the “most vulnerable and those in clinically difficult positions can be vaccinated”.
The vaccine rollout started in the UK on Tuesday – with people aged over 80 along with health and social care workers receiving the jab first.
Mr Banning, a married father of two young children, started chemotherapy in March and was told that without treatment he would have just months to live.
He says he wants to be able to see all of his family.
Speaking from East Renfrewshire, he told Sky News: “It’s all about really trying to spend as much time as is possible with them given the various constraints that we’ve had over the last several months.
“What I’m looking for at this stage now is urgently to speak with the health secretary Matt Hancock. Has palliative care and those undergoing palliative care been properly considered and fully considered in this vaccine rollout?
“I’m under no illusions that this means that life would go instantly back to normal for any of us, but early vaccination I think would just personally enable me to spend more time with people like my parents and like my brothers than I’m able to currently.
“When you do feel that you have a finite time left to you, the difference of say a couple of months in when you get vaccinated is actually really, really significant – that could be a really significant proportion of what time you have left available to you.
“I think there is something here that really needs to be looked at.”
Mr Banning said 12 charities had recently signed an open letter to The Times backing the points that he had been making.
He added: “What I’d really like to see more of is some urgency around this. There has been some progress in Scottish parliament – I’d have to say, Westminster has been a tougher nut to crack.
“I think partly the issue is that people perhaps don’t fully appreciate the urgency for people in this kind of a situation.”
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