Police called after protesters intimidate staff and patients across Wigan Covid-19 vaccine centres

Protesters gathering outside vaccination centres across Wigan have been ‘intimidating staff and patients’, according to health chiefs in the borough.
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Police were also called to St Peter’s Pavilion on Monday evening where protesters were reported to be intimidating patients as they arrived.

Security has been stepped up at vaccination centres following these incidents.

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But Professor Kate Ardern, Wigan’s director of public health, said the protesters have not succeeded in putting patients off receiving the vaccine.

A vaccination centreA vaccination centre
A vaccination centre

Speaking to Wigan council’s health and social care scrutiny committee, Jonathan Kerry, an associate director of the borough’s clinical commissioning group (CCG), told councillors these developments have been ‘disappointing’.

He said: “Over the last couple of days we have started to see vaccination protesters at our sites.

“Leigh Sports Village had some protesters on Saturday morning causing quite a nuisance, intimidating the staff and the patients. There were a couple who also attended Pride.

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“This evening we’ve also got protesters in attendance at Hindley and at Leigh Sports Village, again, being intimidating to patients as they arrive – some of them children, some of them working age receiving their second dose.

“We’ve got staff on site. We’ve increased security across both sites.”

He added: “It’s quite frustrating given the positive benefits that the vaccination programme has seen.”

Prof Ardern said there were probably around ‘half a dozen’ protesters on site.

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It comes after the health chiefs updated the committee on the progress of the vaccination programme and the impact the pandemic is having on health care.

Councillors were told that the ‘direct consequences’ of the recent rise in Covid cases in the borough has reduced – but it is still having an impact on services.

There are currently 16 Covid-positive patients in hospitals run by the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, Prof Arden said.

In the last week, there have been three Covid-related deaths in the hospitals.

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Three care homes are experiencing Covid outbreaks, down from eight last week – but most of those cases are among staff rather than residents.

Kerry told the committee that 62 pc of the borough’s population has received a second dose of the coronavirus vaccine so far and 70 pc have had their first.

A quarter of 16 and 17-years-olds have also received their first dose already.

Deputy leader Keith Cunliffe, who is the portfolio holder for adult social care, commented on the recent incidents taking place outside vaccination centres.

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He said: “All these charts show you, whether you believe in vaccinations or not, the impact of vaccination has significantly reduced the number of people in hospitals and the number of deaths has reduced.

“Of course, you can say it’s a coincidence – but the evidence doesn’t point to that."