Thursday, January 14, 2021

Coronavirus 48 My MP

I started the year writing to my MP:

Friday 1 January 2021

Dear Victoria Atkins,

I write to you on a matter of extreme urgency and would appreciate an immediate response.

Last night a member of my family, wrote to me thus:

"I received my first dose yesterday, booster (was?) booked in ~3 weeks.
Didn’t count on being thrown in to an unregistered trial without
evidence or medical oversight. Nor did I consent to receiving an
off-label drug with no evidence of benefit from one dose.
Of course the government were going to cock this up, predictable
delays/lost data etc...but I didn’t expect them to overrule the license
for political expediency."

He is a hospital doctor, an anaesthetist, who works in intensive care.
His work is keeping covid patients alive. His responsibility is to
keep himself informed of the medical science that relates to his work.

When a consent form is signed, a legal contract is entered. This
contract has now been broken, unilaterally, by the Government.

Please represent my concern to the Minister, Mr Hancock, today and do
your best to ensure that the Government honours its contract.

I await your prompt action and look forward to your response.


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Now I know there is debate about whether changing the vaccination protocol from 3 to 12 weeks for the 2nd dose is a good idea in terms of lives saved, but that is not the subject of my letter. My concern was here limited to the narrow issue of the contract between patient and the NHS created by the consent form. Anyway, on the 4th of January I received this reply to my 'urgent' email of the 1st, not from Ms Atkins but from one Christopher Reid, who signs himself 'Senior Caseworker, Office of Victoria Atkins'

Christopher Reid <Chris.Reid@parliament.uk>
Jan 4, 2021, 11:39 AM

Dear Mr Vernon,
Thank you for taking the time to contact Victoria Atkins MP about the coronavirus vaccine.
With your permission, could we instead suggest that Victoria contact Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, on your behalf, and ask them to look into this for you.
To assist with this, could we ask if we could please share your email with them?
We look forward to hearing from you.
Yours Sincerely,
Christopher Reid

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I replied the same day thus:

Dear Mr Reid,
You may share my e-mail address with whosoever you see fit, but since my question was essentially legal in nature, concerning a broken contract, I did expect Ms Atkins would have the competency to deal with the matter herself, directly.
I look forward to hearing from her..

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And he replied:
Dear Mr Vernon,
Thank you for your response.
Apologies but I meant the contents of your email rather than the email address, is that still okay?
MPs are unable to give legal advice, so Victoria would not really be able to comment on the legal validity of a contract.
As soon as we hear back from the Minister we will of course let you know.
************************************************

I replied again:

Dear Mr Reid
Yes, you may share the contents too. There wouldn't be much point in just sharing the address!
No, I was not looking for legal advice. As I wrote, my question was essentially legal in nature, concerning a broken contract, and therefore within the competence of Ms Atkins to act upon. I am sure that she can see that a contract exists between anyone giving consent to a particular medical procedure, in this case my family member, and the Health Service acting on behalf of the Government.
Last Friday I wrote: Please represent my concern to the Minister, Mr Hancock, today and do your best to ensure that the Government honours its contract.
That request still stands and I look forward to hearing from Ms Atkins whether she has managed to obtain the assurance of the Minister that the contract will be honoured, rather than broken.

***********************************************

He replied the next morning, the 5th of January:

Dear Mr Vernon,
Thank you for your response.
Just to clarify, we were suggesting Victoria raise this with the Minister responsible for the vaccine rollout, Nadhim Zahawi, rather than the Secretary of State as the likelihood is all that would do would be delay getting a response, as it would have to be passed to the responsible minister anyway.
As soon as we hear back, we will of course let you know.
Yours Sincerely,
Christopher Reid
************************************************

Dear Mr Reid,

It has been 10 days since you wrote "...  we will of course let you know"  but I have not heard from you. I remind you that it was on the 1st of January that I wrote to Ms Atkins, "on a matter of extreme urgency". I asked her to  "represent my concern to the Minister, Mr Hancock, today and do your best to ensure that the Government honours its contract."

I am disappointed that Ms Atkins appears not to have done this and that she and you appear to have misconstrued my request and decided to approach a different minister. The lack of adequate response calls into question the work of an MP in their relationship with a constituent.

You will, no doubt, be aware that Joan Bakewell, the former government appointed 'Voice of Older People', has instructed her lawyers to write to Mr Hancock. Her concern is the same as mine. Her letter outlines three potential grounds for a judicial review into the vaccination policy, which she sets out thus:

"Breach of the conditions of authorisation: the NHS Letter instructed health care professionals to act in a manner that appears to be contrary to the instructions for use that had been agreed between the MHRA and Pfizer.
Unlawful to depart from MHRA’s assessment: the evidence in granting temporary approval to the vaccine was sufficient in establishing effectiveness for 21 days (or at most 28 days). The MHRA is the body designated by law to determine such issues and it does not appear there was a proper or lawful basis for the government to depart from its assessment.  
Breach of legitimate expectations: it was clear from published documents and publicly made statements that the second dose would be administered 21 days after the first dose. Patients consented to a course of medical treatment on that understanding. The instruction contained in the NHS Letter breached these expectations and undermined their informed consent to the first dose."


I repeat what I wrote two weeks ago:  "Please represent my concern to the Minister, Mr Hancock, today and do your best to ensure that the Government honours its contract." Unfortunately, since it is two weeks since I raised the matter, there is now no possibility that the contract will be honoured, but at least the failure so to do can be mitigated by prompt action now.

I await your prompt action and look forward to your response.  
************************************************

Of course if and when I hear back from 'The office of Victoria Atkins' I will post more.

Meanwhile, people may like to support Joan Bakewell:

Article from Independent.

***************************************
Update, a few hours after sharing on the social media:

15/01/2021 9.09:AM
Dear Mr Vernon, 

Thank you for your response. 

We have not yet heard back from the Minister about this matter, however we know the Department is receiving a lot of correspondence at the moment so please understand it will be a matter of weeks rather than days before they respond. 

As requested Victoria will also write to the Secretary of State about this matter. 

Yours Sincerely,
 
Christopher Reid
Senior Caseworker
Office of Victoria Atkins 
Member of Parliament for Louth & Horncastle
Parliamentary Under Secretary for Safeguarding 
******************************************
Update 2, a week later. 10.26pm 21/01/2021
Dear Mr Reid
Another week has gone by and I have heard nothing from you or from Ms Atkins.
Why is this?  
You wrote "Victoria will also write to the Secretary of State about this matter."
Has Mr Hancock replied to her?


9:10 AM 22/01/2021
Dear Mr Vernon, 

Thank you for your response. 

Yes, Victoria wrote to the Secretary of State on Friday. 

As we said before, the Department is receiving a lot of correspondence at the moment so please understand it will be a matter of weeks rather than days before they respond. 

As soon as we do get a response, Victoria will pass this on to you.

Yours Sincerely,
 
Christopher Reid
****************************************************************
So I wrote back again....  7.47pm 22/01/2021

Dear Mr Reid.

That the Department for Health receives a lot of correspondence is hardly surprising but is not my concern. Doubtless the Secretary of State has the power to hire sufficient staff to deal with his department's workload.
That the Secretary of State will not deal promptly with urgent correspondence from a minister at the Home Office is something that is beyond my understanding.
I remind you that I made my urgent request to Ms Atkins on the 1st of January. It is now the 22nd. I expect better.

Yours sincerely

*************************************
23/01/2021
My correspondence with my MP, or at least with someone in her office, has focussed on the narrow point of the breaking of a contract created when a member of my family signed a consent form for a medical treatment that involved two injections three weeks apart.
It is, however, interesting to note the increasing attention being given to doctors' misgivings.
Here are three pieces in this morning's news:
World Health Organisation
Pulse
BBC News
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