A London property investment company has apologised and admitted it offered £5,000 to a Bristol doctors’ surgery to buy any spare coronavirus vaccines they had left over.
The Hacking Trust said it wanted the vaccines for its staff, but said its offer had been misinterpreted by the GP practice manager in Bristol who went on Twitter to complain about it.
Robyn Clark said she received an email from The Hacking Trust, one of the City of London’s top property acquisition companies, which offered to make a £5,000 donation to a charity of her choice, ‘or to any named individual’, in return for any spare vaccines she may have.
Ms Clark is the practice manager at Kingswood Health Centre, one of the biggest GP practices in east Bristol.
She wrote on Twitter, with tweets which were later deleted, about the approach, which she described as ‘taking vaccines from the vulnerable’.
She wrote: “Just received an email from The Hacking Trust offering £5,000 as a charitable donation or to a specific individual at my practice if we give their staff any unused vaccine.
“As if I’m not going to call every eligible patient I can find, followed by healthcare staff in my patch, followed by other high risk patients before a company involved in property purchases and corporate acquisitions based in London. I mean really?!” she added.
There are logistical issues with the Pfizer vaccine, which are limiting the shelf-life of the vaccine doses. Because it has to be stored at -70degC and because it comes in packs of around 800 and only lasts outside that deep freeze for a limited amount of time, those administering the vaccine have reported that some are left over.
In Bristol, NHS staff at the city’s hospitals are regularly receiving notifications of spare vaccines at the end of a batch initially intended for the over-80s, so they can receive their jab, while in Nottingham, it was reported yesterday that a small number of police officers answered a plea to emergency service personnel from their local health trust to be vaccinated so the last few from a big batch didn’t go to waste.
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But the email offering £5,000 from a London property investment company offered to effectively buy any spare vaccine doses – in return for a ‘donation’.
The Hacking Trust is the trading name of The Hacking Partnerships Plc, and on its website describes itself as the ‘market leader in its sector’, and said it specialises in purchasing residential and commercial properties.
“The Hacking Trust is a market leader in its sector and acts as principal for its own investment. Our skill is structuring deals with expert legal and financial backing enabling us to get things done professionally and efficiently,” its website said.
“We have a strong team with extensive property knowledge. We structure the acquisition by either a property acquisition or corporate acquisition where we procure the legal entity that owns the property,” it added.
In a statement to Bristol Live, the company confirmed it had made the offer.
“The Hacking Health Trust has offered, in open correspondence to some GPs, charitable donations to staff or surgeries in this difficult time for any vaccines which were unused,” a spokesperson said.
“We had heard that some vaccines were being unused due to missed appointments.
“We would apologise that our good intentions have been misinterpreted,” he added.
According to The Telegraph, an email from an address for The Hacking Trust’s Health Division had introduced itself in the email sent to around 20 GP surgeries as a ‘private medical company… looking to vaccinate their front-line staff as soon as possible”.
The mail, with the subject line “Unused vaccine reward”, continued: “We require approx 20 vaccinations and we understand you are operating a Covid-19 vaccination centre. We have been informed that many appointments are not kept and some do not attend at all.
“On this basis we would like to be informed as soon as possible of any ‘no shows’ or cancellations on any given day which would result in unnecessary wastage of the vaccination. We will donate to the individual the sum of £5,000 for each successful vaccine for our staff members. This can be paid either as a charitable donation or to the staff member directly.
“We are able to attend within a few hours following a telephone call or email response. I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency to discuss.”
After confirmation that the email was genuine, Kingswood’s practice manager said she had deleted the original tweets to give the company the benefit of the doubt.
“They have since released a statement to say it was a misunderstanding but that the email was genuine. Make of that what you will,” she said.
Ms Clark is a founding member of the Institute of General Practice Managers, a nationwide industry body for the people who run doctors’ surgeries and health centres.
“The IGPM are appalled that a company would offer money in any capacity to effectively jump the queue for a vaccine. Practices are doing their utmost to ensure vaccine is given to the priority groups as laid out by the JCVI, as these are the most vulnerable in our society. The NHS is free and equitable to patients, always will be,” she added.
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