What the newspapers said: Smarter organisation and failing students

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VACCINATION deployment, food parcel shame and failing university students were the topics raised by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Jenni Murray said her elderly neighbours – one aged 80 – had gone online to find their nearest vaccination hub was 10 miles away. He doesn’t drive and she gave it up after suffering severe knee pain.

“So, what were they going to do about the jab?,” she asked. “’Not going to any of them,’ was the somewhat terse response to my question.On Monday, another text, ‘Peter just rang our GP surgery; they have not been nominated to administer the vaccine.’”

She said it was baffling that a substantial health centre – which discharges the flu vaccine – couldn’t administer the Covid job.

“Please, make it easier. Bring in the Army, St John Ambulance, the GPs, the chemists,” she said. “Open up some of the office buildings that are empty as workers stay at home.It can’t be that hard to ensure vaccination centres are accessible. This virus will beat us if we can’t show we are smarter and better at organisation than it is.”

The Daily Express

Leo McKinstry said the pandemic had largely inspired solidarity and self sacrifice.

“[But]for some parts of corporate Britain, the emergency has served as an opportunity for exploitation at the expense of the taxpayer,” he said. “The incidence of greed has been highlighted this week in the bitter storm over the quality of food parcels provided during the lockdown to hard-pressed families who would normally receive free meals when schools are open. In some distressing cases, the contents have proved totally inadequate, despite generous funding from the Government.”

The company behind the package – Chartwells – has since apologised, he said.

“From next week families may be given vouchers so they can make their own spending decisions instead of relying on the caprice of indifferent caterers. That way, unlike Oliver Twist in the workhouse, they will be able to have more.”

The Guardian

Sonia Sodha said university students had fewer protections than package holiday customers, not entitled to refunds for their tuition fees.

“No one was expecting universities to be able to put on a normal experience during the pandemic,” she said. “But the response – we’ll pocket your fees and figure out the rest later – has been woeful.”

She said it was staggering the government had seen fit to treat students in such a way.

“Forget student radicalism: all they are asking for is the same protections we rightly extend to holiday customers. The government is happy to treat students as consumers when it supports their marketisation drive, less so when it might involve refunds.”

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