In a move that as important as any in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Emily Lawson is returning to run the Covid vaccination programme. Lawson headed up NHS England’s vaccination team during the rollout, and after its success, she was moved to take charge of the new Number 10 delivery unit. The hope was that she would bring the rollout mindset to public services more broadly.
The delivery unit, modelled on its Blair era predecessor, is meant to ensure that the government actually does what it says it is going to do. Such is its importance that Lawson addressed the first meeting of the newly reshuffled Cabinet. The fact that she is now going back to the rollout shows how worried ministers are about the booster programme. As Fraser Nelson quotes a minister saying in his Telegraph column today, ‘It’s now closer to NHS as normal… That’s not a good thing.’
Lawson’s move is recognition that nothing matters more for than getting through winter without having to impose restrictions. We will soon find out if Lawson can get the booster rollout running as smoothly as the initial vaccine programme. Whether she can do this or not will be key in determining whether or not the NHS can cope this winter.