Royal Mail has revealed 28 delivery ‘blackspots’ across Britain which are suffering from limited postal services as more of its workforce is affected by Covid-19.
Thousands of people living in the zones, which cover sections of London, Essex, Kent, Suffolk, Somerset and Yorkshire are only getting limited deliveries.
With some affected residents complaining of not having had mail delivered for more than a month, fears have also arisen that elderly residents will not receive notifications of when a coronavirus vaccine is available to them.
The affected areas include 13 in or near London, while others include Leeds in West Yorkshire, Chelmsford in Essex, Widnes in Cheshire and Margate in Kent.
Some 130,000 letters have already been sent to people aged 80 or older and 500,000 more are due to be sent out this week.
The Royal Mail has revealed there are 28 delivery ‘blackspots’ across the UK which are suffering from limited postal services as more of its workforce is affected by Covid-19
Thousands of people living in the zones, which cover large sections of London, the south east and Leeds, are only getting limited deliveries
Hainault resident Valerie Wallbank told the Ilford Recorder she had not received any mail since December 12.
It is understood that in the run-up to Christmas, as much as 40 per cent of the postal workforce in the area was off sick or self-isolating.
Royal Mail’s full list of 28 affected areas
- Ashford (TN23-TN27)
- Barnsley (S70, S71, S72 and S75)
- Basildon (SS13-SS16)
- Bow (E3)
- Bury St Edmunds (IP28-IP33)
- Chelmsford (CM1-CM3)
- Christchurch (BH23)
- Daventry (NN11)
- Debden (IG7-IG10)
- Enfield (EN1-EN3)
- Grays (RM16-RM20)
- Hampton (TW12)
- Highbury (N5)
- Hornsey (N8)
- Horsham (RH12, RH13)
- Ilford (IG1-IG6)
- Leeds City (LS1-LS5)
- Lewisham (SE13)
- Magherafelt (BT45, BT46)
- Margate (CT7-CT9)
- Rugeley (WS15)
- Somerton (TA11)
- South Ockendon (RM15)
- South Woodford (E18)
- Upper Holloway (N7)
- Wandsworth (SW18)
- Wellington (TA21)
- Widnes (WA8)
‘It’s quite serious,’ she told the paper. ‘Some people are not bothered because they do everything online but for some of us it’s quite important.’
The issue has prompted calls, including from MPs and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), for postal workers to be added to the priority list of people receiving coronavirus vaccinations.
In a statement published with the list on its website, Royal Mail said it was ‘working hard to deliver the most comprehensive and high quality service we can to all our customers’.
‘The combination of greatly increased uptake of online shopping, and the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, mean that all delivery companies are experiencing exceptionally high volumes,’ the statement said.
‘Despite our best efforts and significant investment in extra resource, some customers may experience slightly longer delivery timescales than our usual service standards.
‘This is due to the exceptionally high volumes we are seeing, exacerbated by the coronavirus-related measures we have put in place in local mail centres and delivery offices to keep our people and customers safe. In such cases, we always work hard to get back to providing our usual level of service as quickly as we can.’
Ilford MP Wes Streeting said while it was understandable that Royal Mail was being affected by the virus, the problems were having ‘a serious knock-on impact on people getting important NHS correspondence, both about their vaccination and also other routine appointments’.
‘I have been told locally that Royal Mail are prioritising the delivery of parcels to get the backlog down, but I wonder if there is a way for NHS correspondence to be clearly labelled as such and prioritised for delivery,’ Mr Streeting told The Daily Telegraph.
With some affected residents complaining of not having had mail delivered for more than a month, fears have also arisen that elderly residents will not receive notifications of when a coronavirus vaccine is available to them
‘No one wants to see a situation where people are missing their vaccination appointments.’
On its website, Royal Mail advises people in the regions who have been left a ‘Something for you’ card from the service to check its website to learn revised opening hours for when they can collect the item.
‘If we’ve not left a ”Something for you card”, and you do not have alternative arrangements in place, we’re sorry that your mail will not be available for collection,’ the advice says.
The Department of Health said it was working with the Royal Mail to ensure vaccination invitation letters were reaching the public, ‘but patients should also get a phone call, email or text inviting them for an appointment’.
NHS Test and Trace app boss Simon Thompson becomes Royal Mail’s new chief executive
Simon Thompson has been appointed as as the new chief executive of Royal Mail
Royal Mail has appointed the boss of the NHS Test and Trace app, Simon Thompson, as its next chief executive.
The company told investors that the former Ocado executive, who has been managing director of the NHS Test and Trace app during the pandemic, will take up the role with immediate effect.
It comes almost eight months after previous boss Rico Back announced his departure from the postal giant after less than two years at the helm.
Mr Thompson’s appointment comes after a tumultuous year for Royal Mail, which last month agreed a pay deal with the Communication Workers Union (CWU), ending a two-year dispute.
The move is part of a raft of leadership changes which also sees Keith Williams, who had led the company as executive chairman since May, move into a non-executive role.
Royal Mail said Martin Seidenberg, chief executive of logistics firm GLS, will join the board from April.
Mr Thompson said: ‘Against the backdrop of a challenging year, our colleagues have once again demonstrated the invaluable service they provide for our communities up and down the country.
‘Looking ahead, we need to build on the great trust we have on the doorstep. We need to develop a razor-sharp focus on the customer, making sure our services are delivering exactly what our customers need and want. And we need to explore new opportunities for growth.
‘We now have a unique opportunity to grow our business, and I look forward to working with our colleagues and stakeholders to take this great company forward.’
Mr Williams said: ‘Royal Mail in the UK is in a period of significant transition and needs to move quickly, put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and adapt our business to better serve changing customer needs.
‘Simon has been a non-executive director of the group since November 2017 and already has significant knowledge of the group and its operations.
‘He also has a wealth of experience, both in digital transformation and customer experience, and is ideally placed to lead the opportunity to grow and expand our UK parcels business and to meet our customers’ needs across both letters and parcels.’