UPDATE - JANUARY 15TH 2021 - COVID VACCINATION PROGRAMME
Finally we are able to share some news with you! The communications given out around the vaccine programme are tightly controlled by NHS England, and up until this week we have been asked to simply say “you will be contacted when a vaccine is available for you”. Thankfully that has now changed.
Locally the Pfizer vaccine began to be delivered at the end of December by local hospital hubs. Due to the complexity of the Pfizer vaccine, its cold-chain requirements and very short shelf-life, sites have to be able to give 1,000 doses within 3 days to the eligible cohorts. This is clearly very challenging, especially for small rural GP surgeries such as ours.
At the current time it is not possible for individual GP practices to deliver either the Pfizer or Astra Zeneca vaccine from their own premises to their own patients. This is a nation-wide directive. Instead, GP practices are working together as groupings (otherwise known as Primary Care Networks) of 45-50,000 patients to deliver the vaccine from one single site within that grouping, for all patients of the group of practices. We are pleased to announce our local vaccination hub will be in Doddington.
The Doddington site will become operational from Monday 18th January, but we still await confirmation regarding when our vaccine delivery will be. We will be notified at least 3 days before our vaccine is due to arrive, only then can we start to book patients in.
The vaccine priority groups (ie who gets called for a vaccine when) have been decided centrally by NHS England. We have absolutely no ability to alter to this or make exceptions. The first groups to be vaccinated are care home residents and staff, health and social care workers and social care workers, and the over 80s. As each cohort is completed, we can then begin calling those in the next priority group.
We are not allowed to offer a choice of vaccine. Again, this is a national mandate. Our priority has to be to ensure that no vaccine is wasted, and that every dose is given to an eligible patient.
We do know that automated booking systems will be used to help deal with the huge administrative burden of booking hundreds of vaccine appointments in an extremely tight timescale. Those with mobile phone numbers on their records will be contacted by text initially, therefore if we do not have a record of your current mobile number, please ensure you update us with your mobile number. As soon as we are able to book appointments for those in the first priority group, you will be contacted. Please DO NOT contact Reception about this until you are invited to do so.
For those patients without mobile numbers – please don’t worry. Our colleagues in West Cambs Federation are supporting us to contact patients, and they will be calling you via your landline number and inviting you for the vaccination on our behalf.
We encourage patients to organise their own transport to attend the vaccination hub where possible and we encourage family and friends to support anyone who needs help safely accessing their vital vaccination appointment.
However, if you need help with transport, Cambs County Council are centrally gathering information of DBS checked volunteer drivers county wide and patients can call Cambridgeshire Covid Hub: 0345 045 5219 to book (possibly free transport) once you have an appointment.
In addition there is:
Community Care Scheme Fenland – 07944 814156 (small fee to cover fuel)
FACT – 01354 661234 – specialist adapted vehicles (cost involved)
We know that this has been a very frustrating time for you all, and the lack of information has been questioned by some.
As we are sure you can imagine, we are desperate to get going with this work. This will inevitably have an impact on staffing levels at the Surgery over the next months, as clinicians and admin staff are needed to staff the vaccine centre whenever we are in receipt of vaccine delivery. We will do our very best to ensure that we strike a balance between continuing to provide care from our Surgery, and playing our part in the vital national vaccination effort.
Thank you very much.
Dr Ben Curtis
GP Partner, Ramsey Health Centre
Clinical Director, Fenland PCN