Every primary care network across north Cumbria is now delivering COVID-19 vaccines to over-80s and care home residents and staff.
There are eight networks – groups of GP practices working together in local areas – and the vaccine is now being delivered from nine locations.
The teams are also visiting local care homes and the homes of housebound patients and those with mobility issues, to ensure the most vulnerable residents get the vaccine.
Primary care teams, including GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists, healthcare workers, admin staff and a significant number of volunteers from a range of organisations, have worked together to get the new hubs up and running.
Dr Niall McGreevy, a GP in Workington and lead GP for the General Practice Provider Collaborative, said: “This is a huge effort from teams across north Cumbria.
“Everyone working in general practice has had a part to play and we simply could not have done it without the support of many, many volunteers.
“We know that people are incredibly grateful when they get the vaccine, many tell us they have barely left their homes since March and they see this as the first step towards getting back to some normality.
“General practice teams are well used to delivering vaccines, but this rollout has involved a significant amount of work to keep our patients and our staff as safe as we can, to make sure we can get as many of our most vulnerable patients through as quickly as we can.
My colleagues have put in a super human effort and all of our hubs were up and running by the end of last week, which is just remarkable in a few short weeks since the vaccine was given the go ahead.”
Volunteers have been vital in the rollout supporting patients, the NHS said, helping manage car parks with large numbers of people arriving for the vaccine and directing and supporting patients.
Ed Tallis, director of primary care for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This rollout has been a massive team effort and I can’t praise the flexibility of our primary care teams enough. They have been supported by volunteers right across the north of the county.
“I know in Cumbria we have a fantastic community that steps up when needed, and we have seen first-hand just how generous with their time our community has been.
“We are delighted so many people want to help out with the rollout of the COVID vaccinations and I know that their input has helped our primary care teams focus on the delivery.
“Volunteers have been absolutely vital to managing the safe delivery of the vaccine. Thank you to each and every one who has played a part in supporting this vaccination programme.”
Volunteers from a range of organisations have been supporting primary care teams. They include (but are not limited to):
- Blood Bikes Cumbria
- North West Ambulance Service First Responders
- Cockermouth Emergency Response Group
- Northern Fells Group
- Maryport Hug A Mug team
Anne Waggot-Knott was part of the Cockermouth Emergency Response Group.
She said: “It feels really good to be involved in something that might finally make a difference to this horrid situation.”
Mike Bradshaw and Karen Shankland, of Cockermouth, said: “This is one of the most important periods of time in our lives – we will do whatever you require.
“We enjoyed volunteering immensely. After seeing people into the car park and then watching them in wheelchairs, or with sticks, with all sorts of health problems, etc., going to get their chance of life in 2021…..very humbling.”
Kevin Walsh, of Rotary in Carlisle, supported Carlisle Network PCN and said: “We’ve had a steady stream of people and it is good to be able to help. Rotary is always looking for community activities to get involved in.”
On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed around one third of over-80s had been vaccinated across the UK.
Mr Tallis added: “You can help your GP teams with this massive piece of work.
“Please do not call your GP, you will not be able to book in, please wait to be contacted by the NHS.
“It will take some time to do even the first two priority cohorts. By calling you may make it harder for those with medical needs to get the help they need.”
North Cumbria has eight Primary Care Networks with a hub delivering the vaccine for all the member practices. They are:
- Brampton and Longtown PCN – Brampton Community Centre
- Carlisle Healthcare PCN – North Carlisle Medical Practice
- Carlisle Network PCN – Morton Surgery
- Cockermouth and Maryport PCN – Castlegate and Derwent Surgery (Cockermouth Community Hospital) and Maryport Rugby Club
- Copeland PCN – Flatt Walks Surgery
- Eden PCN – Penrith Hospital
- Keswick and Solway PCN – Wigton Hospital
- Workington PCN – Orchard House Surgery