Posted: 11.01.21 at 16:05 by By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter for Derbyshire
Frustrated Swadlincote GPs hope to start rolling out Covid-19 vaccines from this week and say patients do not have to travel to Birmingham for their jabs.
Dr James Betteridge-Sorby, a GP at Swadlincote Surgery, said in a video posted on the centre’s Facebook page late last night (January 10) that they shared the frustrations of local residents waiting on Covid-19 vaccines.
This comes as Derby Arena started giving vaccines for patients at 30 Derby GP surgeries from Thursday, January 7 and 18 GP practices in East Staffordshire started offering Covid jabs from the Pirelli Stadium in Burton on Wednesday, December 16.
The Swadlincote GP said that supply is being led nationally and that local GPs, such as himself, had no control and would like to see a timely roll-out of the jabs and evenly spread across the country.
Dr Betteridge-Sorby also said that he had his own personal concerns about not having been vaccinated against the virus yet, with fears for the safety of his patients and family.
He urged patients not to call the town’s GP practices asking for access to the Covid-19 vaccine because this may “delay care being given to our most sick patients”.
Dr Betteridge-Sorby said the Swadlincote GPs hoped to start administering the Covid-19 vaccine from the end of this week at Oaklands Village in the town.
This would include patients from all five surgeries in the town: Gresleydale Surgery, Heartwood Medical Practice, Newhall Surgery, Swadlincote Surgery and Woodville Surgery.
Dr Betteridge-Sorby said: “We have had no control whatsoever as to when higher NHS authorities make a supply of vaccines available to ourselves.
“We are well aware of the frustration caused by the knowledge that practices in our immediate vicinity, such as Burton, are already vaccinating at Burton Albion (the Pirelli Stadium) and that practices in Derby are already vaccinating at the Derby Arena.
“It is our hope and expectation that we will begin to receive limited supplies of the vaccine towards the end of this week and the five surgeries will be working collaboratively to identify eligible patients across all our patient populations and invite them for a vaccination at a centralised location within the large public areas of Oaklands village, as and when supplies allow.
“We are aware some people may have received letters directly from NHS England. I stress these are not from our surgeries, these are from a central NHS body, inviting eligible patients to have a vaccination at a mass vaccination site elsewhere in the country – the nearest to us being in Birmingham.
“If you receive such a letter, it is up to you and or your family member to weigh up the pros and cons of embarking on a long journey to receive a vaccine, potentially, at an earlier date than supply is made available for our own delivery here in Swadlincote.
“On a personal level, there is nothing that I would desire more than an abundance of vaccines that were administered equitably across the country in a timely manner.
“Whilst I remain unvaccinated myself, I carry the burden of wondering what risk I place to my patients at work and also my family when I return home.
“Local vaccines are coming. There is no compulsion to travel out of area for a coronavirus vaccine, though you may choose to do so, if you feel that is right for you.
“It is not ideal. We recognise that as much as you do and while it is not a situation of our own making, we, as your local network of surgeries, are working as hard as possible to protect our patients as soon as possible.”
Swadlincote Surgery has advised patients without their own transport – who would need to use public transport to get to Birmingham – that the safest option at this time would be to continue to shield at home and wait until a vaccination is available locally.
NHS England was approached for comment. It deferred to the Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
A CCG spokesperson said: “The Covid-19 vaccination programme is being rolled out across Derbyshire in several phases, with each primary care network (PCN) setting up vaccination sites to serve patients cared for by the GP practices within the PCN.
“Since the announcement of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in early December, staff have set up nine such PCN sites with several more due to open this week, as well as the two hospital hubs in Derby and Chesterfield.
“This rate of opening sites is down to the hard work of staff across multiple organisations, and is based on many factors, including the availability of vaccine supplies.
“This work has been going on across the county, including at sites which have not yet opened, and we are incredibly proud of the efforts of everyone involved. We ask that people remain patient and not contact their GP until they have an appointment.”