The Best of Herefordshire Working Together
The national roll-out of the COVID vaccination has been a huge success story for the NHS. As at 17 April, around 33 million people have received their vaccinations, including more than 10 million who are now in receipt of both doses.
This success story has been repeated locally in Herefordshire where more than 100,000 first doses have been administered. In some age cohorts, close to 100% of those eligible have received their jabs.
Five Vaccination Sites run by Primary Care Networks and a Local Vaccination Centre run by Wye Valley Trust have been set up in various locations across the county since late December 2020. These have been responsible for the delivery of a large proportion of the vaccinations. However, this didn’t all happen by chance and certainly didn’t come about overnight. Instead, it was achieved thanks to painstaking and extensive planning and collaboration between many different partners.
Planning started back in September 2020
Towards the end of summer 2020, it became clear that an effective vaccination was likely to be available before the end of the year. It also became clear that local health and care providers would be required to take responsibility for the successful roll-out of this, the largest vaccination programme ever seen in the UK. Erica Hermon, Associate Director of Corporate Governance/Company Secretary at the Wye Valley NHS Trust explains:
“We started planning back in September 2020. We were told by NHS England how many venues we had to find – although this did keep changing. We were also sent a list of postcodes by the national team for possible hub locations – but this didn’t really match what we felt we needed as a county.
“My first port of call for help was the Council’s Election Team who are used to finding venues to accommodate large numbers of people. We then invited Gillian Pearson, PCN Manager at Taurus Healthcare, to join the team so that we could overlay that information with local Practice knowledge and requirements.”
Local knowledge and strong relationships were the key to success
Key to the success of the Herefordshire vaccination roll-out was this local knowledge. Also critical were the strong relationships already in place between health and care partners. Erica continues:
“Relationships were absolutely key. We are a small county. We know who to talk to, who can put you in touch with whom. Our approach was very ‘Herefordshire’. But that’s what was needed and which proved so invaluable to the successful roll-out of the vaccination programme."
Gillian Pearson, PCN Manager at Taurus Healthcare agrees:
“Sometimes, when we were setting up the sites, it really did come down to, ‘Do you know a man with a van’. Ian Baker, the Emergency Planning Manager at Herefordshire Council, had a vast amount of local knowledge as did Tristan Morgan, Security and Logistics Manager at the NHS Trust who made sure that everything was in place to be able to go live and start vaccinating safely. Both were critical to the success of the whole programme. We overcame any barriers and all worked collectively to make sure this happened.”
On New Year's Day 2021, 1,170 jabs were delivered
One of the biggest days of the vaccination programme so far was held on New Year’s Day when 1,170 health and social care staff came for their first jabs at the Leominster Hub.
“That day was manic. What we achieved was truly a joint effort between General Practice, Wye Valley Trust, Herefordshire Council and all of our local volunteers including friends, family and the local community. We were learning as we went along. Erica, Ian and I all rolled up our sleeves. Ian and I sanitised chairs whilst Erica booked people in for their 2nd doses. People did whatever needed to be done!”
“At the beginning everything was new, but as we’ve gone along it’s become more run of the mill, though there’s still very much a sense of team working. If we have a problem, it’s a problem for us all and together we get it sorted.”
The best of Herefordshire
As the pandemic recedes and we move towards Integrated Care Systems and the requirement for increased collaboration and partnership across the health and care system, the experiences of setting up and running the PCN hubs will be invaluable. Strong relationships between Herefordshire partners were already in place before the pandemic, but increased joint working has enabled these to be further cemented. Not only does this include those mentioned, but also the PCNs, emergency services, voluntary sector partners and many others.
“It really was the very best of Herefordshire working together as one.”
10th May 2021
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