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Unsung heroes of the covid vaccination

Unsung heroes of the covid vaccination
24 February 2021

Over 160,000 people have so far received their first dose of a covid vaccine in Sheffield, something that wouldn’t be possible without the support of non-medical staff working in GP practices across the city.

These unsung heroes are the practice managers, receptionists and administration staff from Sheffield GP practices who have gone above and beyond their daily duties to arrange appointments for people in the 6 priority groups, that are currently being vaccinated.

They are also on hand at the 15 vaccination sites in the city, to assist people as they arrive and throughout their time there. 

A feedback survey, by NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), found that 95% of people who responded rated their overall experience of receiving a vaccination as ‘very good’.

Melanie Pickering, Reception Manager at Sothall Medical Practice, and her colleagues are part of the operation to vaccinate patients at the Beighton Medical Centre.

She said: “We’ve taken it in turns to be there, often spending hours in the freezing cold to help people. Back in the office we’ve continued our normal surgery duties, as well as ringing hundreds of patients to get them booked in.”

Elderly and vulnerable people, who make up most of the eligible patients, are more likely not to have access to the internet or text messages, to receive information about appointments, so staff have given up weekends and evenings to call them at home.

Many of the people contacted by Birley Health Centre were experiencing isolation and loneliness because of lockdown and welcomed the chance to speak to someone.

Kiz Haigh, Practice Manager at Birley Health Centre, said: “The patients that we contacted had been shielding for months, and just simply chatting through the simple things, like what they were having for lunch or what to watch on the TV lifted their spirits. Our staff has worked tirelessly to ensure patients receive their vaccination as soon as they become available and we’ve received some amazing feedback from patients.”

Kiz Haigh

 

One of the challenges faced by the GP practices is encouraging black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to have the vaccination. At the Hanover and Devonshire Green Medical Centres their Somali Link Worker, Hodo Maalin, has been key to increasing uptake.  

Deirdre Malesa, Business Manager for the centres, said: “Hodo has got in touch and spoken individually to our Somali patients and discussed vaccination with them, to try and allay their fears and dispel any myths. As frontline staff Hodo herself was vaccinated back in January and she has shared her own experience with patients. This has definitely brought us some success in getting people booked in to the vaccination centre. It is an ongoing piece of work and Hodo's role is invaluable in this.”

Alun Windle, Chief Nurse and Covid Vaccination Lead at NHS Sheffield CCG, said: “The covid vaccination programme is one of the largest in the history of the NHS and I’d like to pay tribute to our staff and thank them for their commitment and hard work. They are doing an incredible job in continuing to provide healthcare at their surgeries, and at the same time ensuring thousands of people receive their vaccination.”

Although the NHS has now started vaccinating new cohorts of patients, those over 70, clinically extremely vulnerable or a frontline ealth and social care worker, and yet to have the vaccine for whatever reason, can still book their vaccination appointment online at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/ or call the free number on 119.

It’s not yet known if the vaccine will stop people catching and passing on the virus but it will reduce their chance of becoming seriously ill from covid-19. The guidance is the same for everyone who has been vaccinated, to continue to follow social distancing guidance, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask when in public.

 

NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

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