Posted Thursday 17 December 2020
Liberal Democrat leader and Kingston and Surbiton MP Sir Ed Davey has received a first-hand insight into the roll out of the coronavirus vaccination programme and the enormous efforts going into providing asymptomatic testing during a visit to Kingston University.
He toured two hubs set up at either end of the University's Penrhyn Road campus to provide vaccinations for borough residents aged over 80 and asymptomatic testing for students and staff in the run up to the winter break. He said he had been "bowled over" by the first class facilities and impressed at the way in which the University had stepped forward to play such a key role in the heart of the community, working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kingston, local GPs and medical centres in the fight against Covid-19.
Shown around the vaccination and testing centres by Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier, he made the most of the opportunity to speak to University staff involved in overseeing the two programmes, as well as to GPs from local surgeries and residents who had arrived to receive their vaccinations.
The testing centre is being run for students and staff not displaying any symptoms of coronavirus to enable them to take a Covid-19 test before seeing family and friends over the festive period. It was set up earlier this month in partnership with public health officials from Kingston Council. Next week it will be used as an asymptomatic testing site for secondary school pupils from across the borough, before reopening on 2 January when the University's students begin to return to campus.
Meanwhile, the vaccination hub, based in the University's Health Centre, is one of the first in London to offer the Pfizer BioNTech jab to high-risk groups in the community, starting with the over-80s. It was established after the University teamed up with local GPs and medical centres to offer a site where the borough's most vulnerable residents could receive coronavirus vaccinations.
Almost 1,000 patients over the age of 80 will receive their immunisations at the centre this week, with each of them returning in three weeks' time for a booster shot. The University has provided staff and student volunteers to help the process run as smoothly as possible, car parking spaces for patients and two breakout rooms where those receiving the vaccine can be observed by healthcare workers for a short time after their appointments.
Sir Ed said it was particularly pleasing to see the way Kingston University had been collaborating with local partners to support students, staff, and the wider community to minimise the spread of coronavirus. "I am delighted to see the University is working closely with the local community and NHS to provide first class facilities for students and staff to be tested and grateful that it will open up testing for local secondary schools next week to help our borough as we head into Christmas.
"It's also great to see the University work with local GPs to make sure the most vulnerable in our community have access to the coronavirus vaccine in the most efficient way and, from what I've observed, I have every faith in them helping to protect Kingston.
"Both the testing and vaccination centres are being run so efficiently and I hope other universities develop similar partnerships with their communities. I'm proud to see Kingston University leading the way, at the heart of our borough."
Professor Spier said he had been delighted to have had an opportunity to show the Liberal Democrat leader how committed the University was to doing everything it could to protect the health and wellbeing of its students, staff and the wider community in the face of the pandemic.
"We have placed the utmost importance on working in close partnership with public health officials from the Royal Borough of Kingston since coronavirus first emerged," he said. *Playing a key role in the launch of the Council's pilot testing programme and, more recently, providing a base for some of the very first Covid-19 vaccinations in the country to be dispensed, are ways in which we can continue to actively help implement measures to safeguard our local community."