Posted Friday 12 March 2021
A new community vaccination hub has opened its doors at Kingston University, providing a dedicated space where patients from up to six of the region's GP practices and health centres can receive their Covid-19 jabs.
Working in partnership with two local Primary Care Networks, South West London CCG and Kingston Council, the University has repurposed an area of its Penrhyn Road campus into a 10-station vaccination site. The new hub is an expansion of the vaccination operation at the University, which began in December with a smaller space in which GP teams were able to administer residents over the age of 80 with some of the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the capital.
Following a successful pilot in January, the new site provides a flexible, more spacious setting where healthcare workers from six GP practices - Fairhill Medical Practice, Kingston Health Centre, St Alban's Medical Centre, Berrylands Surgery, Canbury Medical Centre and Churchill Medical Centre - can work together to vaccinate patients. Three nearby lecture theatres have also been repurposed to provide waiting and observation areas, with on-site parking provided for patients attending their appointments.
Co-Clinical Director of the Kingston Primary Care Network Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, a GP at the University's partner Fairhill Medical Practice, said the new space would allow the vaccination effort to work more efficiently, in a patient-friendly way.
"Our partnership with Kingston University has been a huge success so far and we've had a fantastic response from those patients we've been able to offer the vaccine to already," he said. "Now, with this new space, GPs from several practices are able to work together in one place to vaccinate patients from all over Kingston and the surrounding areas much more quickly and really take things to the next level. It's been an incredibly challenging time for everyone, so being part of efforts that will hopefully lead to getting back to some semblance of normality is hugely rewarding."
After offering vaccinations to care home residents, the over-80s and healthcare workers, the practice teams have been working their way through the next priority groups, including the over 55s and those classed as clinically vulnerable.
With the healthcare teams receiving supplies of both the Pfizer/BionNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, the ability to work flexibly within a large space has proven hugely beneficial, Clinical Director of the Canbury Churchill Orchard Berrylands (CCOB) Primary Care Network Dr James Benton said.
"Everyone involved in the vaccination operation has really come together to provide the best possible service for our patients," Dr Benton, who is a GP at Canbury Medical Centre, said. "Being able to offer vaccine appointments at the University helps with some of the logistical challenges - particularly in relation to the storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine. We are also able to base staff involved in the vaccination programme at the University site while other team members continue to deliver our usual GP services from the practice locations, so we're very grateful for the University's support."
The University's Acting Director of Public Affairs and Insight, Jen Edwards, said the institution took its role in helping to support the public health effort and keep the wider community as safe as possible during the pandemic extremely seriously.
"In a public health crisis, it's vital everyone plays their part and it's been fantastic to see how thrilled so many local residents have been to be coming into the University to receive the vaccine," she said. "Through this partnership we have been able to provide space and logistical support for our local GP practices, enabling them to deliver jabs to their patients safely and efficiently and help protect those most vulnerable as quickly as possible."
Dr Naz Jivani, lead GP for Kingston for South West London CCG said: "The Covid-19 vaccine roll-out is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has launched in its history and a key part of our success so far has been the support of our local partners.
"It's fantastic that we're now building on this support and expanding the vaccination service at sites like the University so we can offer more people the vaccine. We're really proud of all our staff and partners as we work together on this historic roll-out."