At present vaccinations are taking place in hospital hubs; GP led vaccination services; roving services to care homes and the housebound; and in mass vaccination sites across the country.
Hospital hub vaccination services are up and running at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and the Eastbourne DG Hospital.
GP-led vaccination services are where the majority of the current population are being offered their vaccinations. In total in Sussex there are 15 sites which have gone live to date. In the majority, each service is supported by a number of GP practices (within their Primary Care Network footprint) working together to vaccinate their collective population. Currently in East Sussex, six GP-led vaccination services have gone live and have all started to vaccinate patients over the age of 80.
Roving service – the vaccine is being taken into care homes and into people’s own homes if they cannot attend a vaccination site. This is being stepped up over the coming weeks as more supplies of the vaccines become available.
I am afraid that the more challenging areas to set up vaccination centres in the constituency have been Rural Rother (which includes Battle) and Heathfield (including its surrounds). One notable town also needing another solution, albeit just outside the constituency, is Hailsham. I’ve been working with the Sussex Community NHS Foundation to provide a solution for Rural Rother, for Heathfield and surrounding villages.
Bexhill and surrounds:
The nearest site for Bexhill residents, and those nearby, is at Sidley Medical Practice.
This site will be vaccinating patients registered with the following GP practices:
Collington Surgery, Little Common Surgery, Pebham Surgery and Sidley Medical Practice
Pevensey and surrounds:
Hampden Park Health Centre, for patients at:
Arlington Road Surgery, Grove Road Surgery, Park Practice, Seaside Medical Centre, and The Lighthouse Medical Practice
Princes Park Health Centre, for patients at:
Harbour Medical Practice, Sovereign Practice, Stone Cross Surgery in Pevensey, and Downlands Medical Centre and Manor Park Surgery, both in Polegate
With the Bexhill and Pevensey area having a vaccination centre nearby, I concentrate on the areas which do not.
Rural Rother (including Battle)
For numerous reasons, it has not been possible to achieve a Primary Care Network solution in these parts therefore work has been taking place with the Sussex Community NHS Foundation and the local GP surgeries to agree a system to vaccinate their patients. I raised the lack of a solution for Rural Rother with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons at the beginning of January.
As a solution, rural Rother GP practices will be served by a vaccination hub at Etchingham village hall which is will begin its first vaccinations on 20 January.
The GP led vaccination service at Etchingham Village Hall is a partnership between Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and the following GP practices:
Fairfield Surgery, Ferry Road Health Centre, Martins Oak Surgery, Northiam and Broad Oak Surgery, Oldwood Surgery, Rye Medical Centre, and Sedlescombe and Westfield Surgeries.
Patients from those GP practices who are over the age of 80 will be the first to receive the vaccination from this service over the course of this week.
I have had a number of constituents contact me from Rother Levels asking why they need to travel to Etchingham. The reason is that the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at very low temperatures, which is why large sites needed to be set up to deliver a significant number of vaccines every day. This is also why people who are being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine need to travel to the hub to get the vaccine.
Whilst it’s great news that Etchingham will start vaccinating tomorrow, I am still pushing for a solution in Battle and rural Rother. I am working closely with our local NHS on an almost daily basis about further locations in the area, and how the vaccination can be offered from GP practices to make it as easy as possible for people to receive this vaccination. However, for this to be viable we need greater supplies of the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
I’ve asked the Vaccines Minister and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to consider a more simplified contract for GPs which is less onerous on opening hours and would see the GPs in this area take Astra Zeneca only. The Pfizer vaccines which have more challenging storage and transportation should be focussed at the bigger venues.
This is a fast-moving programme and there may be the option to provide the vaccine from more sites across our communities confirmed this week.
Heathfield and its surrounds
This week COVID-19 vaccinations will start for patients over the age of 80 from Heathfield Surgery.
They will be taking place this week and at the weekend for patients at the GP-led vaccination centre at The Meads Surgery and at some of GP practice sites in the Greater Wealden Primary Care Network.
It is expected that all of Heathfield Surgery’s patients aged over 80 will be vaccinated by the end of this week.
The vaccination team from the Meads have already covered care homes in the Heathfield area.
I have had a number of constituents contact me from Heathfield and its surrounding area asking why they need to travel to Uckfield. The reason is because the Primary Care Network covering this part of Wealden has identified Uckfield as the local centre to deliver the Pfizer vaccine. I am aware that Heathfield residents, and those from its surrounds, would like to be vaccinated nearer to home. I fully understand this sentiment and I share the aim for a further solution to be found as well. I hope to have further conversations with the NHS Foundation and the surgery to enable this to occur.
I’d like to thank everyone in the NHS for helping to find an interim solution. I’d also like to thank our Parish Council and residents for communicating and showing patience. I am sorry that residents have not received the vaccination as quickly as other parts of Sussex. I am assured that Sussex supplies will be aimed at finishing each priority cohort before moving to another so I fully expect our area to catch up.
If it is clear that Pfizer vaccines continue to be the chief supply, the Sussex Community NHS Foundation will need to assist in the opening of another centre within easier reach. This will require local action as well. I have already put forward the view to the Foundation that Heathfield needs a local centre given its large population size.
Punnetts Town, Rushlake Green & Dallington
A number of my constituents are registered with GP surgeries which are part of the Hailsham and District Primary Care Network (PCN). The latest information for these patients is as follows:
GPs from the three surgeries which serve Hailsham and its surrounds – Bridgeside Surgery, Hailsham Medical Group and The Quintins Medical Centre – are working in partnership with Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust to provide the vaccination to their patients, starting with those over the age of 80.
Vaccinations will be provided from three surgery sites in Hailsham from 23 January.
Priority will be given to the over 80 year olds.
Care homes registered with these GP surgeries will be vaccinated over this weekend.