Brightling – vaccination arrangements

This is an extract from the recent newsletter of Huw Merriman, our MP (the full article is here)

The Prime Minister has pledged that residents should not need to travel greater than 10 miles to receive a vaccine. There are sites in Eastbourne, Lewes, Bexhill and Uckfield vaccinating local East Sussex residents. During this week, a GP-led vaccination service went live at The Hastings Centre, Kings Church, located on The Ridge in Hastings.

I am afraid that the weak spots 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.

Rural Rother (including Battle)

For numerous reasons, we have not had a working Primary Care Network solution in these parts hence work has been taking place with the Sussex Community NHS Foundation and the local GP surgeries. 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 expected to go live this Friday 15 January. The Etchingham vaccine centre will be run by those within the Sussex Community NHS Foundation who have stepped up to help and our local GP teams. If your GP is within this area, you will expect to receive your vaccine at Etchingham. I have had a number of constituents contact me from Rother Levels asking why they need to travel to Etchingham. The reason is because Etchingham has been set up to handle the Pfizer vaccine logistics and because surgeries within the area have not been able to sign up to deliver the Pfizer vaccine. The aim is to ensure that stocks of Astra Zeneca get delivered so residents can receive this vaccination at a more local level.

If supplies of the Astra Zeneca vaccine are supplied, these could be taken from Etchingham to your local GP for you to be vaccinated at the surgery. For this to happen, your GP must have signed up to the Enhanced Service Contract. Given the time to sign has closed, I have asked the Vaccines Minister to urgently allow GPs further time to sign up now that the Astra Zeneca option gives more GPs the scope to vaccinate locally.

If it is clear that Pfizer vaccines continue to be the chief supply, I will be keen for the Sussex Community NHS Foundation to assist in the opening of another centre within easier reach. This will require local action as well.