Family doctors in Devon will begin giving the coronavirus vaccine to local people from today (Tuesday, 15 December), as the NHS continues its phased roll-out of the vaccination programme.
GP practices are working in groups to set up local vaccination centres for their patients, which will open in phases over coming weeks.
The first phase of GP-led vaccination centres in Devon will see the opening of eight sites serving 49 of the county’s practices.
But local people are also being reminded they should not contact their practice or hospital to ask about an appointment – the NHS will contact you when it’s your turn.
As well as using NHS locations like GP surgeries and health centres, some local vaccination centres are being opened in more unusual venues. In Devon, these specially adapted sites include Exmouth Tennis and Fitness Centre, The Staddy function centre in Plymouth, and the Riviera International Centre in Torquay.
The eight locations in Devon’s first wave of local vaccination centres will see nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff working alongside doctors to vaccinate people aged over 80 and care home workers, who have been identified as priority groups for a life-saving vaccination.
In Devon, the eight sites in the first phase are:
- Abbey Surgery, Tavistock
- Exmouth Tennis and Fitness Centre
- Limes Surgery, Exminster
- Okehampton Medical Centre
- Riviera International Centre, Torquay
- St Boniface House, near Buckfastleigh
- Seaton Community Hospital
- The Staddy function centre, Plymouth
Between them, the sites will vaccinate people from 49 of the county’s GP practices.
At Exmouth Tennis and Fitness Centre, patients from 10 local practices will be vaccinated from Tuesday onwards in specially adapted clinical facilities positioned on one of the indoor courts.
Dr Barry Coakley, a GP and Clinical Director of Woodbury, Exmouth and Budleigh (WEB) Primary Care Network, who is among those leading the set-up of the centre, said: “We feel honoured to play our part in this wonderful national COVID vaccination programme.
“As soon as the opportunity arose, the teams from all ten practices have come together, working with great skill and efficiency, seizing the moment to ensure that these lifesaving vaccinations are delivered to our communities.
“We would like to thank all those who have been waiting patiently to be contacted for their invitation. We are working through our patient lists in order, as set out in the national guidance, and will make contact with everyone who is eligible in due course.”
Four GP practices are working together to open the local vaccination centre at The Staddy, Plymouth.
Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, a GP and Clinical Director of Mewstone Primary Care Network which serves Plymstock, Yealmpton and Wembury, said: “The Staddy is a well known local venue with plenty of space to safely set up the specialist clinical facilities we need for the programme.
“This is the most significant vaccination programme ever undertaken by the NHS and we are eager to play our part in protecting people against coronavirus and saving lives and livelihoods.”
More local vaccination centres run by family doctors will open in coming weeks across the county as the roll-out of the greatest vaccination programme in NHS history expands out of hospital hubs.
Simon Jolly, managing director of Riviera International Conference Centre, where patients from ten local practices are being vaccinated, added: “We were really happy to be able to put the Riviera International Centre forward as a venue for COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s an honour to be able to support such a vital project.”
Darryn Allcorn, Devon’s lead chief nurse, said: “We’re working seven days a week to make sure eligible people in Devon a vital vaccine as soon as possible.
“As a nurse I am proud to be part of this huge national effort to protect our patients against the virus and I would urge people in Devon to come forward when they are called up for the vaccine.
“I can reassure everyone that the NHS will be in touch with you when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. Contacting your local hospital or practice only slows us down as it takes up precious time and resources to respond to the calls.”
The local vaccination sites are using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, building on the work of the scores of hospital hubs which have already started vaccinating.
At Exmouth Tennis and Fitness Centre, which is run by LED Community Leisure, play continues on the courts not being used by the local vaccination centre.