The majority of the over-80s, and care home residents and staff, from across the Alton area have already received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine – either at the Hampshire Court Hotel in Basingstoke, or the mobile teams who have been visiting care homes and those who cannot travel. Those who are still waiting will be receiving an invitation this week.
Most will go to Basingstoke, but those who cannot make the journey will have arrangements made more locally, at one of the Alton GP surgeries.
Local GPs plan to repeat that approach as they work their way down through the age groups – getting the vast majority of people vaccinated early at the main site, but then using a combination of mobile teams and home visits to deliver vaccines more locally to ensure the most vulnerable and least mobile people do not miss out.
Dr Natalie Smith, Bentley GP and the clinical director for the A31 Primary Care Network, said: “We have heard loud and clear that people want a local service, and we are trying to find the best way possible to balance that understandable desire with the need to run a super-efficient system which can vaccinate large numbers of people at scale and as quickly as possible.
“We hope that this gives us the right mix – we still keep the main site as the focus because that is what will get the most people protected quickly, but we also make sure there is a more local offer for those who cannot travel, or who really struggle to make it to Basingstoke. So far that approach is working well - people have responded brilliantly, and we are on track to meet, and beat, the government’s target for reaching the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.
“The positive response of patients and their families, and the hard work of staff, means that actually there will only be a few patients in the over 80 cohort who need a more local solution – for this older age group we will be able to complete their vaccinations before the end of January, which shows how well the system has been working.”
Dr Matt Nisbet, GP and Clinical Lead for Business and Partnerships at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of CCGs, said: “We know that no single system is perfect for everyone, and we also know that we cannot leave any area disadvantaged. We have been monitoring the numbers closely, to make sure that people in areas like Alton are not being missed, despite what is obviously a tricky journey for some.
“Thankfully, the numbers tell us that the system is working really well for all areas, including Alton. But it is clearly right that we put in some extra local support so that that the most vulnerable people – those who will benefit most – can be protected as conveniently as possible.”