Chichester MP visits vaccination hub at Westgate Centre

The MP for Chichester has paid a visit to the new vaccine hub at the Westgate Centre to give her thanks to staff and volunteers.

Gillian Keegan MP with the team at the Westgate Centre
Gillian Keegan MP with the team at the Westgate Centre

Gillian Keegan toured the site last week, meeting a range of people working on the vaccination roll-out, which include several former cabin crew usually based out of Gatwick Airport and many retired nurses and doctors who have returned to support the effort.

The centre is now vaccinating 1,000 people per day, with appointments booked up weeks in advance.

People over the age of 65 and those who are clinically vulnerable are currently being vaccinated.

Gillian Keegan MP with the team at the Westgate Centre

Ms Keegan said: “The team are simply fantastic, and all of us in Chichester are so grateful to all the entire NHS team, and all the volunteers who are working tirelessly to keep us safe.

“It has been a massive challenge to get another centre off the ground, but as always, the NHS has come through for us and it is wonderful to see the result.

“I especially want to thank Siobhan Melia, Chief Executive of Sussex Community Foundation Trust, and her team on the ground; Fiona, Duane, and Michelle who are running the site so expertly.

“As well as, Eileen Lintill and the Chichester District Council who offered the Westgate Centre to the NHS commissioners to be used as our new hub, and the Everyone Active team who are working closely with the NHS to ensure the gym and the hub can work side-by-side as things open up again. Thank you everyone!”

Gillian Keegan MP with the team at the Westgate Centre

Her visit comes as preparations to reopen the leisure facilities at the Westgate Centre begin, following the roadmap announcement last week.

The centre, which is managed by sports and leisure operator Everyone Active in partnership with Chichester District Council, will reopen all leisure facilities including the gym and swimming pool from as early as 12 April – subject to government guidelines.

Everyone Active procedures will ensure social distancing is managed throughout the centres and regular cleaning is maintained.

Full details about which Everyone Active facilities can reopen in each government step and the latest guidance can be found on their website here.

The centres’ sports hall will continue to be utilised as a vaccination centre to support the NHS on a temporary basis following its launch on 10 February, a spokesman said.

Stuart Mills, Everyone Active’s contract manager, said: “As a vital part of the community, we welcome the Government’s latest guidance and steps to reopening leisure facilities and sports activities.

“Our centres will offer people the opportunity to resume physical activity and exercise, which will go a long way to maintaining the mental wellbeing and good health of the local communities.

“We’re delighted to be able to continue our support for the NHS and all the fantastic work they’re doing.

“We want to do all we can to support the fight against coronavirus and our site will continue to offer valuable capacity to help provide vaccinations at this time.

“Ensuring our colleagues and customers remain safe is our priority and we have carefully considered the strict measurements to ensure we adhere to the guidance.”

Councillor Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Community Services and Culture at Chichester District Council, said: “In light of the current lockdown, looking after our physical and mental wellbeing is especially important.

“We know that many people will have missed having access to leisure facilities and so we are very pleased that Westgate Leisure Centre will be ready to reopen as soon as the Government guidance allows.

“As a council, we work closely with Everyone Active to ensure that we continue to provide high quality sport and leisure facilities across our district.

“The leisure centre offers a variety of different services and activities to help people of all ages and abilities keep healthy and active.

“We hope people will take the opportunity to come and use these facilities again as soon as they can. Please support and use your local leisure centres.”

The latest figures show Chichester saw 53 new virus cases in the week from Feburary 20 to 26 – which was 32 less than during the previous seven days.

That gives it a rate of 44 cases per 100,000 people, lower than the average area in England, which had 77.