Reader’s letter: Grateful for vaccination, but jab service less than efficient

From: Retired consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, High Street, Westham

My wife and I were grateful to be offered our fourth covid jab and duly booked by telephone to ensure both appointments were for the same interval

I was sorry to hear that the Princes Park Medical Centre had now been replaced as they were on time, efficient, and very professional issuing us with the usual card to which was stuck the date, type, and batch number for each of our inoculations.

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Each time we attended there had been modifications to the visit which improved an already excellent service.

Covid-19 Vaccination Centre at Sovereign Harbour (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-211028-100501008

We were sent to the Crumbles Vaccination Centre and were worried about arriving 30 minutes before our appointments only to find a long queue snaking around two-and-a-half sides of the building. Composed of elderly individuals who all had appointments, although one was told he did not, having described a previous visit in detail when there was no vaccine and his instruction to attend that Friday. Eventually, he was forced to leave in high dudgeon which did not seem to fit with the ideal of ‘jabbing’ as many people as possible, but he was ‘not on the list’, and that had to be obeyed rather than the common sense one would have thought might prevail in the circumstances.

There were a lot of banners around advertising the service by ‘sdhc’, eventually explained on the way out by its full title of ‘South Downs Health Care’ which seems to be part of the Hampden Park Practice, which suggested a change of contract holder.

The queue took an hour and 20 minutes to progress to the registration desk, rather than the 30 minutes we were occasionally updated on as being to official waiting time.

Once one reached the entry door to the hall there were mobile plastic chairs available for those who by now really did require them, but outside in the wind there were none and the organisers were aware of both the length of the queue and the weather situation outside, luckily it was not raining.

The vaccination was smoothly administered by a volunteer who whilst being efficient and pleasant was not able to provide the previously typed information strip, confirming only that our surgery would be informed, or if we wished to have personal proof of the procedure and vaccine type/batch code we could ring 196 and obtain a certificate.

He did apologise for the delay stating they had not been busy earlier in the week, but today everybody seemed to have turned up. But, we did have appointments!

I appreciate mass vaccination schemes are less than easy to organise, and this country does them very well, as epitomised by the annual flu vaccinations carried out so efficiently at GP surgeries across the country and found at Princes Park GP Surgery previously, so it does seem a shame that an admirable service seems to have been replaced by a functional but less thoughtful one.

Balloons and other visual effects were not really required, but a bit of thought and a line of chairs would have been appreciated.

The British have always accepted queueing as a part of life but also appreciated those administrators who made it as safe and comfortable as possible.

Luckily the weather was dry on this occasion and the walls protected us from a cold winds worse effects.’

Brian Valentine

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