By Julie Armstrong, Local Democracy Reporter
Published 18 December 2020, last updated 15 January 2021
Reigate and Redhill GPs have begun to give some of their most vulnerable patients protection from coronavirus.
Greystone House, Moat House and The Wall House surgeries are involved in vaccinating more than 1,000 people in the swiftly transformed former Canon building on Cockshot Hill.
Among those to get their first dose of the vaccine on Friday (18 December) were Reigate couple Iain and Patricia Todd, neither of whom have been able to see their grandchildren in person for months.
“I can’t remember when I saw them last, maybe June,” said Mr Todd, 89. “Hopefully we’ll be able to go away on holiday again too and enjoy the sunshine and the music.”
Immunity should kick in a week after having their second injection in three weeks’ time. In just four days, a multiagency team have managed to convert what was an office space into a safe clinical environment.
Dr Jonathan Leung, a GP at Redhill’s Greystone House Surgery, said: “We’ve had people coming out in droves offering to help, more than 100 in the last three days.
“There has been so much willingness to get involved. We’ve even had NHS consultants volunteering to do it.”
The carpets are gone, the rooms partitioned for privacy and there is even a new door to allow a one-way system. Everyone – staff, volunteers and patients – is delighted to be there.
“All of these people won’t have been out of their homes in a very long time,” said Dr Leung, also the clinical lead for the Covid vaccine in East Surrey and Sussex.
“Nobody has refused it. We had 288 people booked in at Saxonbrook [in Crawley] on Monday and the did not attend rate was zero – and that is unheard of.”
Those delivering the Pfizer vaccine, at the soon-to-be home of Surrey County Council, are working 12-hour days until their first supply runs out at midday on Sunday.
In this time they will be able to vaccinate 1,100 people, 125 more than previously thought, on NHS England advice that each vial contains enough for six jabs rather than five.
Mark Brunt, leader of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, said: “It’s been a real collaboration with all agencies pulling together.
“We’ve got mums being marshals in between the school runs, OAPs fit and healthy who want to help, workers who just want to get away from the Zoom calls.
“The volunteers aren’t getting vaccinated, they just want to help their community.”
Dr Pramit Patel, clinical director for the Care Collaborative Primary Care Network, said: “Communities coming together like this will stop us medicalising social issues. Only 20 per cent of our residents need a health-related focus.”
Dr Charlotte Canniff, clinical chair of Surrey Heartlands clinical commissioning group (CCG), added: “What an amazing effort, the number of hours that the primary care team and the council and CCG have put in.”
She urged people eager to get the vaccine to be patient: “Clearly we have priority groups, an order in which we are allowed to vaccinate,” she said. “Please wait to be called.”
A previous version of this article reported that Ian Todd would be safe to hug his grandchildren in a month. In fact, NHS guidance states that there is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine, and that it is important to continue to follow social distancing rules, and if you can, wear a face covering in places where it is hard to stay away from people. We are happy to clarify this.
NHS information on the vaccine can be found here.