Message From Gillian Keegan MP to Chichester Resident

The message below was received by a local resident from our MP, Gillian Keegan.

“I am delighted that three vaccines have now been approved for use in the UK, with the Moderna vaccine receiving regulatory approval today, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine now being rolled out across the Country. It was welcome news that The Princess Royal Hospital in Sussex was one of the first in the country to use the new AstraZeneca vaccine. This really is a momentous development and, while there is still some way to go, it provides fresh hope that we can beat this pandemic.

I know that many people are keen to receive the vaccine as soon as possible and I have noted your concerns about progress locally. I have held regular meetings with local healthcare leaders on the roll out of the vaccine in the Chichester district and across the wider area. Facilitating the roll out is a huge task not least as both of the approved vaccines must be used quickly and venues must be big enough to allow for social distancing. The NHS has decades of experience in rolling out successful widespread vaccination programmes and has put in place extensive deployment plans. The vaccine is being delivered through hospital hubs; through local community services, including GPs; through roving services to care homes and individuals who are housebound; and, in due course, pharmacies; and vaccination centres across the country, for example at sports centres or conference centres. Our local NHS teams are working extremely hard to ensure the roll out of the vaccine across Sussex is done safely and as quickly as possible given the strict guidelines in place.

It is fantastic news that vaccinations began before Christmas at Worthing Hospital and as of this week, both Worthing and St Richard’s Hospitals have dedicated vaccination hubs which are operating 6 days a week 8am-5pm on weekdays, 8am-2pm on Saturdays and 2 evenings a week until 8pm. Vaccinations have also begun at East Surrey Hospital and, as mentioned, the Princess Royal Hospital.

GP-led vaccination services are also already available at 8 sites in West Sussex including; Angmering at Angmering Medical Centre, Crawley at Leacroft Surgery and Saxonbrook Medical Centre, Haywards Heath at Perrymount Road Site, Horsham at Park Surgery and Christ’s Hospital Blue Coats, Pullborough at Pullborough Medical Group and Storrington at The Glebe. A further 5 sites have begun vaccinating this week including; Bognor Regis at Bognor Medical Centre, Worthing at Strand Medical Group and Durrington Health Centre, Shoreham by Sea at Northbourne Medical Centre and Crawley at Poundhill Medical Practice.  In areas where GP practices have not signed up to lead the vaccination programme, the Sussex NHS Commissioners are working closely with the Primary Care Networks and Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust to provide a service to these patients.

There are further sites expected shortly in Chichester, Midhurst, Worthing, Lancing, East Grinstead, and Littlehampton/Rustington, which are currently subject to final approvals. I am, of course, in frequent contact with the Commissioners in order to keep up to date with progress in the constituency.

It is right that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems. I welcome the work that the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has done to ensure this. Recipients are invited for vaccination based on priority in line with the guidance from the JCVI. Some constituents have contacted me to let me know they have not yet received notification. I have made the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and the Sussex NHS Commissioners aware and they have assured me that people will be contacted in due course and nobody in the priority categories should be concerned as it is still early days in the deployment process. I will continue to liaise with them about this and monitor the situation closely. As you will be aware, the NHS is committed to vaccinating everyone in the top four priority groups by February 15th.

The GP-led hubs are expected to cover 60% of care homes in Sussex and the remainder will be served by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust vaccination teams. The first 8 care homes in Sussex have now been vaccinated. The NHS, local authorities, acute hospitals and community services have worked together to draw up a prioritisation schedule for the order in which Sussex care homes will receive the vaccine and this will be aligned with the availability of the vaccine to work towards the goal of getting all Sussex care homes vaccinated by the end of January. I have been working closely with the Commissioners to ensure that care homes are being kept up to date and supported.

As you will be aware the army are working to support the NHS and our local councils to set up and support our vaccination network, which is being led by Brigadier Prosser. The Prime Minster will be publishing our full vaccine deployment plan on Monday, as well as daily updates on the progress that is being made.

As the roll out is progressing rapidly, I am in the process of setting up a dedicated page on my website, which will be up and running next week, where you will be able to find the latest developments and useful information. You will be able to view it at: www.gilliankeegan.com “