University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has now given out an amazing 128,000 COVID-19 vaccinations and is encouraging everyone to get double jabbed to ensure that all are protected.
UHMBT says it is hugely important to have two COVID-19 jabs as the more contagious ‘Delta variant’ continues to spread across the UK, with daily case rates currently at around 45,000.
UHMBT’s COVID-19 vaccinations have been delivered through three hospital vaccination hubs and three large-scale vaccination centres across Morecambe Bay.
“The light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel”, “hugely inspiring”, “a ray of hope”, “incredibly emotional”, “amazing” and “joyous” is how various members of staff have described the vaccination work.
UHMBT has been working closely with members of the Lancashire Resilience Forum (LRF) and the Cumbria Resilience Forum (CRF) to respond swiftly and effectively to the pandemic. The LRF and CRF are continuing to support the vaccination programme as getting double jabbed as as important as ever to protect the public and the NHS. Second doses of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines all offer the best protection against the virus and work against variants, including the Delta variant.
Lancashire and South Cumbria COVID-19 Vaccination Director, Jane Scattergood, said: “We are now inviting everyone over 18 to bring their second dose appointment forward to eight weeks to ensure everyone has the strongest possible protection as soon as possible.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are two-dose vaccines so you must have both doses for maximum benefit and protection to you, your friends and your family. And to those who have not yet come forward for the vaccine – it is not too late to change your mind. We will continue to make the offer available across all of our vaccination sites and with many offering walk-in appointments, getting your vaccine is easier than ever.”
For more information on the Lancashire and South Cumbria Vaccination Programme, visit www.healthierlsc.co.uk/covidvaccination
Almost 8.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have so far been delivered in the North West since the vaccination programme first started – the largest in NHS history.
As part of this work, teams, individuals and volunteers from across UHMBT have worked tirelessly since December 2020 to vaccinate staff, partner organisations and the public against the virus. Behind the scenes, the Trust’s teams moved mountains to set up the hubs as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
Colleagues at the Trust first started receiving the Pfizer Vaccine in December 2020 and the Oxford Astra Zeneca Vaccine followed in January 2021.
The UHMBT hospital vaccination hubs at Furness General Hospital (FGH), Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) for NHS staff were set up in a matter of just a few days at the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020.
Three public large-scale vaccination centres were also set up by the Trust in partnership with Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership, the Armed Forces, Cumbrian GPs, hospital pharmacists, councils, educational institutions and other health and care organisations at Lancaster Town Hall, the GSK Sports and Leisure Club in Ulverston and the Westmorland Shopping Centre in Kendal. The large-scale vaccination centres are still fully operational and everyone aged 18 and over can book to be vaccinated there.
The teams of vaccinators and support staff in the hospital hubs were made up of Trust colleagues doing extra shifts, redeployed staff, volunteers from local communities and retired or former staff who kindly came back to help with the battle against the virus. Developed by the UHMBT Information, Innovation and Informatics (I3) Team, the Trust’s highly effective in-house hospital vaccination booking system was adopted by some hospital partner organisations in the North West.
Dr Sarah Hauxwell, UHMBT Clinical Director and Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccination programme for the UHMBT hospital and community sites, said: “Our vaccination programme has been incredibly successful in that we have been able to vaccinate our population and offer people protection against COVID-19 - particularly against the worst effects of COVID-19.
“It’s not to say that people are not going to get COVID, but what we can say is that if this does happen, we feel better about what that will mean for them.
“It has been challenging and it has been something where the ‘ask’ has changed a lot. It has changed rapidly and as the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, we have evolved with it. We’ve had to be very reactive and dynamic.
“People have been working long hours and in evenings and at weekends in order for this to be delivered successfully to our population. Largely, the public have responded incredibly well to it. It has been a real privilege to start vaccinating our population.
“It has been an amazing experience for everyone working in the hospital hubs and large-scale vaccination centres. They have all understood the importance of this unprecedented vaccination programme and what this has meant for us as a country. I think people have gone above and beyond to do what they needed to do. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to support the organisation in delivering the vaccination programme for our population.
“I would urge as many people as possible who are eligible for their vaccinations to get both of their doses because that’s important to enable us to get out of lockdown safely.”
Ian Roberts, Hannah John and Gill Speight from UHMBT have been overseeing the work of the large-scale vaccination centres at Lancaster, Kendal and Ulverston.
Ian, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Department and Clinical Service Manager for the large-scale vaccination centres, said: “It has been incredibly joyous working with everyone in the large-scale vaccination centres; there’s a hugely positive vibe. Everyone has pulled together and there has been a real community spirit. It has been lovely to see it in operation.
“Hannah and I started working as vaccinators and we had worked in the hospital hubs as well. There are so many people who have come from different jobs such as vets, dentists, midwives, pharmacists, the Trust’s I3 Team, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Estates Team, the Security Team, tradespeople, St John’s Ambulance and the Armed Forces. It has brought a lot of professionals together who wouldn’t normally be in contact with each other.
“When the large-scale vaccination centres started in February of 2021, it was the over 80s in the local population who were vaccinated first and many of them had not been out of their homes for months. There was a celebratory atmosphere at that time. We still need people to work in the large-scale vaccination centres and would be happy to hear from anyone who is interested.”
Clare Hill, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Clinical Lead and Matron for UHMBT, said: “As we see our hospital vaccination hubs go into ‘hibernation’, I have been reflecting on how inspirational the last eight months have been.
“This has never been a one-person job; the project has involved many hands and without them we would have struggled to provide the care, compassion and success to so many people within the Morecambe Bay area.
“Our colleagues at UHMBT are all truly remarkable and I want to say ‘thank you’ to them for everything that they achieved.”
The work of the hospital vaccination hubs ties in with one of UHMBT’s ‘Key Areas of Focus’ for 2021 to 2022; the ‘psychological and physical wellbeing of colleagues’. The health and wellbeing of colleagues has always been a priority at UHMBT but now, more than ever, the Trust is working to keep it’s workforce as well as possible at work and at home.
Similarly, the work of the large-scale vaccination centres links to another of UHMBT Key Areas of Focus; quality and safety. UHMBT believes that everyone who uses the Trust’s facilities should expect to receive consistently high standards of safe care.
Joann Morse, who retired as Director of Nursing for Community Services and Deputy Chief Nurse at UHMBT in September of 2020, came out for retirement to be a flu vaccinator and then became a COVID-19 vaccinator. Joann initially worked in the hospital vaccination hubs and is now working at the large-scale vaccination centres.
Joann said: “I’ve just completed 40 years of my nursing career and I’ve never experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been unprecedented in the sense that it has all been unknown.
“I started doing COVID-19 vaccinations in the hospital hubs at the beginning of January. What was really great about the hospital vaccination hubs was that you were working with different groups of staff. There were physios, pharmacists, IT colleagues, midwives, operating department practitioners, pharmacists and many others. There was a great sense of teamwork.
“Many of those staff found it refreshing to be working in an environment that wasn’t as pressured and with people who weren’t extremely sick. What was nice was that they were able to meet people who’d had COVID-19, made a full recovery and were coming for their vaccinations. Staff had seen a lot of death and a lot of illness so the vaccination programme was massively positive for them.
“I have to say that our Occupational Health team and the admin teams were amazing. They just rose to the challenge and there was real camaraderie. We set off with a paper system and the I3 team created a hospital system on computer tablets which was brilliant. All of the data fed into the national system.
“Very quickly, we realised there was a group of inpatients who had been in hospital since before the vaccine was available. If those individuals had been in the community they would have had their vaccine so we worked really closely to get them vaccinated.
“I will never forget one gentleman who said to me: “This is my passport out of here”. I said: “Your passport?” He said: “It’s my passport because I’ve now had my vaccine”. He needed to go to a care home for rehab but, before we intervened, he couldn’t go there because he hadn’t been vaccinated. It was a real sense of ‘Wow! We’ve really helped!’ Collectively, as a team, we worked really hard to get that set up for people and we managed to vaccinate more than 100 patients who were in a similar position to that gentleman.”
Joann said she feels privileged to be part of the vaccination programme: “For me personally, I’m just very proud to have been part of it all. It has felt as if we are bringing light to the end of what had been a very long and dark tunnel.
“I think you can’t underestimate how worried people had been before the vaccines became available.”
Joann is going to carry on working in the large-scale vaccination centres: “We are determined to see this right through to the end! We would welcome more people to join us - even for half a shift. Now we’re trying to vaccinate everyone 18 and above. The sooner we can get everyone vaccinated, the better.”
Helen Pye, Improvement Lead for UHMBT and a Registered Nurse, was one of the many members of Trust staff who worked in the hospital vaccination hubs and, like Joann, is still doing shifts with the large-scale vaccination centres. Helen hadn’t worked clinically for several years but had kept up her registration as a nurse and felt that being a vaccinator was something she needed and wanted to do.
Helen said: “As a Registered Nurse, I wanted to be part of that solution of getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“It was important for me to feel as if I was contributing. Initially, the ‘ask’ was to make space in our work diaries to support the hospital hubs and I first started at the end of December 2020. It was great because we were constantly updated with the latest COVID-19 information. We were learning all of the time.
“The first person I gave the vaccine to was David Wilkinson, our Director of People and Organisational Development. It was a bit daunting but I had done all of the training – half as a Community First Responder and half through the hospital system. Dave joked: ‘Come on then!’ Vaccinating adults was new to me because my background is with children.”
Helen worked at all three of the hospital hubs and is continuing to do shifts at the large-scale vaccination centres.
Helen added: “It’s good fun as well. People want to be there for their vaccination or to help. For some of our staff, coming in for their vaccination was the first time they had seen people from work for a very long time.
“It makes me fill up just thinking about it – all of those people were so relieved and thankful. There were tears because people were so happy to be there. It was incredibly emotional.
“I’ve worked with people from very different clinical backgrounds in the hubs and vaccination centres. They’ve included nurses, occupational therapists, a vet, a podiatrist, Enhanced Community First Responders from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and the Armed Forces. My husband got his vaccination from a lovely retired vet. We’ve had a few giggles about that!
“What was great was in the vaccination team it didn’t matter what your day job was. One of the thing I’ve really liked about it has been people’s amazing ability to make improvements there and then. There has been a constant improvement process going on and it’s still evolving now.”
Elaine Pennington, a Senior Pharmacy Governance Technician for UHMBT, was asked to step in to work in the hospital vaccination hubs to train colleagues in how to draw up the right amount of the vaccine from a vial and to manage the medications.
Elaine said: “The team spirit has been amazing and so positive. Even the people who were being vaccinated were amazing. It has just been a great atmosphere right from the start.
“It has really felt as if we have been doing something for our country; we have all played our part. At the start, it was a total change of life and work - like something you’d read in a sci-fi novel.
“I have worked with teams and with people I’d never worked with before. It has been nice to put a face to a name! Everyone has got on and there has been no hierarchy.
“I’ve also been working in the mass vaccination centre at the Westmorland Shopping Centre in Kendal. Our Pharmacy Team has been doing all of the management of the drugs, storage of the meds, managing the stock and filling in the registers. We make sure everything is accounted for and oversee the data. We also make sure that the fridge temperatures are correct and do the preparation of the vaccines.”
The Pharmacy Team has also been supporting clinical trials of drugs to treat COVID-19.
Elaine added: “Several times there have been tears of joy. We have been there to talk things through with people who have been unsure of anything. Most people have been so relieved. They said things like they were looking forward to seeing their grandchildren again.
“Seeing the hospital numbers dropping thanks to everyone’s efforts has been a huge relief and I’m proud to have been part of it. Everyone has done a fantastic job. The vaccination programme really has been the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Clive Cwaczko, an Electrical Tradesman for UHMBT and one of the many who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic, said: “I was really pleased to get the vaccine because I’d been in the thick of it since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.
“It has made a huge difference to everyone working on the front line and behind the scenes in the hospital. It has been a great team effort; ten out of ten! It was very rewarding and I was proud to be part of it because it has been helping to keep colleagues and patients safe.”
Jane Brown, a Registered Nurse with UHMBT and the first member of staff to receive the Pfizer vaccine at Furness General Hospital in Barrow in Devember 2020, said: “Having the vaccine has given me hope for the future. I would encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
There are also eight Primary Care Networks (PCNs) - groups of GP practices working together in local areas - delivering COVID-19 vaccinations from nine locations in Morecambe Bay. Teams of healthcare professionals have also been visiting local care homes and housebound patients to ensure that vulnerable residents get the vaccine.
Volunteers have been vital in the roll-out as they have been supporting patients on the day of vaccination, ensuring social distancing is kept at all times, marshalling and even driving patients without transportation to their appointment.
Dee Houghton, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for UHMBT, Operational Lead for the vaccination project for the hospital and community sites, Registered Nurse and Vaccinator, said: “Our staff have been supporting the large-scale vaccination sites and we are grateful to them and the many volunteers for ensuring that so many people have been vaccinated in Morecambe Bay. It continues to be a hugely successful and highly admirable effort.”
Aaron Cummins, Chief Executive of UHMBT, said: “It’s fantastic that more than 128,000 vaccinations have been given out. This has only been possible due to the ingenuity, dedication, selflessness and compassion of our staff, partner organisations and volunteers.
“It has been – and continues to be - a battle of epic proportions and the result is that a great many people now have a high level of protection against the virus. I would encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to book a slot and get vaccinated.
“I would personally like to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of the hospital vaccination hubs and large-scale vaccination centres in our local communities. Your actions have no doubt saved lives and protected people from the more severe ravages of the virus. Thank you for this amazing work!”
To book a vaccination in Lancashire or Cumbria, please go to this link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/