Thank You Vaccine Volunteers

Around 50 fantastic volunteers have been helping with the car parking and directing patients at the doctors surgeries for the Covid-19 vaccine clinics since December in Henley

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak was the instigator behind providing the volunteers after he was talking to Dr Michelle Brenan from the Hart Surgery and Dr Lisa Silver from the Nettlebed surgery back in December about another project.  He said, “When we were talking, they said that they had got the vaccines coming in and I said if there is anything you need my help with let me know as I could get hold of loads of volunteers to use in any way you want.  That’s when they came back and said we really need some volunteers to manage the car parking.”

Stefan put out an email to members of the Henley Society, the Rotary Clubs, Henley Residents Group and got lots of responses including members of a Bridge Club who normally meet at Henley Golf Club who had been forwarded the email.  The clinics have continued to be brilliantly manned by volunteers throughout January and February.  Stefan explains, “I get an email from Louise West at the Bell Surgery to say when the next vaccine clinics are taking place and I send out another email asking volunteers to doing a 1.5 hour stint and within half an hour I’ve got emails piling in and all the times are allocated.  We’ve got a fantastic group of volunteers, but some absolute stalwarts are David Murray and David Skinner from Henley Lions and Neil Gunnell.”

David Murray said, “I decided to volunteer as I wanted to do what I could to help with the vaccination program. I felt that working outdoors was very low risk and was a way that I could do my part to help improve the situation for all of us here in Henley and the surrounding villages. The sooner we get everyone vaccinated the sooner we can all return to a safe normality. All of the patients have been very enthusiastic, very positive and, most certainly, very grateful, for having received their immunisation. Additionally, representing Henley Lions Club, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a really super group of people all of whom are so positive about the vaccination program.”

John Backley and Liz Hayden from South Oxfordshire District Council have organised for spaces in the King’s Road car park to be sectioned off for the vaccine clinic days for the doctors surgeries’ staff to park there and leave the York Road car park free for patients.  Townlands Memorial Hospital Manager, Stephanie Greenwood has also allocated some spaces in the hospital car park for patient car parking.

Many patients have posted on social media about how there experience of going for the vaccine has been well organised and have thanked the volunteers.  Stefan comments, “The reaction from patients has been absolutely supportive, positive and appreciate what we’re doing.  It just proves again what a wonderful community we have in Henley.  People will step up to the plate and do it.”

Sarah Moberly, Practice Manager at the Hart Surgery said, “We feel incredibly fortunate to have been supported by so many volunteers helping us deliver the Covid Vaccination Program and inspired and uplifted by the kindness of the public-spirited people in Henley who have given up their time to help meet and greet, manage the waiting room and help with car parking, often at fairly anti-social hours. We really could not have done this without them and I cannot thank them enough.  I must also mention how incredible our staff have been during this time, not only the doctors and nurses giving the vaccinations but all the support staff too. As this vaccination program is over and above our everyday, day-to-day GP which continues apace, they have stepped up to the plate, working longer hours, taking many more phone calls and dealing with extra administration. I think it is fair to say they we are all feeling the pressure at the moment but will continue to do all we can to vaccinate the people of Henley as fast as we are given the vaccine to do it.   The Hart Surgery who are working collaboratively with other local surgeries has given well over 3000 vaccinations to its own patients so far and over 30% of our patients have now had at least their first one. We have almost finished vaccinating or inviting Group 6 (those with underlying health conditions), after which we will mop up those in Group 5 who have not booked online at a vaccination centre and then move on to Group 7. We update our website every couple of days giving an up-to-date picture of where we are at and would be grateful if patients could check to  see if any of their Covid vaccine related questions are answered on that before calling us.”

Louise West, Practice Manager at the Bell Surgery added, “We would like to give a very special thank you to all the volunteers who have given their time to support both our clinical and admin teams at The Bell Surgery.  We have been blessed to have qualified vaccinators working as volunteers alongside our GPs and nurses.  We would also like to give a huge thank you to the car park marshals who have been fantastic.  Townlands Hospital and SODC have helped the clinics run smoothly by offering car parking capacity.

We would like to highlight that the four surgeries in the PCN have worked really well together: Bell, Hart, Sonning Common and Nettlebed.  We have been working really collaboratively.”