Exactly one year on (December 16) since he administered the Covid-19 vaccine to Trafford’s first patient, Dr Maz Sangha is leading a team of clinicians, staff and volunteers providing the Covid booster jab to thousands of eligible patients before New Year’s Eve.
From today, Altrincham Healthcare Alliance Primary Care Network – which includes Altrincham Medical Practice, Park Medical Practice, Shay Lane Medical Centre (Drs Kelman, Cranston, Naylor, Haslam, Connell and Pathak), St Johns Medical Centre and West Timperley Medical Centre – is part of a Trafford-wide push to vaccinate more than 67,000 patients across the borough by 31 December – a target date set by the Government in an announcement on Sunday.
NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the five Trafford Primary Care Networks which cover Trafford’s GP practices, have quickly mobilised to offer thousands of appointments to registered patients: Altrincham Healthcare Alliance has invited 13,000 patients for their booster at Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Centre.
Sites across of Trafford are ramping up capacity to ensure all eligible people are able to book and receive a Covid-19 booster vaccine to aid protection from the Omicron variant.
Dr Sangha, Clinical Director at Altrincham Healthcare Alliance and GP Partner at St Johns Medical Centre, described his team as “selfless heroes committed to ensuring patients are protected” and said that involvement in Covid vaccination roll-out has been the highlight of his GP career.
He added: “It’s been a privilege and humbling to be involved from ‘day one’. This incredible effort would be impossible without such a fantastic team. The support and kindness of patients continues to be overwhelming. Many of those having their first vaccine last year said it was ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ and shared heart-breaking stories of isolation or losing loved ones in the pandemic.
“And now, we’re facing a bigger challenge of a potentially more infectious variant and it’s vital people are protected. We have organised clinics initially with almost 8,000 appointments for eligible patients and will monitor the demand and extend this as needed. We would also ask that everyone who has booked attends their appointment.”
With the vaccine now extended to those aged 18+ who are more than three months on from their second vaccination and the Government’s drive to vaccinate all eligible adults in the next two weeks, the NHS has risen to the occasion. The unprecedented demand on GPs combining the accelerated booster roll-out, flu vaccines, plus caring for their patients during the traditionally demanding wintertime, “can be exhausting” admits Dr Sangha, adding “but this is a vocation and my priority is the patients.”
Dr Mark Jarvis, Medical Director at NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), urged patients to have their vaccine booster – or first or second jab – as soon as possible.
He said: “We’re gearing up to vaccinate around 4,000 patients a day with a booster to meet the Government’s end-of-year target and would urge those who are eligible to come forward to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“If you have a mobile phone and are registered with a Trafford GP practice, you should receive a text message with a booking link so you can organise a slot at a set time and avoid long waits and queuing.
“Our clinicians and staff will spend the coming weeks delivering thousands of vaccinations alongside caring for patients’ other needs, and the NHS has been asked to prioritise those with urgent health concerns attending their GP practice. This may have an impact on routine appointment availability but please rest assured that your safety and wellbeing remain our priority.”
Last December Holocaust survivor, Danny Herman, became the first person in Trafford to receive his vaccination and he described the difference a year makes: “This year our family celebrated Hanukkah with 27 family and friends round the table: last year we met via Zoom! I’m incredibly grateful for all the hard work of the NHS. We’re so lucky to have such an incredible team who work tirelessly to keep us all safe.”
HOW TO BOOK YOUR VACCINE IN TRAFFORD
- If you have a mobile phone and are registered with a Trafford GP practice, you should receive a text message with a booking link to avoid long queues. Please then attend your appointment.
- Thanks to close liaison with Greater Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC), pharmacy sites in the borough are also increasing their capacity for both booked appointments and walk-in clinics
- Registered patients who have received a booking link are advised to take advantage and book ahead. However, walk-in sites – where booking is not necessary – are available. See NHS Trafford CCG’s website