Batchwood Hall vaccination team deliver drive-thru service despite sub-zero temperatures

Batchwood Hall vaccination drive thru

The vaccination team at Batchwood Hall have vaccinated over 10,000 people since the clinic opened in December 2020 - Credit: St Albans & Harpenden GP Federation

The vaccination team at Batchwood Hall has overcome the snow by offering a drive-thru service this week.

To date, the campaign at the former Club Batchwood has delivered more than 10,000 vaccinations, protecting some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Eight GP practices across St Albans and surrounding areas have come together to work at scale and have taken over the former nightclub, transforming it into a site offering vaccinations on a mass scale to 2,000 people a day.

Dr Helen McAndrew, joint clinical lead at Batchwood, said: "Early feedback informed us that our patients would prefer to be vaccinated in their local area, by their local practice teams. With this information, we set about implementing a model to ensure we can offer the vaccination service to as many local patients as possible.

"The only thing stopping us now is the limited vaccine supply, which has meant we have only been able to offer two sessions per week. We are used to delivering vaccination campaigns year in year out and by pooling our experience and knowledge, we have developed a safe vaccine offer, for our local community."

Batchwood's - and other vaccination centres' - supply issue was highlighted by St Albans MP Daisy Cooper,  who took her concerns to Prime Minister's Question Time last month. She asked PM Boris Johnson if he would personally intervene to ensure Batchwood Hall and all Primary Care Network-led (PCN) vaccine units greater and more consistent vaccine supply.

Since Daisy's appearance on PMQ on January 13, there has not yet been any increase in delivery to Batchwood Hall or other PCN sites.

Batchwood's drive-thru facility has allowed for St Albans' clinically extremely vulnerable to be vaccinated.

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"Some of this group of patients have not left their homes for almost a year," confirmed joint clinical lead Dr Mike Walton. "Being able to vaccinate them from the safety of their own vehicles has been met with some very emotional responses. The experience has been moving for the whole team involved, just imagine what we could achieve if we had even more vaccine supply!"

Despite the below freezing, blizzard conditions that graced St Albans at the start of this week, the Batchwood team set about welcoming and vaccinating patients in the practice, by virtual consultation and now the nightclub car park.

Speaking at the start of the week, joint clinical lead Dr Bruce Covell said: "The way the whole of general practice has adapted and evolved since the start of the pandemic has been truly remarkable.

"Today's snow covered drive-thru service is further testament to the dedicated practice teams involved, that remain flexible and committed to offering the very best patient care and experience possible."

Batchwood Hall has been offering vaccinations to all patients aged over 70, and are now in a position to start inviting patients aged 65-69.

For the latest news and info, follow St Albans' COVID vaccination programme on Twitter at @stavacs or visit stahfed.co.uk.

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