Update on Covid-19 Rollout

Message from Sally-Ann Hart MP for Hastings and Rye (21st January 2021)


I want to provide an update on the current state of play of the Covid19 vaccine rollout across Hastings and Rye.

Over the last few weeks, I have had regular meetings with the Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who are responsible for the local rollout of the vaccine programme; East Sussex County Council; Rother District Council; Hastings Borough Council; our local NHS Trust and regular meetings with Ministers and local MPs.

We are all resolved to ensure that we in East Sussex meet the goal of ensuring that all those over the age 70, the clinically most vulnerable, care home residents and frontline NHS staff and social care workers all receive the offer of a vaccine by the 15 February. At the moment the CCG is confident we are on target to meet this goal.

Moreover, the CCG has set a more ambitious goal of ensuring that every care home resident across the whole of Sussex, including in Hastings and Rother, will receive the offer of a vaccine by the end of Sunday (24th January). Again, the CCG is confident they will meet this target.

Across Hastings we have two main sites for vaccines. The first is the Hospital Hub at The Conquest Hospital, and the second is The Hastings Centre on The Ridge (opposite the Conquest Hospital). Residents from across Hastings and St Leonards are currently being asked to visit one of these sites, and progress is going well across the Borough. In Rother I am pleased that the Etchingham Hub went live yesterday (20 January), taking the first of the residents living in Rye and rural Rother areas. The focus to start with is on the over 80s at this stage.

I know that many residents in these areas have been angry, frustrated and disappointed by the slow start to the vaccine rollout in Rye and some Rother areas. I too have been frustrated. I am also just as anxious as many that the Etchingham site is well beyond the ten mile zone that the Government has set as the furthest distance people should travel to get their vaccines. This is not ideal at all.

At present I am in the process of working with Ministers, having now spoken with the Vaccines Minister and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care this week, to see what can be done to get the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to local GP surgeries or pharmacies, especially in Rye.

The reason for the Hub at Etchingham is that local Primary Care Networks (PCN) have had to pick central locations in order to administer the Pfizer vaccine which requires specialist storage arrangements and as little transportation as possible. That is why residents are currently being asked to visit Etchingham. Once we have access to more supplies of the Oxford vaccine there is a possibility of a more localised rollout, but this is still being worked out.

A concern for many with the Etchingham site is the need for transport. I am acutely aware of this and I am working with local organisers and the CCG to see what can be put in place for those that do need assistance with getting to Etchingham.

I had further meetings this week to try and resolve the lingering problems of the roll out in the Rother area, and address the concerns of local residents. I do however, want to reassure everyone that the CCG is confident that we can still meet our goals and deadlines, and that in the coming weeks we will see a ramping up of the delivery of the Covid19 vaccines.

I want to thank everyone for their patience and perseverance as the largest logistical exercise in the NHS’ history is deployed.

In the meantime, can I please just remind everyone that we are still in a perilous position with the virus and the pandemic still rages around us. Therefore, remember the clear guidance to Stay At Home. Cases maybe beginning to show signs of coming down locally, but the pressure on our local hospital is immense, and whilst we continue to work hard to speed up the delivery of the vaccines and improve access to them, we can all do our bit still by Staying At Home.