** HUW MERRIMAN MP NEWSLETTER
This newsletter focusses on the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations in East Sussex.
I share residents’ concerns that in some areas vaccination centres have been slower to get up and running and for some may involve considerable travel which is not ideal for our most elderly and vulnerable residents. When I hold a concern, I tend to make sure my own Government are in a position to know about it.
Today, I successfully applied to the Speaker of the House of Commons to ask an Urgent Question which was ‘to ask the Secretary of State for Health to give a statement on the COVID19 Vaccination Rollout’. This required Matt Hancock to come before the chamber with an update. In turn, I am given the opportunity to speak and respond. Thereafter, 55 other colleagues got to ask about the provision in their own UK constituencies.
This link will take you to Matt Hancock’s response to my urgent question: [link removed]
This link will take you to the section where I ask Mr Hancock about the rollout in rural areas and his response: [link removed]
I hope you will have a look. You will hear me explain to the chamber about the patchy rollout for those in Rural Rother, Battle and Heathfield. I then give ideas to improve rural delivery. You will also hear me thanking the incredible people who have been delivering locally. In his response, Matt Hancock delivers an update on a centre in Ticehurst. Whilst it may appear as if the Speaker is pulling me up, he is actually making a point to Matt Hancock that it should be for the Government to deliver a statement rather than one of its own MPs having to use a procedural motion to require the Government to come to the chamber. The Speaker makes his intentions even clearer when Matt responds!
Bringing this motion to the chamber is not usual given I sit on the same benches but I am determined that all of my constituents should have their vaccinations as quickly as possible hence I am pushing for more localised solutions in the Heathfield, Battle and rural Rother areas. It’s great news that the Etchingham centre opened this week for Rother and that Heathfield residents are being vaccinated. It’s also phenomenal that Sidley have been delivering for so many around Bexhill. However, patients of the Punnetts Town surgery are yet to start their vaccinations. I am working closely with our local NHS about further locations in the area, and how the vaccination can be offered from GP practices to make it as easy as possible for people to receive this vaccination nearer to home.
As you will see with my Urgent Question, I asked for contracts for GPs to be rewritten to guarantee supplies of Astra Zeneca, enabling GPs to sign contracts and vaccinate in the smaller surgeries which cannot manage the Pfizer vaccination logistics. Many of our local GPs tell me they would vaccinate with that change.
I asked that we plan for the second vaccination stage, ensuring that the elderly and most vulnerable are vaccinated locally with the next priority groups being asked to use hubs for their first dose if they are better able to travel longer distances.
Finally, I asked for the Government to give the Sussex vaccination team supply levels beyond the current week. I thanked everyone who has been involved in the delivery in East Sussex. It’s been an amazing effort but I wanted to ensure that the Secretary of State hears our local concerns and takes our ideas on board.
By way of update, as of today this is the official NHS situation on vaccination centres serving patients in my constituency:
Bexhill and surrounds:
The nearest site for Bexhill residents, and those nearby (including Ninfield), is at Sidley Medical Practice.
This site has been vaccinating patients registered with the following GP practices since 29 December:
Collington Surgery, Little Common Surgery, Pebham Surgery and Sidley Medical Practice
Pevensey and surrounds:
Hampden Park Health Centre is for patients registered at:
Arlington Road Surgery, Grove Road Surgery, Park Practice, Seaside Medical Centre, and The Lighthouse Medical Practice
Princes Park Health Centre, for patients at:
Harbour Medical Practice, Sovereign Practice, Stone Cross Surgery in Pevensey, and Downlands Medical Centre and Manor Park Surgery, both in Polegate
Rural Rother (including Battle)
For numerous reasons, it has not been possible to achieve a Primary Care Network solution in these parts therefore work has taken place with the Sussex Community NHS Foundation and the local GP surgeries to agree a system to vaccinate their patients.
As a solution, rural Rother GP practices will be served by a vaccination hub at Etchingham village hall which began its first vaccinations on 20 January.
The GP led vaccination service at Etchingham Village Hall is a partnership between Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and the following GP practices:
Fairfield Surgery, Ferry Road Health Centre, Martins Oak Surgery, Northiam and Broad Oak Surgery, Oldwood Surgery, Rye Medical Centre, and Sedlescombe and Westfield Surgeries.
Patients from those GP practices who are over the age of 80 will be the first to receive the vaccination from this service over the course of this week.
Heathfield and its surrounds
This week COVID-19 vaccinations will be carried out for patients over the age of 80 registered with the Heathfield Surgery.
They will be taking place at the GP-led vaccination centre at The Meads Surgery and at some of GP practice sites in the Greater Wealden Primary Care Network.
It is expected that all of Heathfield Surgery’s patients aged over 80 will be vaccinated by the end of this week.
The vaccination team from the Meads have already covered all care homes in the Heathfield area registered with the Heathfield practice.
I have had a number of constituents contact me from Heathfield and its surrounding area asking why they need to travel to Uckfield or Newick. The reason is because the Primary Care Network covering this part of Wealden has identified Uckfield as the local centre to deliver the Pfizer vaccine. I am aware that Heathfield residents, and those from its surrounds, would like to be vaccinated nearer to home. I fully understand this sentiment and I share the aim for a further solution to be found as well. I hope to have further conversations with the NHS Foundation and the surgery to enable this to occur.
Punnetts Town, Rushlake Green & Dallington
A number of my constituents are registered with GP surgeries which are part of the Hailsham and District Primary Care Network (PCN). The latest information for these patients is as follows:
GPs from the three surgeries which serve Hailsham and its surrounds – Bridgeside Surgery, Hailsham Medical Group and The Quintins Medical Centre – are working in partnership with Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust to provide the vaccination to their patients, starting with those over the age of 80.
Vaccinations will be provided from three surgery sites in Hailsham on 23 January.
Priority will be given to the over 80 year olds.
Care homes registered with these GP surgeries will be vaccinated over this weekend.
East Sussex Needs You!
If you are a Sussex resident, the NHS is on the hunt for new vaccinators and volunteers to help protect millions of people from COVID-19.
Anyone wanting to volunteer to join COVID Vaccine Team can do so via this link ([link removed]) .
Coronavirus Cases in Our Area
This tracker ([link removed]) on the government website provides information on covid-19 cases. The BBC also provides up to date information on a weekly basis which you can access here ([link removed]) .
For the latest shielding and distancing guidance visit here ([link removed]) .
During the Coronavirus Crisis I will not be holding face to face surgeries but will be holding advice surgeries for urgent cases by phone.
To make an appointment for a telephone surgery please email: [email protected]
) or call 01424 736861.
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