Wednesday 8 December is exactly one year since South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust became one of the first COVID-19 hospital hubs in the world to begin vaccinating patients, care home workers and staff.
Since that day, the trust has given over 80,000 doses of the COVID vaccine in the form of first, second and booster jabs.
Setting up the hubs was a huge challenge which involved expertise and support from many different teams across the trust including estates, procurement, pharmacy, IT and call centre teams as well as the clinicians, occupational health teams and volunteers delivering, managing and coordinating the jabs.
Beverley Tytler, a nursing sister who was seconded to support the rollout of the vaccine, said: “We relied on staff support from all areas of the trust, and some of those staff were working above and beyond their usual working hours, but they still wanted to play their part in the vaccine rollout, and help towards fighting the virus.
“Some of the staff became regular members of the team, and my role became the one that ensured we had the correct group of vaccinators with a safe skill mix, a group of healthcare assistants, and volunteers, as well as ensuring the correct stock was maintained for the day to day running of the hub.
“We had to ensure all staff working in the hub received and completed the relevant training to be able to vaccinate, or support the flow around the hub and equip them to do their job. This included shadowing shifts for potential vaccinators to observe and learn from experienced vaccinators.
“With the support of the erostering team, we had to produce weekly rotas to ensure that staffing levels were maintained and safe.
“And as time went on we had to set up surge clinics on a weekend.
“It has been an honourable experience to have been a part of the COVID-19 vaccination programme at South Tees, assisting with the setup of the vaccine rollout one year ago, to working with, and alongside fantastic colleagues, right through to the part I am playing now, supporting the coordination of the booster vaccination rollout.
“It has been a tough couple of years for so many, so like many of us, I want to see things get back to some kind of ‘normality’, and I am so very proud to have been given the opportunity to be involved in such great work, and to meet so many selfless people.”
Iain Sharp, part of the trust’s system development team said: “We created an online booking system which allowed staff to book their own appointments and also enabled administrative staff to book appointments for patients and non-trust staff.
“As a result, the vaccination team were able to manage the flow of people attending the vaccination hub and assure a safe and steady flow through the vaccination process.
“The team have also been involved in managing the data gathered regarding vaccinations to produce reports and statistics which are used to report on progress and plan future activity.”
Paula Taggart, head of nursing at the trust and part of the team who have been instrumental in setting up and running the vaccines hubs, added: “I’m really grateful for the contribution the project group has made to help to deliver the first and second doses and booster jab of the COVID vaccine to our clinically extremely vulnerable patients and our staff.
“It has been a real team effort. There’s been such a lot of hard work by a number of different people and teams. Most of them have had to do this on top of their day job. They’ve all played a huge part in the success of our vaccination roll out. They’re amazing.”