Covid Vaccine Roll out for the Forest of Dean Update

The Covid Vaccination Centre in Cinderford continues to be a busy place! Having been operational for 4.5 weeks, over 5000 of the Dean’s residents have been vaccinated. All 11 CQC Registered Care Homes and staff have been vaccinated and progress to vaccinate housebound patients is good with 200 vaccinated to date. Each of the 11 Surgeries under the FOD Primary Care Network (PCN) are responsible for vaccinating their own housebound patients, plans are in place with each Surgery to do this. Locally, most of the patients who are over 80 have been vaccinated and a majority of over 75s have already received their vaccine with the remainder planned to be done by 4 February. Vaccine supplies have now been confirmed for the next week so those in the over 70s and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable cohorts are being invited. We are on track to vaccinate all patients in the first 4 groups before the Government deadline of 15 February. All cohorts invited are in line with NHS England guidance.

In relation to vaccine supply, the Forest of Dean is in the same position as the rest of the Country. The supply is not consistent; there isn’t always enough supply to run clinics on weekdays so clinics are run Monday – Sunday in response to the delivery schedule. Once delivery is confirmed, notice goes to Surgeries with clinic dates, number of clinics and which cohort to start booking in. Behind the scenes, staff at all 11 Surgeries will then start messaging and phoning their patients, sometimes there is an allocation of appointments per Surgery and the lead Nurses running the Centre start to arrange their staffing requirements. For each half day (a session), when running 4 clinics to vaccinate 200 people it takes 19 members of staff. When vaccinating 350 people, 7 clinics run and it takes 28 members of staff per session. Each session has its problems to sort and a lead Nurse and a GP are always on site. There is no control over which vaccine is delivered; both Pfizer and Astra Zeneca (Oxford) vaccines are in use and patients do not have a choice which they receive, it depends which vaccine is being used at the clinic they attend.

Information is always updated on the Forest of Dean PCN website and a Forest GP Surgeries Facebook page has recently been launched. Patients are encouraged to take a look online or on their own Surgery website for the latest local information.

A new booking system for the Forest of Dean is being introduced; patients with a mobile phone number on their patient record noted as their ‘preferred contact number’ will receive a text message containing a link to book online directly into the clinic at the local Centre in Cinderford. The text message will have the patient’s NHS Number, name and date of birth. By following the link included in the message patients can choose a convenient time from the options offered for their vaccination. (Patients will not be asked for any other information such as bank account details, as previously reported when a recent scam was active. The Covid vaccination is free of charge). There is a video showing this on the Forest GP Surgeries Facebook page and on if patients have any concerns about using the link.

For those patients who have their landline as their preferred method of contact, they will receive a telephone call from their own Surgery to book them an appointment. If patients want to change their preferred method of contact (for example from landline to mobile) this can be done via Surgery websites, patients are asked when doing this to make sure they double check the numbers they send to their Surgery. Patients are asked not to telephone their Surgery with this.

NHS England is sending out letters to those eligible offering them opportunity to book at one of the larger centres for their vaccine; patients should follow the instructions in the letter if they wish to book through this route and not to telephone their Surgery. This is another way to get a vaccine and is not connected to the Forest’s Vaccination Centre in Cinderford.

Currently, appointments for 1st vaccination only are being made for the Cinderford Centre and patients will be contacted regarding the 2nd vaccination. Patients are asked not to contact their Surgery about their vaccination unless they have been specifically instructed to do so. At the moment, there isn’t a direct telephone number for the Covid Vaccination Centre at Cinderford so patients wishing to cancel their appointment should contact their registered Surgery. The Vaccination Centre should not be confused with Forest Hub which is an online information service for the Forest of Dean and whilst it gives information about the local Covid Vaccination Centre it is a separate organisation. Patients are asked to refrain from ringing Forest Hub for information.

The Forest PCN covers all 11 Surgeries in the Forest of Dean, Dockham Road Surgery and Forest Healthcare (now based in the same new premises on Valley Road, Cinderford), Yorkley Health Centre (also covering Bream Surgery), Newnham Surgery (also covering Westbury Surgery), Blakeney Surgery, Lydney Health Centre, Severnbank Surgery, Drybrook Surgery, Coleford Health Centre, Brunston (also covering Lydbrook) and Mitcheldean Surgery. For Forest of Dean residents not registered at one of the above Surgeries they need to contact their own Surgery/look at Surgery website for vaccination details.

When attending for a vaccination appointment, please remember to:
• Arrive on time (not too early)
• Park at the Cinderford Rugby Club whenever possible and walk to the clinic
• Follow social distancing when queuing and wear a face mask
• Cancel all appointments (either at Surgery or for Covid-19 vaccine at the Vaccination Centre in Cinderford) if you or those attending have any symptoms of Coronavirus

The Forest’s GP Surgeries will continue to operate as they are now, open to patients and continuing to offer online, telephone, video and face to face appointments. Telephone lines can be busy but patients are asked to keep trying or contact their Surgery online. Staff are doing their very best to manage the workload.

Once again, thank you to all the Forest of Dean patients for their support during this extraordinary challenge; please keep an eye on your Surgery website, Facebook page or for changing details and news updates in The Forester. For all contact with others please remember clean hands, wear your face covering or mask and make space.