Shropshire Star

Newport vaccinations rolling out at specialised town site

The launch of Newport's own vaccination centre is a key development in the effort to control coronavirus but vigilance and patience are still vital, said one of the area's leading doctors.

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Phil Griffiths, the Newport Central Primary Care Network’s lead clinical pharmacist, prepares vaccinations

People in the highest-priority groups for Covid-19 vaccine have been receiving their injections in Newport since Thursday, but people still need to wait to be contacted about their own vaccinations and not turn up without a booking.

Audley Court, owned by veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, is the hub of the Newport Central Primary Care Network's (PCN) vaccination effort, after weeks of preparation involving health bosses and the borough council to find the most suitable place.

Dr Stefan Waldendorf is the clinical director of the PCN, a group of local GP practices, and has been a partner at Linden Hall Surgery for more than 17 years. Together with Combat Stress and the staff at Audley Court, he has worked to get the site ready to vaccinate thousands of the area's residents.

Audley Court is normally home to Combat Stress

Throughout the pandemic, Combat Stress has been delivering treatment and support from Audley Court to veterans in Central England over the phone and online. Now the centre has been chosen to host the PCN's hub for vaccinations.

Combat Stress chief executive Sue Freeth said: “At the start of the year we were approached to host Newport’s vaccination centre. After all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes by Combat Stress’ staff, the NHS and the Newport Central Primary Care Network, we hope to welcome patients to Audley Court to receive their Covid-19 vaccination.

“Our own staff who cannot work from home will continue to work from a separate part of the building, delivering specialist mental health treatment and support to former servicemen and women in Central England over the phone and online. We hope to welcome veterans back to Audley Court later this year, depending on government restrictions.”

The Newport Central PCN was set up last summer and its remit includes 57,000 patients, far more than just those in the Newport area; covering the town's Linden Hall and Wellington Road surgeries as well as Donnington Medical Practice and Shawbirch Medical Centre on the northeast and northwest edges of Telford respectively.

Gillian Jefferies, 75, from Muxton, getting her shot from Janet Holmes

Dr Waldendorf said that over-80s in the community who have not yet received their vaccinations are being invited to Audley Court for their vaccination. He said that he sympathises with some Newport residents who have been worried at a lack of publicly available information until now about where and how they could get vaccinated, but that it has been difficult to confirm the site until contracts were signed and the vaccine delivery was confirmed.

"We understand that people have been frustrated by not knowing what's going on – we have been working hard behind the scenes to made it happen.

"We are asking all patients to be patient, and not to contact their GP for information, they will be contacted to make their appointment at the right time. We understand that people are keen to have the vaccination, but calling their GP can’t give them an appointment any sooner and stops us from treating the patients that need us, including those who are eligible for the vaccination at this time."

Over-80s will be among the first to be contacted about their vaccines, and the GP stressed that the NHS will contact people directly when they are in line for the vaccination.