A special drop-in COVID vaccination clinic was set up for homeless people in the Wycombe area this week, run by local GPs in collaboration with Wycombe Homeless Connection.
The clinic ran on Wednesday, 10 March, at the Kings Church in Desborough Road, with the vaccination team giving jabs to 20 patients who may otherwise have missed their chance for a vaccine.
The patients, including people who have been rough sleeping and staying in emergency shelters, were invited to the clinic by Wycombe Homeless Connection. Once there, patients were checked in and given the chance to ask any questions they might have about the vaccine.
The vaccination team on site was led by GP Dr Amanda Bartlett, of Priory Surgery, and volunteer, nurse Averil Bird. Dr Bartlett is also the Clinical Lead for the Cygnet Primary Care Network (PCN), which also includes Desborough, Kingswood and Tower House Surgeries, and has been carrying out vaccinations at the Adams Park COVID vaccination centre.
The Cygnet PCN has also been working collaboratively with Wycombe Homeless Connection over the last six months as part of a project to improve health outcomes for the local population, including homeless people. For several years, Tower House Surgery has also been working with the charity to support homeless people in accessing GP services. The PCN plans to expand that project across all its surgeries by the summer.
Dr Bartlett said: “We were all very eager to arrange this clinic to help address some of the health inequalities homeless people face. They are extremely vulnerable as a group of patients, so it’s really important for them to be vaccinated as soon as possible. But it can also be hard for them to get to a vaccination centre like the one we are running at Adams Park, so we wanted to reach out to invite them into this clinic. There would be a really strong chance that they wouldn’t get their vaccine otherwise.
“This has also been a great opportunity to work collaboratively with Wycombe Homeless Connection and with the fantastic support of King’s Church. The whole team has been really excited to put this clinic on.”
Patients who received their first vaccine this week will be invited to get their second jab at a follow-up clinic to be arranged within the next 12 weeks.
James Boultbee, CEO of Wycombe Homeless Connection said: “We were extremely concerned for the people we support at the beginning of the pandemic, many of whom face significant health inequalities and may be clinically vulnerable. Alongside the danger of the virus, two shocking facts are that the average age of death for homeless people in the UK is around their mid-40s, and the deaths of people who are homeless rose 37% in the last year alone.
“So, from the start of the pandemic, we worked with Buckinghamshire Council and a number of local agencies and together we were able to make sure no one had to sleep rough in Wycombe. This kept people safe both from COVID and the numerous other dangers of life on the streets.
“To be able to make sure our clients are included in the vaccination programme will also be life-saving. I’m hugely proud of the hard work of our team, Cygnet PCN and the way everyone has pulled together to make this happen. I’d also like to thank the team at King’s Church High Wycombe who offered their building to host a special clinic for clients who wanted to take up the offer of the vaccine.”
Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We would like to thank everyone involved for working to make this clinic a success. It is a great example of the way GPs in Bucks are working to address health inequalities and ensure the most vulnerable people in our communities receive their COVID vaccination.”