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28th Jun, 2022

'Incredible' volunteers praised on their last day at Rugby's vaccination centre

Andy Morris 1st Apr, 2022 Updated: 1st Apr, 2022

‘INCREDIBLE’ volunteers at Rugby’s Covid vaccination centre have said an emotional goodbye after delivering their last jab.

Around 200 volunteers and clinicians at Locke House have parted ways, handing over the running of the site to NHS staff.

Together, they have helped to deliver 165,000 vaccinations – 950 a day on average – since the Woodside Park site opened in December 2020, more than any other vaccination centre in the Coventry and Warwickshire region.

At a farewell party for staff and volunteers on their last day yesterday (Thursday March 31), Centre Manager Gita Natarajan said it was an emotional day.

She told The Observer: “We’ve come to the end of a journey. I think we made an enormous difference to so many lives, and that is beyond comprehension. We’ve saved lives.

“It is an incredible community-led initiative and a fantastic seamless partnership between clinicians and volunteers for the first ever time. I think that’s what makes it magical.

“The resilience and commitment of all while working through the bitterly cold days, the efficiency of delivery, the slick operation, the friendly attitude, and the open and informative culture that was fostered in the centre has won the trust and admiration of the community.

“The diverse community of volunteers helped put the patients at ease, which in turn helped address issues around vaccine inequality.”

Gita, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Rugby in this year’s New Year’s Honours list, said she was going to take a well-earned break – having not had a single day off since the centre opened.

“We’ve served here for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for two years,” she said. “It’s emotionally draining. We’re all at a loss now as to what’s going to happen next and what we’re going to do with ourselves.

“It’s been an honour to be able to work on a once-in-a-lifetime project like this. The community spirit that kept it so buoyant was a privilege to be a part of.”

Rugby Health, the GP-led organisation which ran Locke House, has handed the centre over to Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust to deliver the next phase of vaccinations so that doctors can focus on their GP services.

A spokesperson for Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust (CWPT) will deliver the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme from Locke House. CWPT will also be vaccinating care home residents in Rugby and those people who are housebound. CWPT has been working with Rugby Health to ensure a smooth handover of responsibility.”

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