Daisy Cooper MP, the MP for St Albans, has joined Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, in thanking and congratulating ‘Club Batchwood’ for being one of the best-performing vaccination centres in Britain.
The centre was set up by a group of eight St Albans GP surgeries at the Batchwood Hall nightclub venue, one of the ‘first wave’ of inoculation hubs in the country and among the first to vaccinate all over-80s.
The speed of the vaccine roll-out and the “fantastic efforts” of the Batchwood centre were highlighted in a letter to Daisy Cooper from Matt Hancock.
“This is down to the tireless efforts of all those involved, especially those on the ground in our communities, from nurses, to GPs, to pharmacies, to volunteers, and so many more,” wrote the secretary of state.
“It’s incredible to see this community spirit, as people pull together to lead us collectively out of the pandemic.”
Among the volunteers at Batchwood Hall were up to a dozen local Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners, who answered a last-minute call for help to clean and prepare the centre and look after patients turning up for their jabs.
When long queues formed early on due to a network failure, Daisy Cooper MP leapt into action to press BT to install a new wi-fi system, while Batchwood campaigner Sinead Howland was able to source 14 laptops from generous donors so centre staff could enter patient data. A further 12 computers were later offered to families through the Sopwell Community Trust to help with home-schooling.
And when it emerged that Batchwood was only receiving enough vaccine to open two days a week, Daisy Cooper requested that the prime minister intervene personally to ensure GPs were receiving a larger and more consistent supply of vaccine.
Daisy Cooper MP said:
“Our local GPs totally deserve this national recognition for their brilliant work in getting the Batchwood centre up and running. I saw for myself the amazing work of the GPs, primary care staff and many community volunteers in setting up this new service at incredible speed. They have all done us proud.
“I am also continuing to bang the drum about needing more vaccine supply so Batchwood can open for more than two days a week.”
Chris White, Lib Dem leader of St Albans district council, said:
“I’m pleased the district council was able to give its support – not just in providing the building but also with the speedy work in setting up the centre.
“I’m also proud of the tremendous effort Liberal Democrat councillors and activists have put in at Batchwood, and at other centres in Harpenden and throughout the district.”
Speaking on behalf of the Batchwood GPs team, joint clinical lead Dr Helen McAndrew said:
“We’re pleased to see the secretary of state recognising the role of primary care in delivering this critical public health service to our community.
“Our success is down to the hard work, collaboration and can-do attitude of all eight general practices, the local district council, community volunteers and other organisations, including businesses who have donated much-needed supplies in order to keep our momentum going.
“For us this is not just our job and our patients – it’s about our community and our home, our family and our friends.”
Photo: (l to r) Lib Dem campaigner Sinead Howland, joint clinical lead Dr Mike Walton and Daisy Cooper MP with donated laptops at Club Batchwood